Weekly Check-In: The Rooms of Your Life

Photo credit

Ever heard of The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life’s Little Imperfections? The premise of the book is that each room in the house correlates to a different area of your life:

The bedroom for love and intimacy, the family room for grown siblings and parents, the bathroom for body image, health, and vanity, the living room for friends, the office for bills, career and so on.”

I always think of this analogy when I assess my life because it helps ensure that you don’t leave out one critical area!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed {or to prevent feeling overwhelmed} I do a check-in of each “room” of my life.

Financials: Are all my bills paid? Did I stick to my budget this week? Could I cut out any expenses next week?

Health: Do I feel like I exercised enough? Did I infuse exercise into my daily actions? Did I eat healthy, fresh foods? What do I regret eating {usually gluten!} that I can work on next week? Did I get enough sleep?

Relationships: Have I maintained a good balance of my relationships? Have I made an effort to keep in touch with friends and family in other cities? Have I done so even if things are going well for me {I find it’s easier to remember to contact friends when you need support!}? Do I have any interpersonal issues I need to address? Did I apologized when I needed to? Did I make an effort to make new friends or strengthen current friendships? Did I do kind things for friends and family?

Career: Did I put in the necessary hours this week? What did I excel at? What could I have done better? What advice, tips, and feedback can I take in to improve my performance? Did I ask for or take feedback?

Mental health: How do I feel emotionally? How can I maintain or improve my mood? Are things at home organized and clean? Have I pampered myself {painted nails, hair cut, etc}?

Intellectual health: Did I challenge myself intellectually through absorbing new information? Did I stay up-to-date on current events? Did I pursue interests outside of work?

Community: Was I proud of who I was this week? Did I make an effort to brighten the days of people around me with small gestures? Did I make the community better {by volunteering or otherwise?}? Did I take advantage of the city?

P.S. My blog posts have been a bit heavy lately. I’m doing great and having plenty of fun, but thinking a lot about self-improvement and personal growth. I’m not sure the exact catalyst for this, but hopefully these posts help you if you’re experiencing similar sentiments!

The Fine Line Between Sharing and Gossiping

Have you ever said something negative to a friend or significant other about someone else under the guise of “venting” or “sharing”? I obviously never have, but here are my thoughts 😉

There’s a fine line between sharing and gossiping, but let’s address gossip first: some people will tell you it’s a wholly negative thing but I don’t completely agree. We actually derive some benefits from sharing and gossiping:

1) It makes us feel closer to the person we’re speaking with. Like it or not, gossiping is a form of bonding and provides us with shared experiences.

2) It provides us with an outlet for venting and can validate our feelings by allowing us to see that others feel the same way.

3) It can provide an escape from a situation or relationship. For example, say you and a friend hang out with a third person regularly because you both think the other enjoys the third person’s company. Sharing might make you both discover that neither of you enjoys this person’s company, so you can both cut ties.

None of this is to say that gossip is all good. It can hurt the person you’re discussing; it can harm your other relationships if people consider you a gossip; and it can make you feel guilty.

So where’s the line between sharing and gossip? Clearly, I love finding the fine lines between things. When does it move from being a productive, meaningful activity to being careless or even mean-spirited?

My lifelong difficulty is that I have no filter. I say what I think around people I’m comfortable because I don’t believe in boundaries {which is a topic for another blog post though here’s one on blogging boundaries}. But every so often, I cringe a little inside after I carelessly let a snippet of gossip emerge in front of someone I’m close to…self-improvement time 🙂

Where is the line between sharing and gossiping? What are other benefits and consequences of the two? Which is more important: your motive or the outcome? 

P.S. Apparently a study showed that volunteers’ heartbeats increased when the people witnessed negative behaviors by others but leveled out when the person was able to tell someone about the incident. Psychosocial benefits of gossip, y’all!

P.P.S. There is some validity in this:

photo credit i, photo credit ii

on improving relationships

Since adding Tiny Buddha to my Google Reader, I think I’ve starred about 75% of the posts so that I could remember to come back to them! I always find their daily reminders relevant, insightful, and memorable.

Buddha…with shades!

A recent article really caught my eye though: The Relationships We Wish We Could Improve. I’m willing to wager that most of you have felt like you wanted to improve a current relationship but felt at a loss for how to do it.

