Saturday, February 26, 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 my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging.”

She also has a list of 12 commandments, “rules” for approaching her happiness project. She keeps each of these in mind when striving for her daily happiness. These are the things that will keep her on her right path.

In the beginning, I had some difficulty in seeing the different between the two. My interpretation is that the commandments are her rules for approaching happiness so that she stays true to herself and her project, rather than doing things the way another person would do them. The resolutions are the things that she strives to achieve each day—similar to a to-do list but not as exact, nor are the items ever crossed off the list. She tries to do them each and every day.

I like the idea of both lists, but as I was coming up with my own, I found that a lot of individual ideas overlapped, so I decided to create one list—items to strive for each and every day, thus creating a list of rules in which to approach my happiness. However, I don’t intend to be super strict with myself—if I accomplish them, great! If not, tomorrow is another day, another start, a clean slate.

This list lives in the “Happiness” section of my Happiness Binder. Some ideas I have borrowed from Rubin and her readers, others I have created.

Be Kanalt.
Let it go.
Enjoy the process.
Lighten up.
Do it for me. No one else.
Enjoy now.
Take comfort in the little things in life.
Don’t expect it to last forever. Everything changes and that’s okay.
Tell someone no at least once a week.
Give thanks: for the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Be silly. Be light.
Choose not to take things personally.
This too shall pass.
Help is everywhere.
What would I do if I weren’t scared?
Start where you are.
Let go, let God.
Wait to respond.
Take each day for what it is.
Write every day.
Face fear and anxiety head-on the best you can.
Choose happiness every day.
If you should fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin again.
Make time to play and to relax.
Take time every day to appreciate and enjoy nature.
See the humor in every situation.

This list will be added to and changed as needed, but it’s a good place to start.

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