Little Bits of Happiness | Scrumming our Home Lives

My husband and I are both middle children of highly intelligent and motivated parents. We are both in our early thirties and in our second (or third!) careers. We love to learn and to work, and we’re protective of our free time. In addition, we tend to over-commit ourselves. We go to meetups and groups and classes, and all of this is after our normal work day has ended. This may make us early-Millennial generation poster children, or it just may make us products of our culture and upbringings (are those the same things?).

Well before we got married, Hubs and I were already working toward common goals. We’ve always worked pretty well as a team, which is one of the reasons we work so well in our relationship. Back in our first year living together, we decided to make fitness a priority and ran a half-marathon six months later. We decided to make careers our priority, and we’ve now moved from jobs that weren’t making us entirely happy into more lucrative and fulfilling positions. And gosh-darnit, we put on a wedding. Want to test a relationship? Plan a wedding together.

So now that all the honeymoon stars in our eyes are clearing, and we’re actually planning on taking a honeymoon, we’ve started a Honey-do list. This keeps us responsible for our own tasks and gives each of us a sense of ownership over our household duties. And, we’re using the Kanban technique and Trello app I referenced in my earlier Little Bits of Happiness post.

Here’s a screenshot of our Honey-do board on Trello. This is what we use to track the household chores we need to do, what we are doing, what is blocked, and how we celebrate what has been done! We pull from the “Parking Lot” on our Monday night meeting. We have a full week to get through all that week’s tasks (or not) and then we celebrate and discuss our issues on the next Monday night meeting.

It’s been working pretty well! I have not done the worms (harvested the worm compost) or cleaned the floors this week (I also need to charge my phone!), but that’s for tonight.

I also assume that once we start doing big-kid things like buying a house or procreating, that Parking Lot list will be a lot longer. For now, we’re just getting used to the idea, but the weekly meeting and the board are great motivators.

What do you to keep yourself motivated for all of that extra stuff?

A Moment for Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a big trend amongst the happiness gurus lately, and for good reason. Our lives have become so busy that we tend to multi-task everything. We drive while talking on the phone, email while composing tweets, watch TV while checking our Pinterest and Facebook and watching the kids and helping with homework and cooking dinner. All of this doesn’t make us stronger, but in fact drains attention away from each task.

Add in the constant narration of anxiety and worry that some of us have running through our heads, and there’s hardly any rational space left. This can lead to those spiraling negative thoughts while cleaning the pots and pans (one of my personal traps), vacuuming the floors or mowing the lawn. I find that my brain goes out of control when I perform a repetitive task that involves silence or white noise.

In order to combat this brain-drain, we have to train ourselves to concentrate on a single task or thought. On-the-mat meditation helps, but the practice of mindfulness in situ is also useful.

Mindfulness is simply the awareness of your current task to the exclusion of all others.

One easy mindfulness exercise is to practice mindful walking. This can be done just standing up from your desk to go to the bathroom; you don’t need to spend a long time practicing this. Here are some directions:

1. While still sitting in your chair, put your feet flat on the floor. Feel your feet in your shoes, the shoes on the floor, your seat in the chair, your back resting in the chair.

2. Prepare to stand by placing your hands on the arms of your chair (if you have them) or the seat of the chair next to your bum. Feel the ground in the 4 corners of your feet and down through the palms of your hand. Try not to lock out your elbows, as you will need to push up out of the chair (and it’s just bad for your joints).

3. Push up to a standing position, slowly enough to feel your joints and muscles stretch. Feel your bones take your weight, move the weight of your body through your feet and balance yourself into all 4 corners of your feet. Stretch up to the ceiling if you need to now.

4. Letting your arms hang naturally by your side, pick up a foot, and begin walking. It may feel strange at first, to notice how you walk. Do you put your heel down first, or your toes? When does your back heel come up in relation to your front foot going down? How do your arms swing?

5. Don’t forget to breathe! Keep walking and feeling your feet moving. Feel how your leg bones work together with your abdominal muscles and your arms and all the muscles in your body.

As always, start slowly. You will want to only try this for a few minutes at first. But as you get better, transfer this ability to other tasks. I love to use this method while gardening, as it helps me to feel connected to the earth. When have you used mindfulness in your life?