It’s my birthday and I’ll be happy if I want to

a hearty bowl of oats

Guys, it’s my birthday today! I’m thirty-one.

Wow, I haven’t typed that before and it feels so weird. Actually, to be honest, I haven’t wanted to accept that I’m in my thirties since before I turned thirty. I’ve been living my life trying not to think about being thirty, trying not to think about being any age really. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. Thirty has been a year of a lot of self-reflection, a lot of learning about myself and about the nature of others.

I read recently that you learn most about who you are from age twenty to age forty. I’m sure that doesn’t exactly hold true for everyone, but regardless, that’s a lot of years spent figuring your stuff out! Almost a quarter of a century. A quarter of a lifetime.

And if one of the foundations of happiness and leading a happy life is understanding yourself, I’d say it’s time well spent.

Here are some of the more recent things I’ve learned. Food for thought, if you will.

1. If you understand yourself better, you will have happier days:

For example, I get really grumpy if I fall asleep on my couch at night. I used to do this all the time, usually after dinner while Nick and I were watching TV. I’d start snoozing, wake up, realize I’d lost precious hours in my evening and be instantly grumpy.

Nick will confirm, these were not fun times. No, ma’am.

Now, I do everything I can to keep this from happening. Occasionally this doesn’t work despite my best efforts, but most of the time, when I’m feeling sleepy, I admit this to myself, get up, and get ready for bed.

It makes a HUGE difference. I’m serious. Think about something that makes you grumpy in the day and see if there’s a way you can avoid it. Or find a solution for it.

2. Embrace the fact that you are a morning or a night person:

Another sleep-related example, but hear me out. This one I’ve stolen straight from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project where she talks about morning people (larks) vs. night people (owls) (animals, genius!). The key here is that you can’t turn an owl into a lark, no matter how hard you try, and vice versa.

The first step is knowing what you are, and some people are more strongly owls or larks than others. Nick, for example, is a hardcore owl. He feels more productive at night and loves staying up late.

I used to think I was an owl too. I used to try really hard to stay up late. But for me, dark skies and dim lights make me sleepy (and grumpy if I’m battling sleep lol) and sunlight gives me energy.

Knowing I’m definitely not an owl is half the battle. Now, I’m trying to embrace my “lark-ness” and go to bed early to get up earlier. I’m also not trying to turn Nick into a lark even though sometimes he’ll get up early when we have places to go etc. When he DOES get up early, I appreciate it even more, because I know how hard it must be for him.

a hearty bowl of oats

3. Check one thing off your to-do list first thing in the morning

If you’re anything like me, you love crossing things off the ‘ol to-do list. Heck, I make to-do lists just to cross stuff off. Earlier today, I spent (easily) thirty minutes making a calendar for blog posts I want to write, just so I could put them into the little day boxes and cross them off when they are written. Hey, at least I know I like to do stuff like this! And if it works, why not?

Another thing that I’ve found super helpful lately, that pairs nicely with embracing mornings, is that I like going for morning walks (sometimes runs if I’m feeling particularly spunky). Even if I’m only outside for twenty minutes, it’s enough to wake me up AND I get to mark “exercise” off my mental to-do list.

Plus, I’ve been noticing I’m generally more creative when I’m walking alone, bright and early, the sun not fully risen, in my quiet neighborhood. I have more ideas. I can bask in them, let them absorb me.

If you’re going to try taking morning walks for a boost in inspiration or creativity, don’t forget to take your phone to type up any ideas you have along the way 🙂

4. Eat oatmeal

Okay, maybe I’m a little biased here, but I’ve started this habit thanks to my mom and now I just can’t seem to stop (can’t stop, won’t stop!). I eat a warm bowl of oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast.

Paired with a good night’s sleep and a brisk morning walk on a cool summer morning, a hearty bowl of oats might just be my favorite part of the whole morning routine.

Cooking the oats is actually quite meditative, too. That, and turning on a kettle to boil (for tea or coffee) also helps.

Sometimes, no matter how stressed or anxious I am about the upcoming workday or the to-do list that is piled so high or the email inbox that is just overflowing and a mess, this routine helps ground me.

And now that I know I like this routine, the key is to try to stick to it to continue having those good mornings and those happy grounded feelings.

So. In conclusion.

Let’s all promise to work on knowing ourselves a little more in an effort to be happier in our daily lives. When you find something that works for you, hold onto it. You’re onto something. Keep going with it. Follow your bliss.

What have you learned about yourself that makes you happy?

It’s my birthday and I’ll be happy if I want to