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Performance Related Happiness. Sunday April 10, 2016

I've been aware for many years that there's a direct link between whether I have accomplished something and my moods.

The thought of tackling not just one 'to do' mountain, but several, (usually clothes and paper) all hangs over me like a too heavy, scruffy old coat. I feel guilty and unsettled, unable to shift nagging thoughts that there are 'so many huge things I need to tackle.' My scores dip below what's 'ok for me.'

Moodscopers have provided little nuggets of gold. Asking for help, though I often don't. Being more gentle with myself or just making a start on one thing. I know that it'll happen. I won't be able to ignore the mountains any longer!

The most productive times can be unplanned, "I'm just passing, not really going to stop to get stuck into this right now...". Before going away on holiday, "I want it to be nice/clear for when I get back".

The dreaded "By the way mum, someone's coming over" from the children (picture a blue arsed fly chasing a headless chicken around panic stations). Or even worse, after the horse has bolted, "That was embarrassing. I'll just put those away...".

Often I'll moan about it for ages, wait 'till I have time, procrastinate for a bit, then on a good day, I make a start. Sometimes that's all it is, a start, but the ball has been shifted.

Sometimes though, the action leads to more action - takes off and the momentum keeps me going, "Can't stop, I'm on a roll!" Waving merrily to passers by.

I'm now wary of those. I start to feel my back aching, I'm looking at socks and losing the will to wear any ever again. But I press on, push myself further than I know is good for any of us, "What's for dinner mum?" (owls hooting in the distance). They're 17 and 22!

I wring myself dry, "Make the most of this burst of energy while it lasts 'cos who knows when I'll get going again?". Or grim determination, "I've started so I'll finish".

This morning, it was lovely having breakfast cooked by a teenager on a clear dining table. I'd blitzed that one room enough for one afternoon and stopped.

Next, the spare room. The very costly computer may actually be in use for revision! Well that's what they call social networking these days I think.

Happy days, my score today just above what's ok for me. A good feeling, not too high and it's something I DO have some control over.

Why then do I get this monkey chatter that something's not quite right? Surely my happiness shouldn't rely on my performance? Yes I've been conditioned to feel good about 'being good', but is that what's going on? Am I just Pavlov's dog in a dress? Or am I simply happy to have something that I wanted come to fruition?

Does anyone else recognise Performance Related Happiness?

Lillipet :)
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Leah Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:11am

Your thoughtful blog is on a topic I have thought about before.
When I opened my shop ten years ago, I was not goi9ng to be happy when I had a good sales day so I would not be sad when I had a low sales day.
Of course I was never happy so that was not a good idea!
I decided to focus on a small thing, like a friendly customer, a kind comments, a lizard sunning itself outside. I was not fixed on what I took.
You are proud of what you have done and as you describe it, it is as much about the process as the end result. Take care .

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:14am

Hi Leah, that's a good way of shifting the focus, no pressure and much more gentle! Thank you :) LP xx

Sophie Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 10:56am

Thank you both! I must try to remember this! I identify with what you both say. The words Performance Limited Happiness floated through my my mind... I like reading articles I find on Pinterest about decluttering and tidying. You sometimes pick up gems. Also, if you ask everyone to thin out their wardrobe (lots of videos about doing this on YouTube), the piles can't get so big. I did this and it really helped. Have a great Sunday! X

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:01pm

Perfect Sophie, will check youtube! I really need to tackle my piles! ;)) I'll switch the phrase Performance Related Happiness that I've attached to myself, to P Limited H, as it's a great way to remind myself how I'm limiting my happiness and wellbeing when I do it! Thank you! LP xx

Hopeful One Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:04am

Hi Lillypet- thanks for highlighting this link in our minds between our performance and happiness . We are happy when we accomplish something and unhappy when we do not. The major problem is to 'get going' . I am a great list maker so there is always something I can accomplish however small. The trick here is to just start , take that first step, and then I congratulate myself that now I am one step further forward then before. As I have said before on these pages " action leads to motivation not the other way round", counterintuitive I know but believe me it's true. Then I focus on the journey and less on the outcome." We are the masters of our effort not of the fruit" wrote the Nobel prize winning Bengladesi poet Rabindranath Tagore and I agree with him entirely. If I accomplish what I set out to do I congratulate myself again on " mission completed " and enjoy the glow for a while. I have discovered that the reward of doing anything is having done it in the first place resulting in a happy outcome for me.