This is one of those articles where I want to copy and paste the whole thing, but I’ll just provide you with a few of the points and quotes that stood out to me :

“Years ago, a therapist told me we can’t ever change other people; we can only change how we respond to them.” 

“But what do we do when we respond more calmly, or try to see things differently, but we still find ourselves getting hurt?”

“I’ve learned that changing our response to people means changing how we engage with them.”

“… it’s our job to recognize that so we don’t continually cause ourselves stress by trying to smash a square peg into a round hole.”

“…we change when we realize what we might lose if we don’t, and recognize that the discomfort of doing things differently is better than the pain of that loss.”

“We can’t make someone else make an effort. But we can make smart decisions for our own well-being. This may inspire someone else to change; it might not. Either way, we’ve honored the most important relationship in our lives: the one we have with ourselves.”

But the quote that stood out to me the most:

“It might mean refusing to feel guilty or defensive, taking things less personally, or modeling the type of behavior we’d like to see in them.”

I have a really hard time not feeling guilty even if I know or feel that I’m in the right. This guilt often prevents me from making rational decisions or standing my ground, so this point really spoke to me. I also often take things personally, even if I know it’s not about me. Lastly, I love the suggestion of modeling behavior that we would like to see- reminds me of the Golden Rule. I think it’s important to find the fine line between being kind and having a backbone, though.

Did this article speak to anyone else? What other techniques do you use for managing and improving relationships? 

keepin’ it accountable

Yesterday I ate lunch at Sitti with a coworker from The Raleigh Forum and one of our Raleigh friends. The food was delicious (albeit more than I normally pay for lunch) and we had fantastic service. I tweeted the restaurant as we were crossing the street and by the time we had sat down, the manager came over and mentioned that he saw my tweet and recognized my face. He then brought us some extra little treats (Feta Cheese Dip and an interesting marinated hard cheese thing, which I couldn’t find on the menu!). I will definitely go back as soon as possible. Follow them on Twitter to help them reach their goal of 1000 followers!

Anyway, my lunchmates and I got to talking about some of our personal flaws and bad habits and ended up deciding to give each other week-long self-improvement challenges. $10 is on the line, and we’re adhering to the Honor System.

Me: Write up 3 things every day that I’m grateful for (Though I love and appreciate my life, I have a tendency to take things for granted sometimes). I also have to ride my bike to work at least 2 times during the week (it currently sits in the bike rack at my apartment. I want to ride it more often for health and environmental reasons, not to mention as a way to save money on gas!)

Friend #1: He’s the reason we started this challenge. He mentioned in passing that he doesn’t wear his seat belt, which prompted shocked looks and a barrage of questions from me and Friend #2. For the whole week, he has to wear his seat belt every time that he’s in a moving car.

Friend #2: He finds himself eating out most days of the week, so his challenge is to bring his lunch to work all week. I offered to help by setting up a menu plan and sending him recipes! We also decided to have a mini-pot luck one day next week!

Wish me luck!

10 day you challenge

I just came across this image on From Raleighwood to Hollywood, the blog of Fanny, a girl who spontaneously made up a song for me at a bar on my 21st birthday, even though we had never met. She picked up her whole life and moved from Raleigh to Hollywood at the age of 25, which I think is very admirable and courageous. Follow her adventures!

Anyway, I figured since I was doing a limited gluten challenge, I’d add another on top of it! And last night, my friend challenged me to go one week without apologizing (I have a tendency to overapologize), so maybe that’s my next feat to tackle 🙂

An observation

When I had 100 hits on the GW Bites website, I was psyched. When I got 1000 hits, I was beyond thrilled. But when the hits dropped below 1000 per day, I was suddenly frustrated- why couldn’t I reach 1000 again?!

I realized this tendency  in other areas of my life too: I raise my expectations and can’t settle for less. I also saw the same pattern in my sister’s thinking.

I suppose these heightened expectations are beneficial in that they keep us both striving to be better, more productive, more successful. But they can also leave us annoyed and feeling inadequate.

Here’s another example: If I was a B student, an A in a class would be awesome! But since I’m an A student, not only is an A not exciting, but a B would be detrimental.

I’m not saying we should strive for inadequacy just to feel better about ourselves, but I do think it’s important to recognize this tendency and acknowledge that we can’t always do better than we did the day before. Sometimes my website hits are out of my control.

And those are Cristina’s thoughts of the day!