If you’re a happier person, your work will be better. If work is good, you’ll be a happier person.
Well, crap, right? That seems like a pretty closed loop. But what if you aren’t as happy as you’d like to be, and your work isn’t as good as you wish it was?
Doing little things to make yourself happier isn’t all that hard to do if you do it a little at a time. Even those of us that are content with our lives can always be happier. And if happiness is the key to success, writers need to try as hard as they can to find it.
It used to be a romantic notion that writers were the tortured souls of the world, and people believed that if a writer wasn’t depressed they couldn’t be expected to write the next great novel. But most of us write because we want – some would say need – to write, and doing what we want is what makes us happy. If you aren’t happy with yourself, how can you have the motivation to do something voluntary? Because that’s what writing is, isn’t it? Nobody is making you do it, you just want (need) to.
Well, I’ve been in amazing place in life for the past year. To be honest it seems like I’ve been happy for much longer than that, but I’ve really started to notice it in the past 10 months (which, ‘coincidentally’, is when I started writing twice as much as I used to, and developing a really good habit of working regularly).
As a part of ‘It’s a Me Monday, Part II’, I wanted to share a few things that I think are great contributors to happiness:
1. Coffee (surprise, surprise) and green tea. This can be generalized as caffeine. Nobody has ever said, “Damn. All this energy and motivation is really pissing me off.” Energy and motivation go along with feelings of joy and a carefree mindset. Caffeine is the best kind of drug. Green tea also has a bunch of health benefits other than the energy it gives you. Try having iced coffee or tea during the day, especially in the summer.
2. Being organized and clean. No, I’m not a neat freak, but having all of my stuff put away helps me focus on the things I want to do, without having to worry about doing something later.
3. Lists. Again, I’m not a list freak, but if you have things to do, isn’t it nice to know that you won’t forget any of them? If I have things I need to get done, I write them down on a running list that I keep open on my Mac (I use Notes, so it automatically syncs to my phone). “Shit, I’m forgetting to do something but I don’t know what,” is one of the most annoying thoughts in the world
4. Being active and physically healthy. This might be a placebo, but if I know I’m taking care of myself I always feel good when I sit down to write. It’s much easier to get to work when you’re confident that your life is in balance. There are also a ton of scientific studies that show that regular exercise increases energy and focus throughout the day. Even if the science is wrong, it’s still a great self-esteem booster. Look good, feel good, write good…write well for all you English teachers out there.
5. Hanging out with friends. Don’t be a couch potato or recluse; see your friends, even if you don’t love to go out all the time. Crack a smile – there’s no better feeling than being part of a group of people who are all laughing at the same thing.
All of this helps you with…
6. Having a passion in life and doing something to work toward it every day, no matter how small it is. If you can’t already tell that my passion is writing, then may god have mercy on your soul. But seriously, I love creating stories, and I do something about that every day. And it feels good. I could have the shittiest day, I could trip over myself and do that ‘Wait, did anybody see that?’ look-around and find the entire Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show lineup staring at me and laughing, I could stub my toe and scream ‘F***!’ and look up and find a five year old and his glaring mother in front of me, I could accidentally mass text a message meant for my girlfriend, and I’d still be able to go to bed happy. Even if all I do is read five pages of a good book and notice something about it that helps me in some way with my writing, I feel accomplished (though, doing more than that is highly encouraged). Moving in the right direction feels good, so make sure you take a second to realize that you’re doing something – for me, the most important thing – right.
What are a few things that you think contribute to your happiness? How do you think they affect you as a writer? As a person in general?