My Happiness Project

When your neighbor drops a book off at your front door with a cute orange ribbon tied around it, then you have no choice but to read it.  Such is the case with “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin.  My neighbor Brittany and I had been talking about the book and then it showed up one day with the sweetest note inside.  Brittany wanted me to read it so that it may help me get into a routine with my writing.

My Happiness Project

I have written a great book.  The problem is I have written it in my head.  Actually sitting down to take the time to put “pen to paper” has been another thing.  Part of Rubin’s happiness project was to write around 1,600 words a day so that at the end of 30 days she had about a 50,000 word novel.  I like the idea, but even she admits that the work was sloppy and no one was actually going to read the novel, and I would prefer to take the time to do it right.  There’s hope for me.  It’s an attainable goal, one I just need to give myself permission to pursue.

I’ll admit, it took me a really long time to finish this book.  I enjoyed it, but it was super slow in parts and I wasn’t sure what Rubin was so unhappy about.  She is an accomplished writer, after leaving another career, which one would assume isn’t an easy thing to do.  She has a great husband and two great daughters.  But, like a lot of us she felt as if she was constantly nagging, getting in tiffs with her husband over nothing, and feeling tired and overwhelmed most of the time.  Isn’t that just life?

I don’t like to nag, but sometimes you have to.  We have a bathroom faucet that drips.  I nagged, and nagged and nagged my husband about it for about a year.  He did try to fix it to the best of his ability, but in the end he couldn’t.  So, I stopped nagging and three years later it still drips.  It makes me more unhappy to think about the amount of water we’re wasting than it does about nagging him to fix it.

As far as tiffs go, there was a recent study where they asked people if it was more important to be happy or be right, and the majority said it was more important to be right.  This Los Angeles Times article talks about the study and the thought that happiness is overrated.  So the question becomes not can you really change these behaviors and be happier, but do you really want to?

We’ll see as I’m about to try.  Rubin set goals each month for a twelve month period.  I felt it was a lot of goals to try and accomplish each month and then carry into the next, while continually adding new goals.  At times my head was spinning.  I knew my happiness project would have to be a little less ambitious than hers.

I agreed with a lot of Rubin’s goals and thought they would also work well for me but some of them I didn’t understand why she needed to include.  Such as reading Aristotle.  No thank you.  But Rubin enjoys reading the classics, so this would seem to be something she would naturally do.  Also, she purposely read depressing books about real people who met untimely deaths or had horrible things happen to them.  She felt it would make her feel grateful and more appreciative of her own life.  Reading books like that would just make me sad and unhappy.

The first thing one must do when starting a Happiness Project is to decide what their “First Splendid Truth” is.  Mine is to stop people pleasing.  I’ve already been working on this for a few years, but I still need help.  I want to do things because they make me feel happy, not because I feel guilty about saying “no” to someone.

Here’s what my happiness project is going to look like:

Goals/Resolutions

  1.  Exercise More {or at all}
    1. Take more walks and bike rides
    2. Do more yoga
    3. Find a simple workout that I can do daily
  2. Organize my Entire House {luckily, I had already started this project.  I have organized every room in my house and now just have the master closet left to do.  Huge accomplishment that took several months and several trips to IKEA}
  3. Be More Social
    1. Go to more happy hours, have more Girl’s Nights Out
    2. Host more game nights
    3. Host a tea/brunch {This has been on my radar for a while now, I just need to do it}
  4. Try New Places {I tend to eat at the same restaurants and go to the same shopping centers.  It sometimes feels like I live in a bubble.  I’d like to venture outside the bubble at least once a month}
  5. Tackle Nagging Tasks {those tasks you just seem to keep putting off.  Just do it!}
    1. Daily Clutter {daily clutter tends to turn into weekly clutter and before you know it my kitchen island is buried under all that clutter.}
    2. Photos {its ironic that before my daughter was born, I was great at ordering photos and putting them in albums every few months.  Now that we have more photos than we know what to do with, I haven’t done it in years and I’m currently two years behind.}
  6. Put More Into Writing
    1. Blog more often and be more consistent
    2. Start that book
    3. Write daily
  7. Remember birthdays and send cards/gifts on time {I’m already behind on this one.}
  8. Spend less time on social media
  9. Be more patient with my family, especially my daughter during homework {homework is currently the bane of my existence, and I’ve already failed miserably at this}
    1. Give myself a time out when I feel I may lose my temper
    2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
    3. Fight Right

For more information, please check out Gretchen Rubin’s blog

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