The Joke Squadron was out early this morning and found this on its sortie.

An Irishman walks into a pub. The bartender asks him, "what'll you have?" The man says, "Give me three pints of Guinness please." So the bartender brings him three pints and the man proceeds to alternately sip one, then the other, then the third until they're gone. He then orders three more. The bartender says, "Sir, I know you like them cold. You don't have to order three at a time. I can keep an eye on it and when you get low I'll bring you a fresh cold one." The man says, "You don't understand. I have two brothers, one in Australia and one in the States. We made a vow to each other that every Saturday night we'd still drink together. So right now, my brothers have three Guinness Stouts too, and we're drinking together. The bartender thought that was a wonderful tradition. Every week the man came in and ordered three beers. Then one week he came in and ordered only two. He drank them and then ordered two more. The bartender said to him, "I know what your tradition is, and I'd just like to say that I'm sorry that one of your brothers died." The man said, "Oh, me brothers are fine - I have just quit drinking."

Lou Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:31am

Today's joke really made me laugh. Thank you! :)

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:29am

LOL! Me too! :)) ( hope none Irish takes offense) Thanks H, yes it's the getting started that's tha hardest, so that's the bit I could feel happiest about. LP:)

Frankie Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:59am

Me and darling hubby too, out loud! Thank-you Hopeful One. Frankie

Anonymous Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 11:51am

Cool Hopeful! Jul x

Norman Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 5:44pm

A tourist goes into a pub in the West of Ireland one morning. The landlord says "sorry I can't serve you until 10:30!" The tourist looks at the clock saying 10:20 and says "It's ok I'll wait ten minutes." The landlord says "No problem, would you like a drink while you're waiting?"

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:40pm

LOL! I love those tourist jokes Norm! :)

Anonymous Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:46pm

LOL! Julxx

Hopeful One Mon, Apr 11th 2016 @ 8:15am

Hi Norman- one word- fantastic!

Lou Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:50am


Your blog very much struck a chord. I am very good at writing lists (often unrealistically long) and then beating myself up when I don't achieve everything I have decided I need to get done, or feel I should have done. I am terrible for once I get going being unable to stop & for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome this is A Very Bad Thing. I am still working on learning how to write shorter lists...

Thanks for sharing,


LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:44am

Hi Lou, I hear you! Maybe a master list, then a mini list for the day, (even if sometimes, as HO says, it's to make a start on one thing!). A Very Bad Thing, reminded of the Winnie the Poo tales :) I need to work on writing shorter everything! :) LP xx

Frankie Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 10:09am

Me too Lou - I have come to the conclusion that if I accept the list as a tool which helps me to get started, then it doesn't matter if I don't get everything ticked off. At least some things get ticked off. The idea of a list that is never completed has been surprisingly liberating and motivating. Also, on bad days, I make a list of what I have done, however small; e.g. got up/showered/ate/did washing up/checked emails etc. This helps me to chose something small to do so I can add it to the list, then tick it off! Kidology maybe, but it works for me. Also, Hopeful One's affirmation "Action leads to motivation" is hugely helpful (thank-you again Hopeful One!) Frankie

Mary Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:44pm

My husband is one of the most well balanced men I know (he has to be - married to me). He says if he gets a third of his list done then it's a good day!

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:44pm

That's always good to hear! :)

Lou Mon, Apr 11th 2016 @ 8:24am

These are some great responses and ideas. Thanks very much folks :)

Zareen Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:36am

Thanks for your blog! I can echo your experience fully and your thoughts about performance related happiness! I reckon it may be a cultural determined attitude?

