My Pursuit of Happiness

Have you ever felt blissfully happy ? Or does it seem like a moving target? I fall in the later category, every time I reach what I perceive as my goal, I realize that comes with its own set of fears and insecurity, and the goal changes.

As a child, I used to play pretend with my cousins; we built elaborate story lines of our lives (we pretended to be adults). My cousin would choose to be a model sometimes, or a business woman other times, but I almost always picked the same thing: a house with a garden and many kids. I would be the PTA and bake sale mom who also had the best roses in the block, so it comes as no surprise that my big dream as an adult was to some day become a mom.

And December 2015 gave me the opportunity to realize this life long dream. I always thought that moment would be pure bliss- after all, if this was all you ever wanted, it should feel special right? It was, but for like 1 or 2 minutes. Then followed waves of fear and insecurity- will everything be OK? things never work out for me, how can this be happening to me now? As we crossed the 12 week threshold, it moved to will I be a good mom? Every friend and relative I know is a mom will probably be better than me- will be the worst mom of the block? What if there are comparisons? Will I live up to other’s expectations? Will I live up to my own expectations? These thoughts are turn into dreams and it becomes a narrative in your head. Every mother gives you her tips and advice with the best intentions, but you get more and more petrified that they think you can’t handle it. As the whirlpool continued, I googled if this anxiety is common and apparently it is, so I can tick off not crazy box!

I know I can overcome it, but what got me thinking is why is it hard to stop worrying? I wake up every morning saying “this is all I have ever wanted so thank you universe” and focus on making it a stressful day, but somehow the thoughts are never far away. When we are aware that a small portion of our life is in our control, we still can’t relinquish control. I understand the worry when it is something you want to achieve, but when you seem to get what you hoped, why does fear get in the way? Is it the chase of our ideal vision which may or may not be realistic?

There are a lot of self help tips and ideas out there, but I haven’t read enough about the logic behind this train of thought. Understanding why would be an interesting window into our minds.

 

As I close this rambling train of thoughts, I am curious to see what you think- share your views and experience below!

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Rant over Ankle Troubles!

I am hoping the title is self-explanatory: this is not a happy post, I am trying to rant about my cursed ankle and my life long struggle with them.

Let me give the history! As a child, I have always been a clumsy child- sprains and falls happened all the time. Everyone I knew was convinced that I don’t know how to watch or that I am always in la- la land. Every time I fall, I normally get the reaction “again?”.

So 6 years ago, I sprained my ankle with a stair accident but it never really healed. 8 months later, I tore my ankle ligaments while running. Apparently the original accident led to ankle ligament strain that never fixed. I also found out that all those falls and sprains could be traced back to one issue- hyperlaxity- my ligaments are over flexible, so they tend to bend more and every sprain makes it a little worse. I had ligament reconstruction surgery to fix the damaged ankle. After 2 months with a ginormous cast and bed rest, I finally could walk again.

Of course, during physio I realized the other ankle is weak- I did the exercises, wore a brace when possible. But it didn’t help much-I walk down the road and it would twist, I tried Zumba and it would twist. I went to a lot of orthopedics, and I always got two sets of options- physio and avoid high impact exercises or surgery. Being risk averse, you always think do you really want to be in bed rest for that long and put your body through a surgery- after all, I didn’t want to do anything crazy just normal everyday activities.

I went hiking in Vermont in June, the hike up was alright but it rained on the way back- and I pretty much twisted and fell the whole way back. The foot felt bad, but no swelling so I figured i escaped. But next day, I walked down the street and twisted it so bad that I couldn’t walk anymore. I had strained the ligaments on my unoperated good leg- which led to 6 weeks of soft cast, 3 weeks of physio and whole lot of limping around and pain. After it looked like it healed, I finally started exercises and activities that weren’t high risk. I started wearing orthotics and special shoes that are supposed to support the foot.

You would think that is when the story ends but no just when I was excited about losing a few pounds (view previous post), I was crossing the street on a Monday morning 3 weeks ago and I twisted it again. I couldn’t walk anymore, I had to limp on one foot to get across the street. I knew this was bad- and the orthopedic confirmed it. Once the sprain subsides, I should get the same surgery on the other ankle too. Of course, the second opinion doctor spent most of the time scaring me about everything that could go wrong and all likely issues and complications scaring the hell out of me. And to add to my relatively full list of troubles, I keep getting the reaction “you sprained it again?”, “how do you keep doing this?”– I keep wondering “don’t people realize do I not feel frustrated myself about spraining it again- shouldn’t you be more comforting?”. I am going back home after 2 years, I have planned trips to my dream destinations Goa and Pondicherry, I have to go to a friend’s wedding- and with a temperamental ankle that flares up without notice I worry about my trip. I also worry about the reactions I will get from the extended family- about the ankle, the weight I would have put back on from not exercising anymore and being couch-bound. It is all adding up, and ended up in this page long rant post!!

