Why Bother to Live An Unhappy Life?

Another rough day. I’m pretty sick and tired of these. Trying to turn my day, week, month, year, etc around by keeping it simple, focusing on taking care of myself and my kids, taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions and enjoying the people and wonderful things I have right now. I struggle with putting this into practice every day but every day I get up and I try again, hopefully making better or at least different choices.

This life is too short to get hung up and stuck in all the things we have no control over. This life is too short to hold ourselves back from becoming the people we dreamed of as kids. This life is too short to not be happy. This life is just too short and there’s no guarantees on anything. All we have is right now and right here, so why waste it worrying?

Life is for the living. I don’t want to continually be stalled in “survival mode.” I don’t want to just be getting by, moving through life half-alive. It’s not an easy thing to make changes, it’s not an easy thing to really live the beliefs you believe. It’s not easy to do anything you haven’t done before.

But why bother to live an unhappy life? However you live your life, whatever you do, say, think, behave, believe…it is always your choice and you can change your choices whenever you’d like. Why choose to be unhappy?

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The Best I Can

I’ve been putting off writing a blog entry. Actually, I’ve been putting off a lot of things. Not because I don’t want or need to do them. Or because I’m actively avoiding them. I just have entirely too much to do. I seem to always have too much to do.

I’m overwhelmed.

I like to think of myself as strong, independent, a “super” person, if you will. I like to believe that I can do everything. By myself. Perfectly. On time (early if possible).

I like to think that I alone can be the person to do everything. For everyone. All the time.

It’s a lie.

Most days I have no idea how I even managed to drag myself out of bed, let alone put one foot in front of the other to make it out the door.

Most days I do. I somehow manage to get the kids off to school and daycare, dressed and fed. I manage to make it to my classes, taking notes and tests, writing papers and getting good grades. Somehow I manage to get children to activities, dinner on the table, my house fairly clean and still standing.

Most days, after everyone is in bed, sleeping and looking ever so peaceful, I sit awake worrying. My mind races running over all the things I still need to do. Picking apart my day and criticizing how I, “should have gotten more done,” or, “could have done that better.”

I struggle to fall asleep against the thoughts that I’m not good enough. That I’m not doing enough. That I should be doing better. That I’m failing.

I don’t honestly believe that there is a level where would feel like I was doing enough. My perception of “good enough” knows no ceiling. I see those around me beating themselves up for not being good enough, for not being where they’d like to be.

I see them continue to work towards their goals, despite significant struggles and barriers. I see them become frustrated with their perceived lack of progress, when I see that they are moving forward, though likely not at the pace they had hoped.

I see those around me doing the best they can. I see them dealing with sick children, failing relationships, insufficient incomes, lack of transportation, health issues… I see them at class. I see them in the halls of our children’s school and in the waiting rooms of dance lessons, doctor’s offices and counseling centers.

I see them continuing to try.

They could give up. They could let themselves be swallowed by the brokenness of our society and the systems within it. But every day they get up and they continue to try.

They are doing the best they can. And even if they don’t believe it themselves, I see they are good enough. I see they aren’t failing. I see that, however tiny the steps, they are moving forward.

I’m not failing by anyone’s standards but my own. I’m doing the best I can.

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The Asteroids Club

As I believe I mentioned, I’ve been reading, “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt for a philosophy class I’m currently taking. Now, we were only assigned the first 6 chapters, but I will be completing the book because I find the subject matter fascinating and, perhaps, even enlightening.

Recently, Haidt spoke at a TED Talks about how common threats can make common ground. He starts by briefly discussing morality and how, “…one of the most important principles of morality is that morality binds and blinds. It binds us into teams that circle around sacred values but thereby makes us go blind to objective reality.” (On a side note, you can learn about your own morality, ethics, and/or values at YourMorals.org).