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 12:59pm

Hi Zareen, yes that's probably a part of it, strict parenting from anywhere drills high expectations and time relaxing or enjoying oneself seen as time wasted! Happiness not even considered important! Perhaps more so with people who were immigrants in the 60's who experienced any racism. They may have felt that they and their children had to work harfer to prove themselves perhaps? LP xx

Anonymous Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:45am

Good morning Lillypet. For me it's a question of control. If I accomplish something around the house for example I feel in control. I cannot control my moods/ depression/insomnia. at least not to the extent I would like to but I can control how tidy the house is or how artistic something looks on the walls or the interior decor in general. When I am relaxed, I don't care so much, so I guess happiness comes in strange ways when one feels low. I never thought pre depresssion that keeping the house looking nice would make me feel better!!
I do enjoy reading your thoughts Lilly and am with you on the work front. I am glad to read that things are better for you now at work. Julx

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:48pm

Thanks Jul, It'll take a great deal of strength and belief in myself to sustain the progress I've made. All quiet on the western front for now. The real test will be if challenged in a way that I perceive to be unfairly, perhaps over a period of time, whether I allow resentment to build up, or whether I simply say what needs to be said and let the rest go. I will have taken a huge step forward if a whole year goes by without conflict, ie to January '17. Maybe we can support each other to stay strong. LP xx

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:52pm

Re control, I don't have that cleaning and tidying control thing but know of others that do. It's funny that the grass is often greener, they often saycthey wish they were more like me! I don't like my chaotic and cluttered ways and wouldn't mind a bit of OCD in that respect! But I totally get that it's stress induced and no lighthearted matter. Xx

Eva Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:52am

Hi LP, my problem is stopping. Going on too long just as you describe. I have twice had to leave a job/ shift the boundaries due to workaholism. Currently I am trying an enforced rest period as my friends are worried that if I don't I may become seriously ill.

I think it stems back to trying to prove that I was worthwhile to my dad whom didn't live with us and with whom relations were strained, and I thought maybe I could do that through hard work. It's not so much the results for me it's the hours along the way, the graft. It's great in a way as I do achieve, but my focus is such that I lose sight of balance sometimes (although I do really try to build that in these days). Also I tend to throw everything I have at my project which means when I get knocked by several unexpected challenges / events there isn't enough resource left to continue in a healthy fashion which is were I find myself currently having recently lost dad and FIL. In general in more normal times, I have rules about length of working days and routines for balance and mindfulness borne out of my past experiences . Currently though out of synch I feel a wee bit lost. Very topical for me, thanks LP.

Frankie Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 10:14am

I can relate to this Eva; the trying to live up to my father's standards. Once I realised that doing things his way was fine for him, but not for me, life became a lot easier! It was about giving myself permission to act as an adult, and do things my way, rather than respond like a child by doing things his way. Writing a letter to him (after his death) thanking him for all he had taught me, and explaining that I now intended to do things my way, was a hugely empowering step. It did take a long time to reach that stage though! Very best of luck Eva; Frankie

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:14pm

Hi Eva, That makes perfect sense and Frankie's reply does too. I often find that I function pretty well as long as everything is going as expected. I'm sorry about your dad and hope that you find a way to process your grief and healing in a more healthy way, it's so easy to slip into our comfort zones (unhealthy coping stragegies). This opportunity to do things differently would be a lovely way to cherish your father, if that's what you'd want to do. I didn't get FIL. I'm so glad that you've found ways to manage on a day to day basis, so you can build on that. Much love. Xx

Angela Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:16am

This blog really struck a chord in me LP, thank you!

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:16pm

That's good to hear Angela, I worried that people might wonder why I'd think that they'd be interested in my to do lists! So glad people get how down it can get us. Xx

Frankie Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 10:45am

Yes, yes, yes LillyPet! Definitely! A while back, Alex posted about Tiny Habits (thank-you Alex!) in relation to a blog on procrastination. There is an excellent free summary at I know from experience that this concept works; making tiny changes in behaviour (which is easy) leads to that behaviour becoming automatic - and so bit by bit, piece by piece, we can gradually adopt new behaviours e.g. I never used to pack my work bag until the morning - and as I am not a morning person this invariably meant that mornings were stressful and I was arriving late at work. Now I pack my bag the night before - without even thinking about it - it has become an automatic behaviour. I now arrive in good time at work and much more relaxed and in control. Your blog and this phrase "Performance related happiness" are fascinating LillyPet - thank-you. We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS - yet we act like human "doings". In order to quieten the internal, never-ending, criticizing running commentary, I use affirmations (e.g. I am doing the best I can, with today's energy levels) This helps me be more accepting of where I am at energy-wise, and more realistic about what I can achieve. Sorry, this reply might seem irrelevant, but it's not for me! Frankie

