what is in the ingredients of feeling good?

13 May 24

By Dominic Byrne

Single Parent Getting After It

Physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually – I’m the best I’ve been in > eight years!

When you’re riding a happiness wave, it’s important to reflect.

When you’re feeling good, reflecting on what led to your current buoyant state can reinforce gratitude. It allows you to appreciate the factors, events, or people that contributed to your happiness, strengthening those positive connections in your mind.

It’s not about basking in good feelings; it’s an opportunity for learning and growth. By examining why we feel good, we can identify the patterns and behaviours that led to the new and improved state. This self-awareness can help us validate and replicate those positive experiences in the future and learn from them.

dominic byrne reflection blog post

Reflection allows us to savour the positive experiences we’ve achieved. When we’re feeling perfect, taking the time to reflect on those feelings can prolong and deepen our enjoyment of them. It’s a way of fully appreciating and internalising the joy we’re experiencing.

Looking in the review mirror might also help regulate emotions. There are natural organic moments/periods/times of happiness and contentment in our lives and periods of happiness that are earned or, perhaps, ensued. This can provide comfort and perspective during difficult moments (for there will be a few), helping to maintain emotional balance.

Imagine your life as a tapestry, with each thread representing a different aspect of your well-being. These threads create a vibrant and harmonious feeling of elevated happiness when woven together. Pondering why I feel good and thinking about all the new ingredients that are cooked up in my wellness-happy-pie, looks something like this:

Break up of all the primary ingredients making me feel good

They are not clean-cut slices, just estimates, as wellness is a multidimensional concept encompassing various aspects of an individual’s life and overall well-being. These are snapshots of the parts of my wellness that, in reflection, have pushed me up the happiness chart.

Healthy Relationships (4%) form the intricate patterns within your tapestry, providing support, love, and connection. Nurturing meaningful connections with the right people fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. I have put effort into this from a work and social perspective, and it’s helped.

Sleep (5%) is the foundation upon which your tapestry is woven. Quality restorative sleep enhances mood, cognitive function, and physical health. It rejuvenates your body and mind, preparing you to face each day with vitality and resilience. I’ve always been a good sleeper, but after pausing alcohol consumption, my average sleep duration per week is now less, but the quality has improved significantly. Throw in daily exercise, a relaxing herbal tea at night and a night-time magnesium supplement, and I’m punching out quality Z’s seven days a week and waking up to get after it.

Your Vocation/Work (5%) is the canvas upon which your tapestry unfolds. Finding purpose and satisfaction in your work adds depth and richness to your life. When your vocation aligns with your passions and values, it becomes a source of fulfilment and joy, elevating your happiness. I have always enjoyed my work in the technology and web industry, it may not be my Ikigai (生き甲斐, a reason for being), but my positive occupational wellness is contributing positively to my overall well-being. I have found satisfaction and balance in my work life while maintaining personal and professional growth. I set some solid financial goals in the 23/24 fiscal year, and currently being on track with a couple of months to go is rewarding.

Work is your direct connection to financial wellness; the spin-off is managing your finances responsibly.  For the most part, I am pretty frugal, but my budgeting and saving could improve. Since Lou passed away, I have spent more than I earned yearly. I am getting close to finally turning this around.

Exercise And Movement (10%) are the dynamic force that brings life to your tapestry. Regular exercise strengthens your body, sharpens your mind, and boosts your mood by releasing endorphins. It fosters a sense of well-being and vitality, elevating your overall happiness. My body feels the best it has felt in eight to 10 years. For me, maintaining a healthy body is such a critical fundamental aspect of my well-being. I have worked extremely hard on rehabilitating my injuries and building a more substantial base to expand on with a list of physical activities to work through as big goals. Regular Pilates, stretching most days, foam-roller-self-torture, a natural inflammatory cream that works, and setting tough physical challenges that get me moving daily are some of the most significant factors to my wellness. Revolutionary perhaps.

physical wellness byrne jogging | blog

Mindfulness (10%) is the art of being present in the moment, like carefully tending to each thread in your tapestry. Practising mindfulness cultivates awareness, reduces stress, and fosters a deeper appreciation for life’s experiences, enriching your happiness and fulfilment. Spiritual wellness is part of this and doesn’t necessarily have to be related to religious beliefs (as I am as atheist as they come). It involves seeking purpose and meaning in life, developing a sense of inner peace, and aligning your actions with your values and beliefs. My mind is super busy, and I’m not so good (yet) at meditating, so I do a breathing session (normally Wim Hof) most days. I achieve a better reset and brain rest from a 15-20 minute morning breathing routine. I consider any other focused activity part of my mindfulness routine, even if it’s highly active. If the activity gets your undivided attention, e.g., motocross, balancing, foot juggling, or any new challenging sport, it is mindfulness to me.

