Showing posts from February, 2011

Happiness Project: Commandments

This is the final piece of my happiness project discussion before the big Happiness Binder reveal. (Yay!) Gretchen Rubin created a list of items that she wanted to continually accomplish with her happiness project . This list she refers to as her resolutions. “I noticed idly that a lot of people use the term ‘goal’ instead of ‘resolution,’ and one day in December, it struck me that this difference was in fact significant. You hit a goal, you keep a resolution. ‘Run a marathon’ makes a good goal. It’s specific, it’s easy to measure success, and once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. ‘Sing in the morning’ and ‘Exercise better’ are better cast as resolutions. You won’t wake up one day and find that you’ve achieved it. It’s something that you have to resolve to do every day, forever. Striving toward a goal provides the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness, but it can be easy to get discouraged if reaching the goal is more difficult than you expected… Each day I try to live up to m

Happiness Project: Accepting and Letting Go

I have written a little about why I’m embarking on this happiness project. But I believe there are other reasons as well. At the most basic level, I’m simply interested in ideas of self-improvement. In college, I majored in Communication Studies , though I have been told that I missed my calling and should have majored in Psychology. Many areas of both courses of study overlap, especially psychology and the non-verbal communication area of Communication Studies, which was my concentration within that discipline. Anyway, since starting this project and since stating my purpose, I have thought more about it. I think partly, I am doing this as a form of control. I don’t exactly know how to handle my current health issues since I have not had any on-going issue up until now. And so much of it is out of my control. It tends to make me a little anxious, to say the least. This project is one way of turning this whole thing around into a positive thing. Imagine my surprise and somewhat deligh

Happiness Project: Gratitude

In the words of Gretchen Rubin : “Gratitude is important to happiness. Studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives; they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means and also to be generous to others. Gratitude fosters forbearance—it’s harder to feel disappointed with someone when you’re feeling grateful toward him or her. Gratitude also connects you to the natural world, because one of the easiest things to feel grateful for is the beauty of nature.” Before I even started reading The Happiness Project , I began a list of things I was grateful for. I wanted to remind myself of the good things in life, rather than focusing on the things I was not happy with. It started out with the obvious (my husband, my f

Happiness Project: Finding Your Passion

Author Gretchen Rubin believes that you can increase your happiness level by finding your passion(s) in life. Hers is writing and blogging. She says that it brings a challenge to her life, one that results in happiness. “…It allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger.” I have found this to be true as well. Since finding my own passion in life , I have been working hard at it—creating this blog and making time to write in my journal . I find writing therapeutic and necessary in order to straighten out the chaos of my life. It’s also no secret that writing in my planner helps in this area too. It seems to be the act of putting thoughts and ideas down on paper (or sending them out into the virtual universe) that helps me make sense of this world. Maybe this is why I’m so passionate about organizing too —it helps to put order to those things that we can actually control. And there are other things I’m passionate about, just because I enjoy doing them— knitting , readin

Happiness Project: Mindfulness and the Little Things

One thing that Gretchen Rubin emphasizes in The Happiness Project is to be mindful of the things you do in life. She talks about how time just whizzes by. I often feel like this. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t had a weekend because I’m so busy doing errands and meeting people and constantly running and checking items off of my to-do list . Some of it needs to be done, while others I want to do. But it can’t all be done all of the time, and I often get burnt out. I wish I could do it all, but it’s just not possible and sometimes we have to make hard choices about what to say yes to and what to say no to. I have started putting this idea into practice (saying no once a week is one of my commandments —a full list will be discussed in a future post). Now, rather than moving things around in my own schedule to accommodate others (as I tend to do), I simply say no to something I can’t (or don’t want) to fit in. It’s hard for me to do, but it’s necessary for my own sanity. It gives me a li

Winter Light

There is something profoundly sad about the winter. Obviously, it’s colder, drearier, and has fewer hours of sunlight than the summer months. But even the sunlight itself seems sadder. Of course, it’s not as bright due to the Earth’s position, but this time of year is just sad all around, at least for me. One of my favorite “luxuries” is to nap on my days off. I only sleep about 20 minutes or so, but I do it more for the relaxation and meditation benefits. Sometimes I don’t sleep so much as teeter on the edge of sleep, lying in that wakeful dreaming state where even my thoughts feel like dreams, though I’m not exactly dreaming. During the winter, I nap in the sunlight. Lucky for me, the sun shines right on my bedroom pillows in the late afternoon. So, like my cat, I curl up under the blanket and doze in the sunshine. It reminds me of bright, warm days and the promise of spring to come. Plus, I once read an article on napping, and the author suggested sleeping in a lighted space so that

