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10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

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10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

I’m currently doing #100happydays and that’s what prompted this article. All the below things, at some point, have made me unhappy. However, being happy is a much more fun alternative. Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d explore how some things that seemed overwhelmingly and unequivocally negative could actually be positive. Here we go:

1. Traffic

Could you look at it as annoying? Sure. An inconvenience? Absolutely. But, yes, this has made me happy. And no, I’m not insane (okay, debatable). I love listening to music in my car and singing and rapping along, and traffic gives me time to listen to more songs. I’ve been in traffic on roads that have beautiful views either side. I looked outside and just appreciated it. The more standstill the traffic, the better. I can switch off from driving for a bit and chill. How often have I gotten angry over traffic? A fair few times. Being happy about it is more fun. Trust me.

2. When it rains

The weather seems to have a real effect on people’s happiness even though it’s out of our control. When it rains, I can sit inside and read. Watch Netflix. Catch up on my group chats. Spend time with my parents. And, one of my favourites, write articles.

3. When people complain

I used to find this so annoying. And I still do, to an extent. The more I hear it, the more I cringe. I just can’t believe how negative some people are. They can’t be enjoying life. They just can’t. To jump straight to the negative like that is unhealthy. And just plain boring.

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However, it does make me realise how grateful and happy I am. I would love to be able to help everyone whose first reaction is to complain (and maybe one day I’ll find a way), but, for now, I’ll just let it help me be even happier.

4. Spraining my ankle (while playing basketball)

Every athlete is thinking I’m an idiot right now. Let me explain. Every time I’ve been injured it’s forced me to sit on the sidelines. To watch the game. To study our team. Where are we going wrong? What do we do well? How can I make everyone better? It’s helped me be a more intellectual player. A calmer player. A more effective player. In my first game back from my last injury I was relentlessly assertive. I was fired up. I wanted to make up for lost time. I just played brilliantly. It was, arguably, my best game of the season and we demolished the other team.

See, all you athletes, I was going somewhere with this.

5. Girls rejecting me

This is something I used to be really embarrassed by, and I’m sure most people can relate. Rejection doesn’t feel particularly great. You put yourself out there and you get shot down, for lack of a better cliché. I remember walking up to girls, being really nervous, and then having those nerves justified by her being totally uninterested. Awesome. What I didn’t see coming was that this made being rejected easier, not harder. I started thinking that if I was rejected then she probably wasn’t worth my time anyway. And it actually became kind of fun. I started to realise that it’s a part of life, much as I was trying to deny that, so I might as well just enjoy it and be happy that I had the courage to approach her in the first place. And, surprisingly (or perhaps not), I’ve had more success since.

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6. When I ruin a song

This can definitely be one of the most annoying things. But this happened to me the other day, and I smiled when I realised what I’d done. I was confused at first. Why was I smiling? Then it hit me. It was a song I used to always, always listen to with my friend. I’ve no idea how many times we played it, but if I had to guess, I’d say around 32,593. It just made me think of those memories and how much fun we used to have. It really took me by surprise. In a good way, though.

7. Getting locked out and playing I spy

When we first realised we were locked out, I was pissed off. It was late. It was raining. My friend’s mum wasn’t going to be home for a while. We’d bought snacks to have while watching a film. The best laid plans of mice and men were going awry. At least we had the car to retreat to. Usually we would’ve all taken our phones out and started checking our “social” media. However, my friend’s wife didn’t have her phone, and she didn’t want to feel left out. My friend suggested we play I spy. At first, because I was annoyed about being locked out, I wasn’t massively enthusiastic. He said he’d go first. “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with … S.” Then, it was like we were children again. “Satellite dish!” “Streetlight!” “Storm!” It was awesome. Even at the time I didn’t appreciate how fun it was. Looking back, it really was. I can’t even remember what the thing beginning with S was. Details never seem to matter in end.

8. When my phone has no signal

Again, initially, this is annoying. I need to go on the internet! I need to check all my group chats! I need to Snapchat back! I’ve only recently realised how easy it is for me to let my phone dictate to me. To grab my attention whenever it wants. To be in charge, if you will. (I know. Bad pun. Not sorry.)

Recently, I didn’t (couldn’t) check my phone for a few hours. And you know what? Nothing happened. Nothing. And it was then that I thought that so much of what I do on my phone is unnecessary and just out of habit. Reply on WhatsApp, scroll on Twitter, check Facebook … it just doesn’t matter. Most of it’s just boring. It felt good to get away from the noise. From the clutter. I switched off my mind from social media and felt relaxed. Does your phone control you? What would happen if you switched it off?

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9. Saying goodbye to my best friend

My best friend lives in China. He came to visit England recently and we had a fun old time. Clearly, there’s the inevitable moment where we have to say goodbye to each other. What made things worse this time around was that his wife started crying. We were fine (kind of). But that almost got me.

When I got in the car to drive off, something strange happened. After my sadness subsided (which didn’t take long), I felt genuinely happy and started smiling. It was a bit weird, initially, but then I realised that, yes, we had to say goodbye for now, but I was going to see him again. Of course I was. We see each other less than once a year, but every time we do it’s as if we’re roommates in college again, blowing off assignments, not going to class, and playing video games until 2 a.m. This happened often. Sorry Mum and Dad. All those memories flooded to my brain, as well as all the more recent ones – his wedding in China, for example – and I was just happy. Another cool surprise.

10. Getting complimented

Getting a compliment feels amazing. The person didn’t have to say it. They could’ve stayed quiet and I would’ve probably been none the wiser. But, out of all the things they could’ve chosen to do, they chose to compliment me. They chose to notice something about me, make me feel significant, help me be happy for that moment. It’s such a selfless thing to do.

You might be wondering why I’ve put this on here. You might not think it’s unusual. It is. It’s really unusual. Don’t believe me? Give a few people a compliment today and notice how many of them try to brush it off. Try to ignore it. Almost try desperately to not let themselves believe it. Why? My (somewhat educated) guess is that they don’t feel they deserve it. They don’t feel worthy of it. That’s really sad to me. If you don’t think you’re “good enough”, it’s really difficult for other people to see that you are. When someone compliments me, I say thank you. They’ve selflessly given me a compliment, and hell yeah, I deserve to be complimented. I know there’ll be some of you reading this who’ll think I’m arrogant for thinking that. That’s cool. Would you advocate that I start thinking that I don’t deserve to be complimented? Don’t deserve to be liked, or loved?

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To finish …

It’s all about how you think, and why you think that way. We all think things are positive and negative as a gut reaction, but get hold of this reaction. Don’t just mindlessly believe it. Why do you see it as negative? Because society told you to? Because your parents told you to? Is it actually what you really think? If you could look at the world in any way, how would you look at it? Would you see positive instead of negative? Fun instead of boredom? Opportunities instead of problems? What view would make you happy? What view of the world would you tell your kids to have? One that suffocates them? Or one that sets them free?

Featured photo credit: jessicahtam via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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