Introducing New Healthy Habits (14%)  is like adding vibrant threads to your tapestry, infusing it with fresh energy and vitality. Whether starting a new hobby, learning a skill, or adopting a wellness practice, these habits enrich your life and contribute to elevated happiness. Dropping bad habits is just as important. The following habits have been life-changing;

  • Reducing social media browsing, news consumption and entrainment streaming by >90%
  • Learning new sports/physical challenges every week
  • Cutting sugar starch, processed foods from my diet
  • Having documented goals and a daily intention
  • Reading and learning every day
  • Journaling – putting my day up for review
  • Waking up super early and making the first hour of my morning my rudder for the day

A Positive Mindset (14%)  serves as the frame that holds your tapestry together, providing structure and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Cultivating optimism, gratitude, and self-compassion fosters a resilient outlook, allowing you to navigate adversity with grace and maintain a sense of happiness despite life’s ups and downs.

Emotional wellness involves understanding and managing your emotions effectively. It includes self-awareness, self-acceptance, stress management, resilience, and emotional intelligence.

Mental wellness focuses on cognitive well-being and the health of your mind. It includes positive thinking, problem-solving, creativity, learning, and maintaining a sound mental state.

Intellectual wellness focuses on continuous learning, critical thinking, and mental engagement. It encourages seeking new experiences and challenges to expand your knowledge and skills.

The most significant impact on my positive mindset has been becoming a student of philosophy, mainly Stoicism. Explained as briefly as I could in this post, everything that happens to us in life is an opportunity to respond with what the philosophy calls Virtue (Courage, Justice, Temperance, and Wisdom). You can only control your character, your actions, and your reactions. Every encounter with the world and its people is an opportunity to be your best self.

Marcus Aurelius has become my role model as his wisdom was deeply influenced by Stoic philosophy, which emphasised his development of self-control, resilience, and inner peace. His frame of mind offers timeless wisdom on how to navigate life’s challenges with poise and virtue. Despite holding the most powerful position in the Roman Empire, Aurelius remained humble and committed to the principles of virtue. He saw himself as a servant of the people rather than a ruler entitled to privilege and luxury. Aurelius faced numerous challenges during his reign, including wars, political unrest, and personal tragedies (so so many). Despite these difficulties, he remained steadfast in his commitment to duty and virtue, demonstrating resilience in adversity. Aurelius was known for his integrity and moral character, exemplifying courage, justice, temperance and wisdom in all he did. He governed with a sense of duty and conscience, prioritising the well-being of his subjects above his interests. Marcus practised self-reflection and mindfulness as central tenets of Stoic philosophy; he committed to introspection and self-improvement. He was the real deal, the GOAT. As Noah would say, “he’s him.”

Diet And Nutrition (14%), just like the right colours can enhance a tapestry, proper nutrition provides the building blocks for a healthy body and mind. Eating nutritious foods fuels your energy levels, supports cognitive function, and promotes overall well-being. I have gone hard at this since July last year; the changes in my body, mind and soul are ridiculous. Preparing much more food myself, eating the rainbow (colours of fruit and veg) daily, taking supplements for the first time, drinking green tea every single morning, not overeating, extending the time between dinner and breakfast and educating myself on food as medicine is helping me win the day.

Cutting Booze!!!! (24%), alcohol disrupted the delicate balance of my tapestry by affecting my mood, sleep, work, exercise, mind and overall health, as I had no temperance with it whatsoever. It made me less of a parent. Each time I drank, it stole happiness from the next day. By abstaining from alcohol, I have maintained clearer thinking, better sleep, and much improved physical health; I am a significantly better parent and better person, all of which have contributed and allowed me to get the most out of all the other pieces of the pie.

Every individual has ingredients that make them feel good; what they decide to put in their happy pie is exclusive. In saying that, though, if anyone wasn’t sure what they needed to elevate their happiness baseline, I could guarantee you right now that if you put considered, consistent effort into the same pieces (quantities of each are up to you), then the improvements in your mental health—mind, body, and soul—would be so noticeable you would need industrial-style scales to measure it.

I’ve been playing around with the quantities to find the perfect mix, an ever-evolving life centrepiece. Above, all dimensions are interrelated and bleed into each other. Overall wellness is a holistic concept that considers the balance and integration of these different aspects in my life. Each element is intertwined, working in concert to create a tapestry of happiness more significant than the sum of its parts. You cultivate a rich, vibrant life woven with joy, meaning, and fulfilment by nurturing each thread.

It all forms a sticky snowball packed together, gaining momentum.

Dominic Byrne on the water storage tap in Pilliga

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts; it’s hard work, but the work is good.

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