Happiness Project June Resolutions: Channel Don Draper in the final shot of Mad Men

Surprisingly, this is not what I look like while meditating with my  Headspace  app.

Surprisingly, this is not what I look like while meditating with my Headspace app.

Well, it’s finally here. The beginning of the end. Life as I’ve always known it... is no more. 

No, I am not off to a Californian retreat to meditate with hippies. But, I am going to stop criticizing myself, and I can assure you that the amount of lifestyle-adjusting this is going to take will be similar in magnitude. 

While Don Draper struggled with escaping his past demons, I struggle as I approach life at a constant sprint towards the future, always making sure today won’t take up too much of my time, cause tomorrow is where the good stuff is really happening. The common denominator? Neither of us experience life in the now. Both of us know we’re unfairly withholding parts of ourselves. Both of us are self-medicating (alcohol for Don, Ben & Jerry’s for me, whatever). Neither of us are ever, ever satisfied. 

Luckily, Don Draper is a fictional character and his negligent behavior affects only other fictional characters. Un-luckily, I am not a fictional character (I know this for certain because you would all address me as Your Royal Highness if I were). My negligent behavior has not resulted in any stolen identities, ruined personal lives or tanked ad agencies, of course, but it can make me awfully cranky and uptight. 

Okay, I will drop the Mad Men schtick and try to be direct: This month I am resolving to be content with the present. To stop and smell the roses. To laugh out loud. To dance like no one is watching. To stop speaking in cliches when what I really mean is to give myself permission to be happy even though I am not yet X or Y or Z (X or Y or Z = self-imposed qualifier for happiness).  

Here’s how: 

  • No complaining

  • No criticizing (myself or others)

  • Be present

  • Meditate

  • Decide now. Do it now.

  • Focus & finish (one thing at a time)

  • Act the way you want to feel 

When I started my Happiness Project, I drafted a rough outline of what I thought I’d focus on each month - accepting that my wants may change as I progressed, but wanting some sort of shell to work from. I purposefully put this topic in December, very last. 

Why, you (my mom or husband, the main readers of this blog) may ask? Well, living in the future is sort of my thing. My whole shebang. My thought process was that if I worked on being present before December, what the heck would I have to work on for the remaining months? And to be honest, trying to change a trait that is so me it feels embedded into my DNA is scary. I enable myself to stay unreasonably future-focused out of fear that if I become too content with life as is, I’ll stop chasing my goals. 

Becoming aware of this fear leads me to another realization: I feel that halting the pursuit of my goals would be such an issue because I have built my identity around who I plan to become. And that, my friends, is a topic for another month, or for my therapist's couch. For now, let me just learn to resist planning what hobbies I’m going to pick up after retirement.