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Happiness Project Update 4: Listening to my GPS and Getting More Branches on the Tree

27 Jun

Mental wellness. This is a hard one. I’ve been searching for this my entire dysfunctional existence. Seeking spiritual and physical wellness seemed to come easy to me this month. But the mental aspect? That required work. And I didn’t have a shrink.

There’s just so much drama. I’m like the chick on a telenovela on Univision. However, I realized that during this phase of my happiness project, mental wellness was critical to being happier. It was critical to other wellness components (physical and spiritual) that I was working on this month.

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Then it hit me. Physical wellness helps my mental state of being. They are sort of intertwined. Case in point: The TinMan Triathlon. Finishing my second triathlon, put my mental state in a great place among the chaos that surrounded me. I didn’t care that some guy cut me off on the freeway and nearly ran me off a mountain. I didn’t get that crazy road rage. I just brushed it off, turned up the volume on Maroon 5, and kept driving. I felt great the entire day, no setback, not even a writer rejection got me down that day.

But I can’t run a triathlon everyday. What happens when I don’t have exercise or sports as an outlet? Where’s my mental state of wellness then? Probably at some supermarket parking lot in the middle of the night, listening to Journey,  and drowning in rocky road ice cream or Claim Jumpers Chocolate Silk Pie with a plastic spoon I bought at the store, because I couldn’t wait until I got home. Besides, no one judges you at the supermarket parking lot.

But how did I avoid these moments of low this week? Because you know I had low moments. There’s never a week that goes by where I can say everything was spectacular for seven days. It may happen to other people, but not on my planet.

What tends to set it off?

The Usual Suspects: Family.

But whose family doesn’t make them crazy, right?

Blood is blood. You’ve got to learn to live with them. GPS makes this possible. I learned that you gotta have a Family Global Positioning System.  I’ve learned to work my own personal navigation system and listen to the alerts, flashing lights, and voice telling me to turn left or right and warning me of the dangers and drama up ahead.

Being able to navigate has been key to mental wellness this week. Whether it was my mother, sister, or dude flipping out for things that they really shouldn’t be flipping out about, I turned to my GPS and listened. It tells you when to pick your battles. Sometimes when you walk away things get better. Sometimes when you blow up, getting things off your chest helps you weigh less, mentally. You’re not carrying around all that negative crap and the “what ifs” don’t get you because you laid it all out.

But what about yourself? What happens when you’re the problem?

Sometimes you just wake up and feel like crap. Nothing is going your way. Nothing. And then you get in the shower and things get worse. The shower. A place where things are supposed to be predictable, right? You reach for the soap and realize there’s a measly wad of mush hanging out in some cloudy water. So you think I may not need soap today.

You reach for the shampoo and there’s none. Not a drop. Not even any residue inside the bottle you can use to mix with water to make fake shampoo. They just left the TRESamme bottle there … staring and laughing at your naked body. So you get out of the tub, get a new bottle from the cabinet, nearly slip and kill yourself coming back in the tub. You take a minute wash your head, and then take another minute to stand under the running water. You have so much going on in your head, you don’t even remember whether you washed your hair. You have to look down at the tub to see bubbles to confirm it. Yeah. If you can’t even remember shampooing your head a minute ago, you got issues.

So where’s my mental wellness kick? How do I get rid of this funk that just accosted me in the morning?

I found most of the stuff that was related to my lack of mental wellness had to do with where I was in life as opposed to where I wanted to be. Career. Family. Future. That was it. I was here at the bottom, and I wanted to be there at the top. Real simple.

This was my mental wellness speed bump.

But two things helped me out. My mantra and the new quote.

Mantra: “You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” — Trent from the movie Swingers.

Something I tell myself to set me straight mentally and emotionally, every now and then.

The new quote?

”  … Research shows that the more elements make up your identity the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.” — Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project.

I had to broaden my self-identity definition. My soul continues to be a writer. This was the trunk of my tree, but my trunk was currently getting festered by termites. I just needed more branches. More creative challenges. Not that I don’t have enough challenges with two kids. But challenges in way that help my mental wellness goals.

The fact that I figured that out this week helped me. It put me at ease among all the chaos. It helped me spring forward and smile, because I knew I had the ability to grow plenty of branches. If one branch got cut off, broken, or crapped on too many times by the birds … no worries. I was still a bad-ass tree because I had more branches coming, some even with flowers.