Happiness Project: My Purpose

One of my fears in life is doctors. Well, not doctors so much as what they could tell me. Truth: I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. Why this is, I can only guess. A few years ago, my father died of complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewey Body disease . Most people are familiar with Parkinson’s, mainly because of Michael J. Fox . However, not too many people are familiar with Lewey Body disease. In a nutshell, the two are related, though professionals don’t know if they go hand-in-hand or if one can cause the other. Either way, LBD is not a common condition. Its symptoms are similar to both PD and Alzheimer’s disease . My father had the classic PD symptoms—tremor; rigidity; bradykinesia ; impaired balance; difficulty walking, talking and following simple commands. He was diagnosed in his late 40s, the age at which it is considered early on-set. Most people who are diagnosed are older, in their 70s or 80s. However, as the disease progressed, he started showing classic signs of LBD a

365 Thank Yous: A Book Review

After seeing this post on Philofaxy , I immediately added 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik to my must read list. Prior to the mention on Philofaxy, I had started my own list of things to be thankful for, so the mention was perfect timing for me. Kralik, being bogged down with financial trouble and personal issues, has hit bottom. One day, he decides to take a walk in the mountains of California. While walking, he hears a voice tell him, “‘Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want.’” He then decides to write 365 thank you notes—one per day for the next year—thanking the people who have made some kind of difference in his life, whether large or small. Through this process, he discovers much more than he bargained for. This act changed his life. As a general read, I wouldn’t say that this book changed my life. However, we always need to be reminded to be thankful for the things we have. If you are reading this post, you already have mo

The Happiness Project: Structure of My Project

I have been thinking a lot about my happiness project and how I will create my tools for it. Basically, I will house everything I need in my Me Binder , which will be renamed The Happiness Binder. (I’m happy about the new name considering I never did like “Me Binder.”) When it’s complete and ready to go, I will take and post pictures and write an entry on how the binder will be set up and used. For now, I’m creating both a mental and physical list (in my Malden of course) of what needs to go into the binder. In The Happiness Project book (reviewed here ), author Gretchen Rubin discusses her own project with her sister. They are talking about the way in which Rubin approaches the project and how her sister characterizes her as “weird, but in a good way.” Rubin says, “‘You mean how I’m trying to turn goals like “Contemplate death” or “Embrace now” into action items?’” Her sister responds with, “‘Exactly. I don’t even know what an “action item” is.’” Rubin later states, “I wanted to

The Happiness Project: An Introduction

I tend to take a lot of notes when reading a non-fiction book, especially if it’s something that I can gain some kind of knowledge from. Such was the case when reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project . I used my little Post-it Flags to mark passages, quotes, and references to other books, movies, blogs, etc. Once I was done with the book, I went through all of these passages so that I could comment on them or make a list of items to look into. I found that I related to a lot of what was discussed in this book. Rather than bore you with one really long post, I thought I’d break up my notes. The next several posts will discuss various topics found within the book. Once I have done that, I will explain how my Me Binder will be transformed into my Happiness Binder. There won’t be too much change from what it already is. But I the focus will be more on appreciating life in general and all that it includes. Rubin discusses why she started her happiness project, and I have to say tha

The Happiness Project: A Book Review

I just finished 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 . First, let me say that I *loved* this book. Mainly, since I’ve been dealing with trying to highlight my own happiness, I really felt that reading this book at this point in my life was meant to be. It was just something I needed. Someone asked me if this is a good book or if the author just rambled on and on and on about how happy she is and how she’s trying to get other people to be happy. The book isn’t really like that—it’s not a how-to book. Rather, it’s Rubin’s journey to find her own happiness. It started one day, out of the blue, while riding the bus. She thought, “The days are long but the years are short. Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” So she decided to start a happiness project. She created year-long resolutions for herself, focusing on a han