SO after this long story what is the point? As I wear a cast that pretty much ties up my leg straight, ice the ankle and eat painkillers periodically, I want to remind the world about how important it is to take care of small injuries and accidents- they all add up and get worse. When you notice a trend of injuries, go to a doctor and check for any underlying cause.

Since I am almost a veteran of sprain care, I wanted to make a list of after ankle sprain care:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Don’t dread painkillers- anti-inflammatory medicines help with the swelling and deal with the pain. But fair warning- a lot of the time, the reduction in pain makes you feel like you are better. So you will end up over tiring yourself so be careful

END OF RANT- I feel like it is almost cathartic to list it out. One of the joys of blogging to me is to write about things that are on my mind, and sometimes they become more easy to deal with after because it is out of my system. So I hope I wake up tomorrow, and my ankle cooperates and I will have the memorable trip to India that I have been dreaming about!

My Happiness Project

I read this incredible post on being emotionally grounded and it spoke to me in many levels.

(Link: http://malavikasuresh.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/how-to-get-grounded-series-get-emotionally-grounded/)

What spoke to me?
The list of behavioral indicators of being “not grounded”

• You don’t feel very stable.
• You don’t know how to feel, and often just react on impulse.
• Your inner dialogue (the way you talk to yourself in your mind) is not very nice (to say the least).
• You find it hard to accept your own feelings or anyone else’s feelings.
• Suddenly, another person’s opinion of you becomes very important.
• You get defensive.
• You feel indecisive about your life. From big life decisions (should I stay or should I go?) to the smaller, but equally important, ones (What do I want for lunch?). You want to decide, but you just don’t know!
• People keep hurting your feelings.
• It’s hard to fall asleep/ stay asleep/ wake up.
• You think it’s a great idea to think about the most stressful and emotional things right before you sleep.
• You feel very sensitive to other people’s moods and energies, often finding yourself riding their mood swings, just trying to keep afloat.
• You cry too much.
• You feel stressed, overwhelmed, uninspired, and lazy (even though you have a voice in your head telling you to get up and get going – you just can’t make yourself do it.)
• Everything that happens to you just feels unsatisfying.

Why does this speak to me?
The last two years have been a challenge. I have always been an emotional person, worried about displeasing people and living up to their expectations. I used to keep my balance by leaning on my close friends.
It is easy to keep your balance when you are in a good place, but when you are not in the best place emotionally it gets all messed up. I have struggled in a new country, where I didn’t have my support system. I don’t have my friends here, and I connected with too many people. Not having a job makes you feel purposeless and you feel like your day is has no meaning, so I end up hiding at home. I have had to study again, against my will because that it my only choice.
Even now, when I do have a job offer, I worry about why I haven’t started yet, what you get in the way. And then there is a whole new chapter of worry left. My first work stint was nothing short of disastrous- I never got a good review and my bosses never liked me. I am married to a family of over achievers. This just makes me shiver with pressure, what if this job ends up being like my first, maybe I am just not any good in a corporate setting? Does that mean my in-laws will be disappointed with me, does that mean I am the “black sheep”?
And in the middle of all this, I feel terrible because I am a complete wreck in front of my husband. Since we got married, we have been in a roller coaster of emotions because of all the turmoil.

What am I doing to get emotionally ground?
As my New Year anti-resolution resolutions, I am trying to get to a more grounded place, to feel whole and complete. I have been a bit emotional and unpredictable, and being emotionally ground will be good for my relationships. I am not a psychologist, but these are small steps I want to do to make myself feel better.

1. Now that I have figured out what is really bothering me, I don’t want to expect that I will wake up tomorrow and life will be amazing all of a sudden. I want to take small decisions everyday that make me feel more in control.

2. I want to build happy memories- plan activities every week that bring a smile to my face- walking around to my favorite places, indulging on my favorite snacks, talk to people who bring positivity and light.

3. I am not going to try and be a superstar at work; I will just learn how things are done and build relationships.

4. I am going to try and do more volunteering. Every time I volunteer with kids, I forget about all my worries and I get to a happy place.

5. I am working on new projects that fuel my passion.

  • a. I love cooking and I going to make it more interesting by trying new recipes.
  • b. I am trying to read at least one book a month so I keep my mind is stimulated.
  • c. I love painting, and I took paint classes last year and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences. I want to work on more art projects. One of my new projects is this cabinet I painted:

my newly painted chest

That is my happiness project which I will be working towards. Share your experiences!

How Pressure and Stress Are Affecting Your Performance (via People-triggers)

Interesting post! I always thought stress and pressure pushed me to focus. This gives me a serious rethink!

How Pressure and Stress Are Affecting Your Performance Some years ago, a Princeton psychologist named Sam Glucksberg brought a group of test subjects into a room. In the room was a table positioned against a wall. On the table was a book of matches, a box of thumbtacks, and a candle. "Your job," Glucksberg told his subjects, "is to attach the candle to the wall in such a way that when it's lit, the wax will not drip onto the table. I will be timing you, and I will use your results to establish averag … Read More

via People-triggers