Are you the one in your house that does everything?
From grocery shopping to booking holidays to the buying of birthday presents (even for your in-laws)? Then it’s time to resign from the position of “Mistress of the Universe”.
And if your cries for help have fallen on deaf ears, happiness expert Paul McGee suggests having an honest conversation.
“Most partners don’t help out due to habit or ignorance,” he says.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 10 steps to take to get the most out of your partner, and get the most out of life.
1. Set aside time to talk
Rather than wearing your partner down with little digs and daily reminders about loading the dishwasher or doing the vacuuming, set aside a time to have a bigger conversation.
Tell them why these jobs matter to you, and spell out the advantages to them of helping.
2. Tell them how you feel
Feeling upset about something your partner said? You may not want to ‘make a fuss’ out of it, but McGee says that could backfire in the long run and lead to regret in later life.
The same goes for positive emotions. Never suppress a generous impulse – if you think your partner’s great, tell them!
3. Go out and have fun
It’s easy to spend your Saturday night binge-watching TV, but you need to ask yourself if that will make you happy. “We know going to yoga or visiting a friend will make us happy, but we stay in and watch TV because it’s easier,” says McGee.
Make time to see your friends and get out and consciously choose to do things that will make you happy.
4. Make a list of your blessings
It’s easy to feel like a Debbie Downer, especially when you have a lot on your plate. So every night, before you go to bed, McGee recommends that you note three things that went well that day.
Read over your list the first thing the next day to put you in a good mood.
5. Put things in perspective
The next time something in your life or marriage goes wrong, try reframing and looking at the bigger picture. Say your train was cancelled, you forgot your season ticket and then, when you finally left the station, the skies opened and you didn’t have an umbrella.
You need to step back and remember the phrase “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Whatever happens to you, it’s not the end of the world, and it will pass.
6. Don’t take things too personally
Criticism is part of life. “If you want to achieve anything in life, there’s a good chance you’ll acquire critics along the way,” says McGee. You need to roll with the punches and make sure you don’t waste your precious energy worrying about what others think of you.
7. Savour the small moments
Mindfulness and being present can really boost your mood and silence those niggling worries. Next time you’re waiting for a bus, rather than reaching for your phone to “kill” time, savour the moment and really notice your surroundings.
8. Worry less
Our brains are programmed to worry. It’s been that way since our days in the cave, where we evolved to anticipate sabretooth tigers. But most “threats” we worry about now aren’t life-threatening, yet we still spend hours wondering what will happen if we don’t get that promotion.
Worry is only useful if it alerts you to potential hurdles you might face, in which case make a plan and act on it. For instance, if you worry about money, seek the help of a financial advisor.
9. Stop putting friends on a pedestal
We all do it. To compare is human, but if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate, that’s a recipe for unhappiness.
Instead, you should switch from idealising to humanising. That friend of yours with the envy-inducing house and fabulously wealthy husband might still feel insecure about her career – or lack of it. Or have worries about her sick mother. “Remind yourself that you’re only seeing part of the jigsaw and move on,” says McGee.
10. Remember your purpose
A sense of purpose gives you greater life satisfaction, according to McGee. Not only are people with a sense of purpose happiest, they also live longer, according to research at Washington University.
But how do you find your sense of purpose? Purpose can come from children, friends and even work. Ask yourself, “What do I care about? What energises me? What am I doing when I’m at my happiest?” Then do that.