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:23pm

Frankies, it's totally relevant. I'll look up Tiny Habits, and can implement the basics as you've described right away. I've got the work bag locked down, adjusted breakfast, but what to wear needs to be a night before dilemma! Than you! :) LP xx

The Gardener Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 2:49pm

Aalways want everything perfect - as lot of life lived in building site (7 old houses) and on farm (mud and dogs) impossible dream. Kitchen myst be nice, or cant work in it. When our garden was 'open to the public' it was impeccable every Tuesday night, really nice to live in.

The Gardener Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 2:54pm

House 'open' for patrimony week-end another matter. Embarrassing things kicked under cupboards. People being instructed on 18th C wood pannelling were always poking about in family knick-knacks and photos. And althoug parquet polished sun always caught a streak of missed dust. Fancy being Chatsworth

The Gardener Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 2:57pm

Frankie, my ma-in-law was one who rubbed her finger along ledges - nothing I did was right, children scruffy, badly bought up, husband not fed enough, I wore tarty clothes and too much make up - there was a draught from the bedroom window (that house did not even have windows, vandals had shot them all out, or threw stones). Tramps left lice, wow

The Gardener Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 3:02pm

Computer only allows 6 lines, then shuts down. M-in-law's window had windows rushed in, rest of us had plastic. Doors kicked in as well,no loos or electricity for first 3 days - 5 children - then, like now, had to go back to old house for a bath!

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:33pm

Hi TG, Yes, on a much smaller scale, I can identify with feeling mortified if I feel that I might be judged on the appearance of my home. It's not really awful, but not to the standards that other people seem to manage. But as some of those people often say, with that comes pain too. Your life has been rich, full of life and fun and your experiences alway sound amazing! :) Hope you are ok. LP xx

John Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 4:08pm

Thanks Lillipet for this post. If it wasn't for the thrill, excitement, and enjoyment of doing something well the human world would be a sorry place with no art, music, dance, or sports. The way star performers in any field work their way there is from some positive feelings of accomplishment they have as they put in the tedious hours of practice and test their gains with minor performances.
¶ I re-read Zen and the Art of Archery last year. There's the eventual scene where the student genuinely allowed the arrow to let fly without willing it. The master bowed, said that was the way it's done. The student let out a howl of delight.
¶ And then the master did something I found very insightful, he stopped the lesson for that day!
¶ I take from this story the insight that after a long and difficult challenge to get something right, when you do, celebrate and leave off so as to end at the right place and lock the success in memory.
¶ Thus, rather than thinking either/or and not knowing who coined "human beings" I'd rather live as though I'm combining human being with human doing, with human loving, with human imagining with ... with ...

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:43pm

Hi John that's so true! I'm always so impressed by the kinds of performances that you've mentioned. I dont seem to have that kind of discipline or drive, though I know that I have other strengths :) I love the idea of locking success into memory. Thank you! LP :)

Mary Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:47pm

There is a thrill in a tidy house. Even though the house only stays tidy for about 2 minutes..... Funny. When I am well I don't mind a bit of clutter and dirt. When I have depression it offends me to the depth of my soul, yet I do not have the energy to tackle it!