So if everybody thinks they’re right, how can we possibly make any progress? Haidt suggests that, “…we don’t start by looking for common ground. Common ground is often very hard to find. No, we start by looking for common threats because common threats make common ground.” This idea, of finding common threats, led to the creation of The Asteroids Club.

The Asteroids Club is, “an opportunity for members of a community to explain what matters to them most deeply (their asteroid) and for others to try to understand why it’s so important. The magic is that folks with different moral and political beliefs each get to share what matters to them. The key is that you’ve got to listen, with empathy, to the “other side” in order to have the right to explain your side and be heard.”

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the minds worst disease.
– Sent ts’an, c. 700 C. E.

I think it’s a really wonderful idea. It’s not a debate but a mutual, civil discussion. As Haidt states, “this is possible. We can do it. Let us therefore go to battle stations, not to fight each other, but to begin deflecting these incoming asteroids.”

Everybody Thinks They’re Right

We watched this video in my philosophy class today and I very much enjoyed it. It’s a recording of Johnathan Haidt’s TED Talks from TED 2008.There’s a lot of good points here, a lot of good ideas. Haidt’s closing really grabbed me and I feel it’s important not only for me and the field I am in, but for all people:

“…everybody thinks they are right. A lot of the problems we have to solve are problems that require us to change other people. And if you want to change other people, a much better way to do it is to first understand who we are — understand our moral psychology, understand that we all think we’re right — and then step out, even if it’s just for a moment, step out… just try to see it as a struggle playing out, in which everybody does think they’re right, and everybody, at least, has some reasons — even if you disagree with them — everybody has some reasons for what they’re doing. Step out. And if you do that, that’s the essential move to cultivate moral humility, to get yourself out of this self-righteousness, which is the normal human condition.”

Clearance Toy Shopping

I truly hate paying full price for items at the store. It’s not just because I’m on a limited, very tight budget (though that’s certainly part of it). It’s because I discovered the magic of clearance shopping and I know how cheaply I could be paying.

By all means, I’m not going to get in-depth with clearance “hunting” here (and, yes, “hunting” is quite applicable here. Clearance shopping is definitely a sport!). This video by TheKrazyCouponLady gives a really nice overview of Target clearance shopping and how to read their clearance labels. In my opinion, Target seems to have the best clearance sales for toys, though you can sometimes find good clearance at Wal-Mart.

For this entry I will be focusing on clearance shopping for toys (though I may cover other clearance shopping, such as kid and adult clothing, etc. if there is any interest).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge planner. I thrive on planning ahead and it’s one reason why clearance shopping really works for me.

I don’t know about other parents but it seems like my daughters always get invited to birthday parties a day or two before they take place (or it might just be that the invite sits in their backpack for a week before I eventually see it…) We go to A LOT of children’s birthday parties a year and, let’s be honest, buying presents for even a few friends a year can really add up.

After I discovered the thrill of clearance shopping (getting a good deal is actually VERY thrilling!) I created a “Party Present Stash.” When I find a really good deal on toys, I’ll buy several (sometimes setting a few aside for my daughter’s own “Present Stash,” which I will get to a moment). Since I have two daughters, the majority of their friends are girls and so I purchase mostly toys that they like, since it’s quite likely their friends will as well. I’ll also pick up a few toys that I know are popular with their boy friends (not to be confused with boyfriends! Note the space in between the two words! 😛)

When we get a birthday invite I can open up my “Party Present Stash” and have a nice selection of (cheap!) presents to choose from. It also works out well with my schedule, since I don’t have to find time to go to a store and shop. I store these items in the top of my closet, in several bags so you can’t see what they are.

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Squinkies seem to be a popular toy with most girls

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And at these prices, why not??

I also pick up toys on clearance that I know my daughters like but that I really don’t want to pay full price for. Since I like to plan, I’ll stock up my “Present Stash” for them with items for their birthdays, the holidays and even to be used as rewards. It does mean that you need to plan ahead but it’s worth it! I was mostly finished with my Christmas/Holiday shopping before Halloween and completely finished by Thanksgiving!

