Take care of your needs, and everyone else’s, too

You may read the title of this post and think, hey, I’ve got enough to take care of for myself without having to worry about everyone else. And to a point, I grant you that it’s completely okay to be selfish sometimes, especially when you’re feeling overstretched and your body is telling you to slow down a bit. I’ll be the first person to recommend a night at home alone relaxing and recharging to get me time – why would I go take something else on when I can just take care of myself for a few hours?

But it’s not always about doing big favors for people, or even spending hours listening to someone’s troubles. I’m talking about some of the basic, human needs that we all share – the ones that aren’t really that unique after all. The other day, a friend shared with me and another friend that he’d heard that people crave 13 hugs a day. 13! we both said in amazement. Sounds like a lot. But is it really? I thought about how in the course of one day, there are many moments when I wouldn’t turn down a hug, and when I really could use a hug, but I don’t just walk around my office asking for them – societal norms tell us that’s not really “appropriate.” (Although, ask a few of my coworkers and they’ll tell you that I HAVE asked them out of the blue for a hug before.) So in addition to us all wanting a bunch of hugs throughout the day, what else do we all need? Here are some of my guesses:

  • A smile
  • A pat on the back/arm for comfort
  • Kind or encouraging words
  • Reminders that we’re appreciated/loved/needed
  • Hearing from someone that hasn’t checked in for awhile
  • Laughter
  • Something that gives us the warm fuzzies
  • To be heard

These things aren’t that hard, and they don’t require a lot of time. We do these things without thinking about them many days, but sometimes, they might feel burdensome to dole out if we are in a bad mood. But just think about this: if you’re having a bad day, you need all the things above, so someone else has to take care of you. In return, you do the same when someone else is down. And filling someone’s needs often leads to more personal happiness and translates to our own needs being met. Recall how happy you made a friend when you dropped off hot food when they were sick, or when you took on a coworker’s task to lighten their load. If they were grateful and showed it, it probably made you feel even better about yourself, too.

We all have basic, human needs that need a little help being fulfilled. Let’s see if we can all help each other take care of them, and ourselves.

Follow my friend @simplyleap on twitter if you need inspiration through her #takecaretuesdays.

27 on 11/11/11

Sugarloaf Hike: thanks Kim for helping me cross of an item for my DC 5th year bucket list AND my 11/11/11 list!

So, it’s finally here: 11/11/11.  I’ve made it a pretty big deal – the birthday piece of course, but also my list of 11 things by 11/11/11. Many of you have been a part of this little two-month experiment, either by sending me recipes, receiving my letters, or taking me to new places. Thank you to each of you — what good is growth and attaining happiness if you can’t do it with others?

And now for the big question — did I actually achieve my 11 things by 11/11/11? Here are the results:

1.   Try 11 new recipes.
I can’t remember all of them, but I’m pretty sure I’ve made more than 11 new things, whether they were recipes or impromptu ingredient mashups. Favorites were an apple crumble and a chicken and tomato crock pot creation.

2.   Give a handwritten note to 11 people.
I believe the number is about eight.

3.   Run at least 11 miles each week.
Some weeks this happened, many I wasn’t even close. I’m running a 10k on Sunday, so I’m feeling back on track.

4.   Write 11 blog posts.
Eh…only banged out five.

5.   Do something nice for 11 people.
I didn’t really do a good job at keeping track of this – but I’d say it happened – all the little things add up.

6.   Do/visit/eat at/try 11 different places, restaurants, or things to do.
Absolutely happened. Can’t even remember them all, but they were all fantastic! Seeing my first TEDX, going to Churchkey, hiked Sugarloaf…and lots of other things.

7.   Reach out to 11 people not expecting to hear from me.
Didn’t do this that well, but did make a few phone calls that were great!

8.   Read 11 books.
Somehow, I thought I would fly through this, but not so much. I read four books. Two of them I read in a day each, the other two I let drag out.

9.   Meet 11 new people.
Hmmm…I suppose this could be true from various meetups and things. I couldn’t name them all, though.

10. Learn 11 new things.
If you count random wikipedia lookups and all the things I read for work on a daily basis, then most definitely yes. But I didn’t learn anything new that was tangible, like knitting or skateboarding. This is probably one of the biggest things I want to work on.

11. Be happy with who I am.

So all in all – it was a fair shot, but nowhere near “successful” if I go by the raw numbers. But the bigger picture here is that #11 seems like it is contingent on the other 10 things, but it isn’t that straightforward. There are so many factors that contribute to our happiness, but as Gretchen Rubin realized for her First Splendid Truth: To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

That means there are good days, and bad days. That some things make us really happy, and some only moderately so. There are things that should make us happy, but all we can do is think about the things that make us sad. But to get to happiness, you’re constantly growing, and working toward things that you choose for you. For me, it’s reading more books, and cooking as much as I can, because those things make me feel the most at peace, the most me. It’s avoiding things and people that make me unhappy – not always an easy task, but within our control for the most part.

On 11/11/11, at 27 years old, I know that today isn’t really the deadline for this list and more – it’s just the start of the journey.

Are you standing in the way of your happiness?


True Happiness

There are the people that are always happy, no matter what. They never seem to get angry, frustrated, sad, or down about anything. They may be standing in the middle of a hurricane, with no clothes on, and no one offering them help, and they’d still find something positive to say. It’s this guy, which Gallup says is the happiest guy in the country.

Then there are most of us, who have our happy days, sad days, and maybe some roller coaster days where we swing from highs and lows and in-betweens in the normal course of our lives as we journey through jobs, significant others, loves and losses — it’s all a part of life.

And then there the people who always seem to be unhappy, no matter what. They are called Debbie Downers, Party Poopers, sour-faces, etc. Sometimes they annoy us, but most of the time, at least for me, they make me sad, because I know that they’re the only ones standing in the way of their own happiness.

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