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:47pm

Exactly Mary! I LOVE it when it's tidy! But it feels like a never ending cycle! LP xx

Sheena Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 6:58pm

Oh yes Lilliipet - I certainly can recognise this performance related exhaustion! Old age is very wonderful - somewhere along the way I realised that "If you can't please everybody - You gotta please yourself". I endeavour to do what I can achieve with a good grace. This does not mean I cannot go back to something once I have rested or eaten. It means that at last I put food, sleep, exercise for my wellbeing as a priority. Sheena :)

Susan Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:07pm

I love this post Lillipet! My housework overwhelms me these days but I was such a neat freak as a kid and right up to the kids leaving primary school. My immediate environment has always had an effect on my mental well being, so the fact that I now spend my hours at home, stupidly tired, sofa surfing has meant my home goes unloved and my depression deepens. I'm trying to fight it and focus on what's more important; mealtimes, dishes and laundry, but I dream of a tidy home - I feel my mind would be at rest and my shoulders would cease aching. I find sticking a vase of fresh flowers on the table (daffs at the moment) cheers me up and acts as a distraction to the mess. Tonight is fairly typical, I am waiting for my second wind, so I can pack my teaching bag for tomorrow. The ironing is waiting patiently on the armchair, (no doubt there'll be a rush to press uniforms at breakfast) middle child is sat on the floor laminating my teaching resources. Bless her. Husband is washing pots. I could be mistaken for Lady Muck, but I really want to get up and clean!

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 11:34pm

Oh Susan I hear you and feel your pain! Apart from parenting, I'm pretty sure there's alsosomething about having spent my life in the education system that is connected to this performance limiting happiness issue. The Sunday night dread too. The way teaching is set up in England sucks much of the love and joy out of enabling children to learn out of the job, leaving so many teachers exhausted, drained depressed anxious burnt out, all the above (!) you name it. It can consume your whole life and still leave you feeling guilty that you havent done enough because there is no end. I gave up "the" ironing years ago and did the morning rush over uniforms only. Stopped buying clothes that crease! With experience the out of hours things get done quicker, squeezed in and around daylight hours. (so no decent breaks, break duties on top....) As a parent I was doubly guilty. Daring to actually leave staff meetings that always over ran to pick up your child from a child minder late again. I could go on! I dont want to make you feel worse Susan, I'm just saying that you are a hero and that how you're feeling, how your home and family life isn't what you'd like it to be, is completely understandable. I cant speak for all teachers here obviously. I'm sure many manage perfectly well. Perhaps being very compassionate, highly sensitive to the needs of others, worrying endlessly about being good enough and taking far too much on board makes it more difficult to have a healthy work life balance. You and your family are most important and must come first. You have to be ok to do it all. It's so wonderful that you have such a lovely supportive family. Bit by bit, reclaim your life, it's work and if the powers that be don't allow you that, you shouldnt pay for it! Rant over! Much love LP xx

Susan Tue, Apr 12th 2016 @ 10:24pm

LP Just saw your reply. Love this too. :)

LillyPet Tue, Apr 12th 2016 @ 11:35pm


LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 7:54pm

That is so heartwarming Sheena. I aspire to being in that place! :) A the moment I feel as if I stop I'll collapse into an exhausted heap never to return! In reality I actually have returned to big things days apart at a time, but I love the idea that I'm moving towards doing what I can with grace and my health and well being as priorities. Thank you! LP xx

A View from the Far Side Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 8:31pm

Oh that monkey chatter was alive and well in my head this morning so I found your post very apt. I didn't know where to start, but I've done three loads of washing, cooked tea and planted out a few pansies. Love your name LillyPet.

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 11:36pm

ThanksVFTFS! Good for you! Love the planting of pansies ici g on the cake! :) xx

Ruth Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 9:10pm

Been out of action for over four months now but writing lists and trying to tick off little and often.Being the perfectionist that I am I don't feel fulfilled by doing this but I must remember that when I find this a piece of cake and effortless then the alarm bells need to ring before I wear myself out and relapse.Tricky;I usually go with the flow but this time I will try to pace myself.Thanks for your post-it made me think....

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 11:47pm

Hi Ruth, your awareness is the key to moving forward and it's great that you are beginning to pace yourself and be mindfull of those alarm bells. There'll always be a list, writing it down just helps me to feel more clear about what needs to be done. You've reminded me of a really good tip. Think about each thing on the list as a thing that you really want to do when you get a chance. So instead of "Ugh I have to get up for work", it could be "I really want to be nice and early this morning" ( easier said than done I know!) xx

LillyPet Sun, Apr 10th 2016 @ 11:49pm

Thanks for all your comments guys, feeling heaps better about performance limited happiness! :) Xx

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