I’ve been at home sick for the past two weeks. Nothing interesting, dengue fever, which is running rampant through Bali at the moment, and I scored a not-so-lucky mosquito bite.
So, no big deal, but I have been on the couch, watching TV pretty much all day, every day for a fortnight. Luckily I have been sleeping 12 hours a night to give me a break from the melodrama and dysfunction of pretty much every character on every show.
It occurs to me (in my more lucid moments), that the life I lead and the life that is shown to me on TV could not be more disparate. Even ignoring the details of jobs and mortgages and kids and all of those “normal” things I don’t have, the biggest difference that strikes me is how unhappy everyone seems. Drama is the business, unhappiness the glue. Yes, I know it is TV and happiness wouldn’t make for much of a story, but still, it has kinda been hard to watch!
I don’t know if it the stunning wisdom of being in my 40s, the incredible lifestyle of having jumped off the bandwagon or the fruits of so many workshops and retreats, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around what is being spruiked as the emotional baseline here. I mean, of course I don’t have all my sh*t together all the time, but I think I have a reasonable grip on happiness—hell, I have lost both of my parents, my one true love left me and I have been mostly single for 12 years and yet I consider myself to have a blessed life. So, what is it that I do differently?
Well, I have a magic question…
What if we could get a bit happier? What if we could actually like ourselves a tiny bit more? What if we could grow in our self-love? What if I told you I know a way?
What if I told you it takes no work? What if I told you for free? What if you didn’t have to buy anything or get anything new for this to work? What if I told you that you won’t even notice it happening?
Now, that last one is tricky. You see, we rarely notice change on a day-to-day basis. Did you realize, that no-one ever lost 10 pounds. Not all at once. They lost it ounce by ounce by ounce, and even then, if they kept checking in, 28 times a day, they wouldn’t really notice when it happens.
Happiness is a bit like that. Yes, we might have some huge life altering epiphanies or events happen, but for the most part, our life is just a day by day occurrence, each one seemingly not much different from the one before or the one after. But, like the proverbial frog in a heating pot, change can sneak up on you. You can look back after a month, a year, a decade and realize how different things are. You can jump on the scales at the end of a week and see a different number.
In the darkest time of my life, I would cry myself to sleep every night. I was completely heartbroken and had no idea where my life was going. But I knew something—I knew that what I did with that mattered. I knew that I was the only one who could figure things out and move forward. I didn’t know how, but I knew that what I did in these moments mattered.
So here is my super-secret strategy for changing your entire life. The one question that can improve everything. The path to greater self-love… Are you ready?
You could do this as either a question/prayer, or an affirmation, depending on which style you prefer. Some people believe in some sort of external energy/power/help/god/guidance, others believe that change is an inside job. Either way, this works.
Please help me be one bit better tomorrow.
I will be one bit better tomorrow.
Yep, that simple. Seven or eight words to change your life. I used to say this every night as I cried myself to sleep. And eventually as I stopped crying. And then as I started to see new plans. And then as my new plans began to manifest. And still as my life became okay, then happy, then joyful.
I haven’t actively said it for a while now, but last night, after writing half of this article and being in a bit of a funk, I reactivated my prayer:
Please help me be one bit happier tomorrow.
And today, I am. Just a bit because the post-dengue rash is still driving me itchy-crazy, but I’ll take it.
Author: Tui Anderson
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Motoki Plasticboystudio