Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Happiness Project

"Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likeable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens." - Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not unhappy. Do I appreciate how lucky I am to be married to a good man, to have two healthy, intelligent children and to have family and friends who give of their love, time and friendship generously? Yes! Does it ever cross my mind that the pure chance of not being born in poverty in the third world means simply by having enough food to eat I am happier than the great majority of people on this earth? Frequently! Should I be grateful for the life I have? You better believe it! I am grateful. But could I do with a little more contentment... a bit more "in the moment" joy? Not only could I do with it, I crave it.

Much like Gretchen Rubin describes in her book, I find myself looking at my life and thinking, so this is it? Married, two kids, working, fighting off under eye wrinkles and gray hair and a gnawing sense of, THIS IS IT! Who I am, living the life I've got, waiting for everything to magically become perfect. If only the mortgage were paid off and the kids wouldn't smear paint or fingernail polish all over the table. If only those stupid unmatched socks would pair themselves up and march to the sock drawers. If only I could fit into my skinny jeans and the dog wouldn't chase the UPS man. If only I had more time and less to do.... wouldn't life be deliciously, deliriously, wondrously wonderful?

So how do I let go of the elusive perfect and find the happiness in the good?

By embarking on my own happiness project. Implementing small strategies and setting small mile markers to up the happy quotient in my life. After all, a happier me will mean happier people surrounding me.

This month's goals are to get more sleep (people who are well-rested have more energy to do the things and make the changes that will make them happy) and to wrap up at least one nagging task I've let go too long. Yes I am mimicking Gretchen's first month goals almost exactly... but I think this is a good place to start for me. I never sleep all night long. Waking up ten times is not unusual. When I do get enough sleep, I have more energy, get more done and feel more satisfied with my day. My upstairs space is almost finished. But it has been over a year since I did anything with that room! The blinds need to be hung, the paint splotches cleaned up and the furniture placed and arranged. I've found a thousand reasons (probably literally, a thousand) not to tackle these boring tasks... and the unfinishedness of it hangs over me (also quite literally) like a gloomy what-if. I think the satisfaction of completing this long overdue job will be worth the drudgery of actually tackling the tedium of paint scraping, window cleaning, furniture staining, etc.

With that said, I do realize that there is no magic secret to contentment. But I equally realize that exploring what makes people appreciate what they have, what they are actively doing to achieve contentment and gratefulness is an endeavor worth undertaking, if only for the journey and not the destination. Here's to happiness!


Fairlie said...

I've recommended this book to many people and I've yet to have one make a negative comment about it! (Having said that, it is my bookclub choice this month, and we're discussing it tonight!). I particularly like the idea that it's not about changing yourself from unhappy to happy - as like you, I think I'm happy already - it's about adding that extra something.

After re-reading it, I've been inspire to start my own Project, and yes, I'll be pretty much copying Gretchen's goals for the first month too.

Cell Block said...

My worry is that once you fit into your skinny jeans will you start chasing the UPS man.

Aunty Evil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

I'm reading THP ATM and it pretty much dovetails in with Wellbeing - a book put out by the Gallup Group except that Gretchen's book is grounded in everyday examples.

I'm not good at sticking to projects but am trying some of the little things.

Melinda said...

Aunty Evil, Cell Block needs your gmail address in order to add you to his blog. You can email it to him at

Stomper Girl said...

I laughed at Rob's comment. The UPS man might chase you too, of course! Good luck with your happiness project.

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