On the practice of happy-do

Posted: - Modified: | life, sketches

Happy-do If you have a clear picture of what makes you happy, it becomes easier to transform things you don’t particularly enjoy doing into things that you do. I like to think of this as happy-do: the martial art of happiness.

Like aikido, happy-do is about using your opponent’s energy to “gain control of them or to throw them away from you.” (from the Aikido FAQ). Like judo, it’s about timing and leverage. In both aikido and judo, the first thing a beginner learns is ukemi–how to fall safely. Then they learn different ways to transform other people’s force while developing flexibility, speed, and proficiency. In happy-do, you start with being able to see the silver lining and pick yourself up off the ground, and then you learn how to make things even better.

Yesterday was a fantastic happy-do day. I turned some of my most frustrating tasks into things I enjoy. For example, I really don’t like working with clunky databases where I can’t find the information I want. I needed to get a better sense of the documents relevant to our project phase, though. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the jumble of documents, I spent some time learning how to make a database view that showed me only items created this quarter. It made things so much better. I helped my team members learn how to make it for themselves, too. That turned the task of working with clunky databases into the more enjoyable activities of learning something new, building tools, relentlessly improving processes, and helping others grow, too.

I also don’t enjoy writing design documents, particularly as I get frustrated when the word processor I use messes up my layout when I insert images. Instead of struggling with the word processor and with the tiny eraser-type mouse on my laptop, I imported the wireframes into my favorite drawing program and used my tablet to move things around. That turned it from the frustrating task of working on design documents into drawing, one of the things I enjoy a lot.

Bicycle My last example–and all of this was just yesterday!–is about exercise. I’m not particularly fond of cardiovascular exercise (yet), and I never liked running (too much impact). I also don’t really enjoy commuting, which is one of the reasons why I try to work from home as much as possible. =) But if I take exercise and commuting, and I throw a bicycle into that mix, it becomes a whole lot more fun! After work yesterday, I biked to Yonge and Bloor (a good 30 minutes with a number of inclines), picked up some lightweight interfacing for a sewing project and some more Vogue patterns to try, and then biked back. That was a lot of fun, and it was good for me. Hooray!

Map out things you enjoy doing, and think about how you can transform your other tasks into something like them. Not all tasks lend themselves well to happy-do–sometimes you just have to do what you have to do–but you might be surprised at what you can transform. Enjoy!

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