This week on my favorite marriage podcast, Tony mentioned a recent moment when he'd lost his temper with their son. His explanation for what had caused him to snap was, of all things, about the weather: "I was hot, he was hot..."
It immediately reminded me of this post from The Happiness Project blog, in which Gretchen talks about how much happier she is when she "treats [herself] like a toddler." The idea is that when you travel with a toddler, you have to plan ahead and make sure your kid is comfortable, well-rested, well-fed, etc., or you're going to have a miserable situation on your hands. So if you want to make yourself happy, why not plan along the same lines?
A while back, I determined something about myself. If I am
- Too hot
- Too cold
- In pain/uncomfortable
- Or hungry
One of the primary objections to a "happiness project" is that it's selfish. It's all about you and your own personal happiness. But the truth is, for me to be the best wife/friend/daughter/employee/Christian I can be, I need to remove as many barriers as possible.
I have been doing pretty well taking care of myself since I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, but I utterly failed yesterday. I knew my boss and I were going to have a lunch/brainstorming session outside the office to work on our department's strategic plan, and so I said to myself, "Oh yay, I don't need to pack my lunch in the morning because I'm going out for lunch!" It did not cross my mind that part of my "lunch" is an assortment of snacks I eat throughout the day to keep my blood sugar stabilized. Whoops.
Fast-forward to yesterday evening and I was so weak and shaky I could barely drive myself home. I crawled up the stairs and collapsed in our living room. I did finally manage to get myself some Triscuits and then feed the rats, but I didn't get the mail or clean up the dining room table or play with the rats like I should when I get home. I was utterly useless until Mike got home and made me some dinner. Not a good wife. Not even a good roommate.
Working to make sure I'm happy and healthy is not a selfish goal! Whether I'm taking care of myself has real consequences for the people around me, even at the most basic level of regulating my body temperature and being fed and rested. How many of us, like Tony, have lost our temper because we were cranky about something really fundamental within our body?
One of my happiness commandments is "prioritize right." Making sure I'm comfortable and functioning at my highest level has been a goal of mine since starting my happiness project. I have a bad habit, if I'm working intently on something, that I will sit in an uncomfortable position or put off going to the bathroom or eating food for way too long. It's incredibly stupid and I don't know why I do it. This year I've tried harder to pay attention to those bodily signals. Sometimes when I'm at home I'll even talk out loud to get myself to act:
"Jessica. You are sitting in an uncomfortable position. Stop what you're doing and reposition yourself."
"Jessica. It's 1pm. Shut your laptop and go make yourself some lunch."
It might sound stupid to talk to myself like that, but it's important for everyone that I take care of myself. I mean, if I'm exhausted, hungry, and I've got a cramp in my leg, do you think I'm going to feel like having sex with my husband? Probably not.
Take the time to take care of yourself! It's not selfish to focus on your own needs if it helps you to be a better partner and friend.
How do you take care of yourself? Do you struggle with it like I do?