I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I have for many years.
But when I moved north two years ago, my struggle got exponentially worse.
I didn’t know that moving here to Wyoming would cause that. I didn’t really even think about it. I just figured I’d be the same me I always was.
And then I experienced what I refer to as the never ending winter. Oh sure, it does eventually end. But not for long. The majority of the year where I live is spent with gray, gloomy skies. It’s just a fact of life when living here. And, like I said, I never really thought about it before moving here.
The thing is, when you find yourself in a depression that seems to never go away, even the smallest little frustrations in life cause you to spiral further down.
I’ve spent the past two years on that downward spiral.
I get outside into the sun as much as I can, and I’ve learned that I even have to get outside on the gloomy days. I take loads of supplements. But I still struggle. And I am always working to overcome the way I feel inside.
And now I have come up with another way to help me. I wanted to share it with you because it may help someone else.
I’ve decided to create my own personal happiness project. And I’m doing it through journaling. I know not everyone enjoys journaling, but what I am talking about doesn’t require pages and pages a day.
I’m sure you are aware of gratitude journaling. It seems to be all the rage these days to write down what you are thankful for. It’s a lovely idea, and I am not knocking it at all. We should always practice gratitude in some way. But I’m changing gratitude journaling into what I am calling happiness journaling.
Basically, the project I came up with for myself is pretty simple. I am going to keep my journal near my bed and each morning when I wake up I will write down what makes me feel happy.
Happiness vs Gratitude
Happiness is different from gratitude.
I am not writing down what I am thankful for. Gratitude brings about an entirely different emotional response than happiness. If you don’t quite know what I mean, here are some examples:
I am grateful for my house. It is a roof over my head that I feel blessed to have. But I am not always happy to be here. I don’t always feel happy in this house.
I am grateful to be able to homeschool my kids. But I am not always happy doing so.
I am grateful for my amazing husband. He works hard, he supports our family, he is a kind person. But I am not always happy to see him. (relationships are tricky that way)
I am grateful for food on the table. But I am not always happy with the choices.
And here’s a big one… I’m grateful for social media. But I am not always happy using it.
Do you see the difference?
This morning, I woke up and thought about what made me happy. My initial happiness came from the sliver of sunlight passing through my bedroom curtains. It made me feel happy. And then I smelled my husband’s aftershave. He was already gone to work, but the smell lingered. And that smell made me happy.
And when I took a few moments to focus on those happy feelings, I felt better about starting the day. I felt more alive. I felt, well, happier.
Those are the things I am writing down. It’s not paragraph after paragraph, it’s just me jotting down happy things…
- sunlight streaming through the window
- aftershave in the air
Yep, it’s that simple. No need to elaborate. And as I go through the day, I can look at that quick journal entry and remind myself of what brought me happiness. And somehow, it helps.
I don’t know the science behind it, or even if there is science, but it helps.