Strong women and men, do you want to be happier? Strong, defined as you get up early, grind out work all day, and help others to get better through your generosity? Strong meaning an inner toughness that gets the job done, often at your expense? Here are three mistakes to avoid to increase your time, energy, and happiness.
Avoid the illusion that you need to do it all yourself.
When I attended a cool new thing called a middle school, “I Am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel was considered poetry. I recall trying to drum up deep feelings of isolation but failed. It seemed to me at the time, and it still does, that being a rock island is grim rather than strong.
There is a lot to admire about being strong. Others depend on you. You get the job done. You make the world a better place. In this lies the risk of isolation by default. To believe there is no one on whom you can depend. To feel you’re the only one who can get the job done.
Ask, “Can I delegate this task?”
Ask, “Am I self-imposing this task or this deadline and can I drop it or change it?”
Ask, “Do I need help and where can I find it?”
Avoid doing work that others can do for themselves.
As a mother, I quickly learned that just because I can do my children’s work, doesn’t mean that I should. I can pick toys off of a floor faster than a two-year-old girl. I can wash dishes better than a seven-year-old boy. Decidedly, I can clean a bathroom better than a teenager.
That’s not the point.
Experiencing firsthand the shenanigans that children create to avoid their work is eye opening in how it mirrors behaviors in adults. Consider the worker who feigns an inability to meet a deadline. Or the relative who is chronically confused about their contribution. Or the friend who takes more than he gives. Where do you draw the line?
Start by helping the truly needy to include young children, the mentally ill, addicted, physically challenged, poor, elderly, marginalized, and grieving. More commonly, the key is to stand firm at the personal responsibility level of those involved. A healthy and capable two-year-old can pick up toys. A seven-year-old can wash dishes. A teenager can clean a bathroom. Young adults can earn income. Co-workers can meet deadlines. Relatives can understand. Friends can be generous. Respect their abilities and let them be competent.
Ask, “Is my spouse able to initiate and complete this task?”
Ask, “Is my co-worker paid for and responsible to meet this deadline?”
Ask, “Is my friend willing to bring fun, creativity, generosity, or depth to this relationships?”
Avoid neglecting your well-being and self-care.
The one-two punch of default isolation and doing the work of capable others is common, dangerous, and costly. Stress, mood, energy and weight can go from manageable to unmanageable:
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.
- In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.
- More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity.While we don’t always know the exact causes of mental and physical problems for an individual, we do know that symptoms reduce with proper support from others and improved self-care.Well-being includes your highest calling and relationships, your inner life, your work and the space you inhabit, your social life, and your physical body. Self-care includes tending to each aspect of well-being and a high-impact place to start is taking care of your body. Exercise regularly; I like to run. Make peace with food and eat well. Sleep tight but no need to obsess.
Ask, “Am I giving to others to the point of depletion and exhaustion?”
Ask, “Are symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, and unhappiness increasing?”
Ask, “If I asked for help or let others do for themselves in one area of my life, would my happiness increase?”
A strong character, determination, and work ethic is a powerful gift to share with the world, a gift that can sneakily deplete you. By avoiding these common mistakes and asking yourself these insight-catching questions, your happiness will increase, and you will be stronger than ever.
I’m Angie McIntyre, and I believe that care leaders merit support, running is better than complaining, and wellness is for everyone. Do you? Sign up for my Angie Mc Now newsletter and gain the wellness and care you deserve.