Here’s the sentence I keep typing and then deleting: “Today sucked and I was so stressed out at work that the happiness tasks were just plain old tasks, and I hated it, and it was stupid, and I got nothing out of it so what was the point?” I keep typing it because it’s kind of true. I keep deleting it because it’s kind of not.
I love breaking down a conundrum, so let’s dig in to this one. True: I was a frantic, impatient, worried sack of stress today. True: The happiness work did feel like just another bunch of tasks on an already long list of things I had to get done today. True: I did hate having to do it, and it all did seem really amazingly stupid. False: I got nothing out of it.
The stress of the day took center, left, and right stage, and I didn’t feel a bit kind, happy, patient, positive, loving, hopeful, or any other bit of sunshine on the happiness spectrum. I did the tasks anyway, but my heart was not in it. I repeat – not in it! But now that I’m sitting down really reflecting on those experiences, I realize, “Hey, wait a crazy no-sense second here; I did get something out of it.”
Which now makes me think that the benefit of this work might come from the reflection on the experience more than just the action. The actions can feel like tasks, but maybe the action is just the vehicle to the experience. Which also means that thinking about the day might be a necessary component of all of this. And if that’s true, then numbing out in the evening counteracts all the good you might have gotten out of the day. Does that mean there’s a secret sixth task and Shawn Achor lied his face off? Each day has brought something different, so I will wait until tomorrow to judge him—two days max.
Random act of kindness
Remember yesterday when I asked the universe to give me a clear and definite opportunity to act on? It’s still spinning ‘em out. All day. It’s like Universe Gone Wild now, and its version of boobs is people in need. I got on the train for work at 6 am this morning because I had to get to work early and at the very next stop, this really bewildered looking guy got on and asked the entire car, “Does anyone have $1.49 for a cup of coffee at Pete’s? It would really warm me up.” This isn’t NYC; homeless guys don’t normally panhandle on public transportation, and he was so specific. $1.49. Cup of coffee. He even had the place. I asked the universe to be clear and it provided. No one responded or even looked at him, and I remember someone commenting about the horribleness of feeling invisible. So I worked up the kindness courage and gave him $2, almost expecting that he’d give me 51-cents change back.
Every time I walked outside, people asked me for very specific dollar amounts. A lady who needed 75-cents because someone asked her who the president was and now she had to go look it up. No idea what it means, but it was a valid request. A guy who needed 22-cents to help him get a biscuit. I only had two cents left, but he thanked me for it and said “Only twenty-cents left” with such glee that I felt like a heel for not going to get him the damn biscuit.
Something feels lazy, though, about just giving money to homeless people and counting that as an act of kindness. It feels too easy, especially working in downtown San Francisco where you’re constantly asked for money. But they kept coming, and I knew I didn’t have it in me for something more thoughtful today, so I was grateful they asked. Besides, I had the change; they didn’t.
Walked the 2 miles home again today and cursed this project each step of the way. I seriously considered calling a cab to get me up the final hilly two blocks. No big realization here, but I still keep feeling like I should be doing more. I heard from three people today that they were going for runs. I think it’s a sign. I should run. I used to love running. But out-of-shape Randy would like to perish the thought.
I have a giant U-shaped body pillow that I call Joe. Joe and I are deeply in love. So much so that I often have to drape him over my desk at night because if we sleep together, I’ll never get out of bed. It’s just too damn good. So I save Joe for weekends…until today.
Knowing I needed to change this one up a bit, I sat in bed instead of my desk chair, and I wrapped Joe’s fluffy arms around me and meditated the shit out this task. It was SO much better tonight, and I had some tactile thing to rely on, some comfort to sink into. Also, a woman who’s following this blog suggested that I think of my wandering mind as a butterfly. Crazy helpful! Instead of counting breaths, I imagined my thoughts as a butterfly, and the focal points were when the butterfly rested and beat its wings to the rhythm of my breath. I’m not a butterfly kind of guy, but this actually worked, and the meditation itself really helped to reset my mental state—more refreshing than profound.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) The random text I received today from an old friend that included a picture of her adorable daughter. Someone was thinking about me.
2) Advice from people I don’t know and my ability to hear it.
3) This new deodorant I found that smells so good that I smile a little inside each time I get a whiff.
Reflect on something good that happened
I came home thinking I had this really stressful, bad day, but then I realized that some good stuff happened.