Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Happiness Project

I finished reading a book called The Happiness Project about a month ago.  It was recommended by a blogger that I follow and her post made me interested in checking it out.  While we were in Oregon at Powell's Books I went in search of it and luckily they had a copy.  Actually it probably wasn't lucky.  This was the same bookstore that takes up an entire city block...I'm willing to bet if you can think of a title they have a copy in there somewhere.

Anyway, I started reading it recently and after finishing I highly recommend it.  The author, Gretchen Rubin, clearly states that this book is not meant to help someone who is depressed or even genuinely UNhappy.  She wrote this book mainly to tell about her "Happiness Project" over the course of a year.  At the very beginning of the book she says that she wasn't unhappy with her life.  She loved her job, had a great marriage, and two wonderful, healthy daughters.  Her main concern was that even though she had these amazing blessings she found herself being too negative, complaining too much, and letting lots of little, nagging problems take away from her happiness.  She wasn't as happy as she SHOULD be or COULD be.

She focused on one "resolution" per month and by the end of the year she had twelve resolutions put in motion.  At the end of the year she began to wonder why she had started the project in the first place.  Her husband's thought was one that I can totally relate to in my own life.  He said, " I think this happiness project is all about you trying to get more control over your life."  That one statement resonated with me more than anything else that she said in the entire book.  Feeling like you do not have control over your own life is a sure fire way to lose happiness.  After reading each month of her experiences I found more resolutions than not that I could see trying out in my own life.

She started her project in January and I started a much "looser" version of my own project in March.  Each of her months had one main resolution with several goals to help her keep it.  For example, her January resolution was "Boost Energy" and her goals were:  Go to sleep earlier, Exercise better, Toss, restore, organize, Tackle a nagging task, and Act more energetic.

This was a fabulous chapter and through the majority of it I found myself thinking "Oh my gosh, I so need to do all of this!!!" and "Yes!  That takes away from my happiness too!"  When I thought about it I realized that there are so many tiny, little, nagging things in your day to day life that zap tiny little bits of your energy but over time really wear on you.  The main overall goal of Mrs. Rubin's project was to figure out what those little, nagging happiness suckers are, change them, fix them, or replace them with things that GIVE happiness.

These were her resolutions for the year:

January- Boost Energy (Vitality)
February-Remember Love (Marriage)
March-Aim Higher (Work)
April-Lighten Up (Parenthood)
May-Be Serious About Play (Leisure)
June-Make Time for Friends (Friendship)
July-Buy Some Happiness (Money)
August-Contemplate the Heavens (Eternity)
September-Pursue a Passion (Books)
October-Pay Attention (Mindfulness)
November-Keep a Contented Heart (Attitude)
December-Boot Camp Perfect (Happiness)

All of her resolutions did not apply to my life and sometimes even if I could relate to the resolution, I would set different goals to go about accomplishing it.  She did tons of reading and research during each month and even made herself Resolutions Charts to assess her progress each day.  I haven't gone all out to use the charts and I definitely don't have the time to do lots of reading and research.  For me, I'm not all that interested in the research and studies.  For the most part I KNOW what is zapping my energy and happiness on a daily basis...its just a matter of taking the time to do something about them.  I do see the value of setting a resolution and goals per month and finding some way to document it so that you actually stick to it.  My version of this is going to be blogging about it at the end of the month.  I don't have all of my resolutions formally mapped out for each month but I have a general idea of the big goals that I know I want to work on.  I'm being a little lenient with myself because not only am I 7 months pregnant but I'm also chasing a toddler.  My main goal for myself is to be aware of "happiness zappers" and do a little bit each day to fix them.  If I can accomplish that I will feel successful.

I highly, highly recommend this book if you can relate to anything that I've described.  I'll be posting about my first "resolution" and what I learned during March in a couple of weeks!

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