Monthly Review: August

Here is my monthly review for August. If you want to read July’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Re-discovering my mindfulness practice. I had been feeling very disconnected from my mindfulness practice this summer. I stopped my daily sitting and basically just stopped being mindful altogether. I couldn’t figure out if it was hormone related, heat-related, or something else. I didn’t force myself and this month got really into practice again. I started reading this amazing book, Mindful Birthing, which I love. It’s a childbirth-focused class of the eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program R and I did and feels really right with my philosophies and mindset. There’s a whole set of working through pain practices in there that I am (kind of!) excited to try.
  • Weekends of leisure. After a busy July and with an upcoming busy September, it was so nice to have almost every weekend free this month. We went to Maine, went to the beach a lot, and had a lot of free time. I found myself enjoying it even more because I know we won’t have free weekends like this in a long time, and it was a nice way to connect with myself and with R.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Working out.  I have kept up my standard exercise routine – two days of lifting, a day or so of yoga, almost daily stretching, and walking a lot. But man, has it been hard to recover. I decided, though I have been crushing my deadlifts recently, I’m going to drop my weight down and go to higher reps in all my lifts. I can complete every workout, but the recovery time has been getting longer and longer and I’ve had more feelings of – I just don’t want to do this. So I’m going to take it a little easier and listen to my body. I started this in an open level yoga class yesterday where I opted out of just about every advanced variation. Normally I would have a lot of ego around that but I focused on being loving and mindful of where I truly was at the moment, and that was a nice practice to add-on.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • More intentional time usage. Honestly, I’m not sure how this went. It’s not really a thing I’ve been thinking that much about. I almost see it as I’m not using my time as well/efficiently as possible because I’m…just really tired. And that’s fine, isn’t it?

4. What am I working toward?

  • At-home productivity.  I have completed 40% of my pregnancy (!!), and am starting to get a little panicked about all the things I have to do/want to do to prepare that we just haven’t moved forward on. Basically getting our apartment in order, having whatever furniture we deem necessary, having maintenance do some basic repairs, etc. I want to do a house walk through with R and just make put everything on a giant list that we can focus on.
  • Maintaining/increasing mindfulness. My daily practice has been great, and I want to continue mindfulness in other daily activities. I’ve been doing this pretty consistently on the subway instead of listening to a podcast or reading, and while walking, but want to focus on incorporating 1-2 more mindfulness practices into my life (maybe mindful eating and something else).

Giving up on Happiness

Recently, all of my life advice has included some variation of, “You’ll never be happy.” I increasingly think this is true, not just for me, but for everyone.

Happiness at its root is essentially a neuro-chemical reaction. Your brain shifts its chemical makeup slightly due to whatever reason and your mind interprets those feelings as happiness. Almost by definition, your brain will adapt to whatever that first stimuli was, and re-change the chemical processes to remove the additional dopamine.

What does this mean?

You basically can’t sustain happiness. You can live a meaningful life in many ways, but you can’t shift your life to ensure feelings of happiness are foremost in your mind. Being happy, by itself, almost causes a shift that will eventually reverse and be experienced as unhappiness.

Since realizing this (and most credit is due to my MBSR class), I care a lot less about my mood at any given moment. I still notice and acknowledge it, but now I try to accept it regardless of whatever it is. I don’t feel guilty for being upset or strive to channel happiness. Instead, I let myself accept what is actually present which, ironically, often leaves me happier because I’m not trying to force something onto my circumstances.