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Toys such as these make good little presents or rewards. The Monster High designer tape (or whatever it is) could be used in birthday party goodie bags.

 As I’m sure you can guess, I can save A LOT of money, buying toys this way. I do still occasionally purchase toys at full price but I mostly reserve that for “must-have” items (such as any new Monster High characters, which if you know anything about MH, can be quite difficult to find so you buy them when you see them.) Target currently has many toys on 30-70% clearance. Today I picked up all of the toys shown above for $40.98! All of the toys I purchased were 70% off.

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In case you are interested, here’s the breakdown:

Squinkies Carousel Dispenser ——-$5.98 (original price $19.99)
Monster High Designer Tape ——– 2 x $0.88 (original price $2.99 EACH)
Squinkies Mansion Playset ———– $14.98 (original price $49.99)
Mini Lalaloopsy Pet Parade Train — $4.48 (original price $14.99)
Squinkies Princess Crown ————- 2 x $2.96 (original price $9.89 EACH)
Squinkies Scepter Dispenser ——— 2 x $2.96 (original price $9.89 EACH)
Mini Lalaloopsy doll ———————- $1.94 (original price $6.49)

Total Paid: $40.98               Total Original Price: $137!!!

I hope this inspires you to clearance shop too! It may take a little bit of extra time and planning but it  can save you a lot of money and you’ll never be without a birthday present again!

P.S. Please don’t share these pictures with my kids (or yours!). The real magic of clearance shopping is that when a child opens their present they’re none the wiser…

 

Hope

Hope.

Hope is the difference between despair and acceptance.

Without hope we cannot expect to move forward — we cannot even see that there is a place to move to.

If you believe that there is no possible (or impossible) way for progress, for improvement, for the ability to “get better,” there is little motivation to put forth effort in change, since change seems unrealistic.

It’s amazing how the tiniest spark of possibility ignites a fire of hope. It spreads to your perception, your beliefs, your motivation, your efforts.

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Hope shines a light in the dark corners of yourself. It, “invites the possibility.” It shifts, “NO,” “NEVER,” and “CAN’T” to “MAYBE.”

And “MAYBE,” though not as enthusiastic as “YES!” shifts your perception of the world around you enough to encourage the mightily important, “TRY.”

With hope we can try. We can see possibilities. We can move forward. We can change, learn, grow.

With hope there is a future, potentially better than the present. And we can choose to try the best we can.

Hello 2013! New Year, New Choices

2012 seemed like a long, long, long year. (Did I mention LONG?)

Like every year, it was filled with many struggles, lots of work and many choices (both good and not so good). Ups and downs. Overall, for me, it wasn’t the worst year ever. But it certainly wasn’t the best either.

May 2013 be better than 2012. May there be better choices, better outcomes, better acceptance of self & others, better expressions of love, better communication, better goals, better effort, better planning, better empathy, less judgement and better ‘trying’…

May we view 2013 as a new start, as we should everyday. The future is ours to do as we wish. Only we control our destinies – happy or sad, good or bad, progress or stalled, success or failure, hope or dismay – the choice is ours.

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My own personal preference is to not make resolutions but instead focus on my (ever on-going) self-improvement and growth. One of the things I’d really like to accomplish this year is more consistent blogging. As you may have noticed, I haven’t written much in the last few months when the overwhelming time constraints, work and stress of taking five classes, completing a 15 hour/week internship and, you know, still being a mom to two energetic daughters kept me from writing.

I’m currently working on getting a que of blog posts written during my break between semesters and hope to be posting a new blog weekly, preferably on the same day each week. If anyone has any topics they’d like me to write about, suggestions, questions (or even just a hello!) I’d love to hear any and all feedback: ClearComplexityBlog@gmail.com 

So, happy new year! How are YOU going to make 2013 a better year?