Can you believe it'll be 2018 soon? I can't even imagine writing the numbers down: 2018.
2017 has been a calmer, more settled year for me. Happiness, I realise, isn't always the result of massive changes - instead, small things, habits or actions can improve your life a whole lot. Here are the things that have made me a happier person in 2017:
1. Bullet journal
I don't track my water intake. I don't record the weather. I don't doodle works of art in my notebook. My "bujo" is just a collection of to-do lists, really, but it calms me down, keeps me organised and de-stresses me like nothing else can. What's a bullet journal? Basically, it's turning a plain notebook into a kick ass planner. How? Well, Ryder Carroll, the creator of this system, came up with this great video, and it's all you need as a guide, really. Still, there are a bajilion demonstrations to tweak, pretty up and hack the bujo for your needs.
2. Commonplace book
Ie, notes on books I've read. I keep mine digitally on this blog, on Goodreads and in my bullet journal. It helps me remember what I learned from books. Again, it makes me zen.
3. Intermittent fasting
Lost 17kg. Now I know how to prevent weight gain. Finally. Finally, I understand how to manage my weight. Not worrying and stressing over explosive weight gain is very reassuring.
4. Chinese dramas
Stories make me come alive. Telling them, writing about them, watching them. It's been a joy to rediscover the worlds of wuxia and xian xia dramas. Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms was the standout drama for me this year, and Nirvana in Fire was a revelation.
5. Hanging out with friends
I got to know so many people through a fantastic book club, the KL Book Appreciation Club. I swapped and sold my books, attended parties and eventually became fast friends with a number of people. What I loved about it is that they all come from diverse backgrounds; if not for the love of books, I wouldn't have met these folks! I also make a point to have coffee/watch movies with as many people as I can - especially those nearest and dearest to my heart.
A lot. Like a whole lot more. Like, about 153 books. Right before bed, and right after my eyes open in the morning. I chose to read only books I loved (mmm, lots of romances!) and DNFed those that I didn't enjoy without guilt. Still, I am going to slow down my reading next year because I'd like to savour my books more.
7. Being aware that the mind lies
Your lizard brain will lie to you to protect you. It wants to keep you safe - even something as intangible and ephemeral as your ego. I try not to take the stories my mind tells me seriously. I thank it for its input and move on. So, when the going gets tough, I don't indulge in self-pity. I acknowledge that life is hard at the moment, but I'll survive. And think about something else.
8. Chromecast is my life
Each time I swipe 0n the Netflix, iFlix, dimsum, Viki, Youtube* apps and have a TV drama or movie cast on my flatscreen TV, it feels like magic. I love, love, love streaming TV channels, and I love how it appeals to my minimalist heart. I no longer have to buy and hoard DVDs just to watch something anymore.
*Do I really have all these TV streaming apps on my phone? Yes.
This is what I think: A grateful attitude is like a muscle. You have to keep flexing it to make it stronger. Now, each time I get depressed about something, I remind myself how good I have it compared to so many people in the world, and that despite how bad things are, there are still things to be grateful for.
10. Recovering my health
At the start of 2017, my health was a mess. I literally couldn't digest a lot of things. So much so that I became afraid of eating; I dreaded what a bite of pasta would do to me. Would that piece of bread make me double over in pain? In the end, I had to do a bit of detective work. It took a while, but after tracking my symptoms, tweaking the way I eat, taking some Chinese herbs (ancient wisdom works, I tell you) I'm much, much better. I cannot tell you how happy I am of being able to eat that piece of cake without convulsing in pain a few bites later. Health is indeed wealth!