Monday, December 31, 2012

Seven gloss-free ways to be happier in 2013

In the grocery store I was drawn to my favorite glossy women's magazine, which promised advice on “ways to be happier” in the coming year. I didn't buy it. At this point I know that this magazine consists almost exclusively of lists of lists, with the same advice over and over in different permutations.

I'm pretty sure I'm just as qualified to offer advice as anyone who publishes them on glossy paper. So, here you are: my advice to myself and the three other people who might read this, looking ahead to the new year.

Muddle through. 

Deal with stuff directly, even--especially--the stuff that scares you. Have those conversations you dread or feel anxious--and don't expect yourself to do it perfectly. Too many hours of preparation can just increase your anxiety or mean that you never get around to the actual conversation! And don't expect yourself to take a sharp turn in a relationship or fix it all in that one conversation. Just take one little step to deal with what's in front of you.

Know your bottom lines and be honest, but start with questions and listening. This, I think, is the basic advice of a book recommended to me by a friend who knows some of the challenges I had this year, Difficult Conversations. I think this is the advice because I haven't gotten past the first chapter yet. But it's my advice to myself anyway, for quick prep.