I know I’m a little behind on the times, but I decided this was my year for self improvement and that means completing “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.
It’s only been two months of committing to better my life through this woman’s suggestions, but I’ve already found them to be useful! As a writer, the book is extra helpful because her examples usually have to do with improving things related to her career as an author. (Less work for me to decipher how to adapt her examples into my own life!) For the month of March one of her tasks is to launch a blog. Since I already have this blog connected to my author website, I thought I would take this opportunity to get serious about blogging here. I never thought I had much to share with people before, but this book helped me see that just by sharing my own thoughts and experiences I could connect with other people who share my same thoughts, experiences, and interests. Sounds simple, but for some reason I had to hear it from someone else first to be able to accept it. So, I’m going to share my Happiness Project experiences here once a month. Hopefully it inspires you to examine your own life and make some positive changes.
If you’ve already done the project, I would love to hear about your own experience with it and how it’s changed your life in the comments section.
So here goes….
January BOOST ENERGY-VITALITY
QUOTES: “Sleep is the new sex.” “Being paid turns it into work.” “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” “Do what ought to be done.” “Make a list, do a little each day, and stay calm.” “Sometimes the most difficult part of doing a task is jut deciding to do it.” “Although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act.” “Fake it till you feel it.”
GO TO SLEEP EARLIER: This one was particularly easy for me, because I feel I do already go to bed pretty early. I’m usually in bed right after Charlotte goes down at 7:30, to read or write or watch TV, and the lights are off by 1030pm. It’s a good routine and I decided to stick with it. The only times it is hard to stick to is when Johnny is staying over, because even though my bedtime is at 1030pm, his is not. I’d be getting ready for bed and he would break out the guitar or turn on the TV and I would want to indulge. If it was guitar-playing, I almost always stayed up to indulge.
EXERCISE BETTER: This one I did not do as well as I would have liked to, but not from a lack of want. I want very much to exercise regularly, even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes a day. But ever since January began, our family has been passing around all different kinds of winter sick. It’s almost impossible to do crunches while you’re hacking or push ups while your nose is dripping. I will hold onto this resolution, though, and keep trying till I get it consistently down.
(UPDATE 3/1 I have now implemented a steady easy routine of morning and evening yoga with 50 squats at both times. Not a ton, but is better than nothing and makes me feel good!)
TOSS, RESTORE, ORGANIZE: This one I mastered! I was so dedicated to getting my apartment cleaned out and organized. Each Saturday I tackled a different set of rooms. First it was the bedrooms, which my closet and Charlotte’s dressers were the biggest tasks. It ended with six garbage bag full of clothes from my closet and two from Charlotte’s for Goodwill and Once Upon A Child. Next, I moved onto the bathrooms. This one was both satisfying and disappointing, because mine looked amazing after! I cleaned out so much under the sink, scrubbed the nicotine tears off the walls, cleaned the mirrors, removed all junk from on the counter, reorganized the medicine cabinet, and thoroughly cleaned the shower. But Charlotte’s bathroom I didn’t even touch. One reason, mine took all day. Another reason, there’s nothing really in her bathroom that she doesn’t need or use. I also included the hall closet into the bathroom cleaning, which was immensely satisfying because it was a pit before and now it’s perfect. Next was the living spaces, which include the dining room, living room, and play room. The dining room didn’t need anything really. But the playroom felt good. It was a mess before, and although I had already cleaned out her toys not too long ago so there wasn’t much to put in storage for baby #2, it was super clean again. The living room didn’t need much either. Just a little reorganizing and taking down of the Christmas tree. This Saturday, the last of the month, is the kitchen. It’s a small kitchen, but I think will be a decent-sized task, mainly cleaning out the fridge.
TACKLE A NAGGING TASK: My nagging task this month was cleaning out my car. It was so cold all month and snowing most days that I didn’t want to stay outside for 20 minutes throwing stuff away and bringing stuff inside, but the car desperately needed it. Plus, there was the Charlotte situation, which I used as an excuse not to do it. She would either have to stay in the apartment alone while I was downstairs cleaning up or she would have to endure the cold with me, while mostly not feeling great. The month is almost over, but we finally had a warm day, 50 degrees! I cleaned the car out super-fast and it felt great.
Update 3/1: My car has since become a pit again so this is the nagging task that will never truly be over…
ACT MORE ENERGETIC: This one was difficult for me too, mainly because it was the forgotten resolution. I do have a tendency to be more tired than most thru ought the day, but I realized that it was mostly from taking my anxiety medication when I woke up. I switched to taking it at night and that instantly helped to give me a boost of energy. I also started taking B vitamins again, which seemed to help. I think if I had been more successful in exercising I would get better sleep too, but this one isn’t really about having more energy, but acting like I do. I did the best I could with the colds, coughs, and what not. I tried to complain less about being tired, smile more, and get more done even though I would have rather napped. I will keep working on this one too to see if I can improve on it, though.
February REMEMBER LOVE- MARRIAGE
QUOTES: “There is only love” “When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason), you lessen anger and resentment, and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage.” “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” “We are happy when we are growing.” “Do it for yourself.” “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.”
QUIT NAGGING: I don’t feel either of us nags the other much. We both do so much for each other and share the responsibilities equally that there isn’t much to complain about. I will keep my eyes open for it, though, and improve if I do catch myself nagging about anything in particular. Halfway through the month and I am still not nagging. I don’t think this is a problem of mine. The month was nag-free and it was great. No real arguments or hurt feelings.
DON’T EXPECT PRAISE OR APPRECIATION: This is always a tough one! I like knowing that the other person appreciates what I do, but I understand the concept of doing things for yourself and not for others hoping they recognize it. I don’t do the dishes hoping he says good job. I do them because I like to clear away the clutter. I will have to work on this one this month for sure. Halfway through the month, I’ve been doing things more for the love of Johnny than for his praise and it is a nice feeling. (But that could be because he IS super good about showing his appreciation. This one I struggled with because I was being extreme nice as it says to in give proofs of love, but there would be times I would text something really great about my love for him and he wouldn’t say anything, either busy at work and read later or whatever the case. I would be disappointed because he didn’t share his feelings back, but I know I shouldn’t have been expecting that, and knowing that made it easier to let go.
FIGHT RIGHT: This one we’ve already improved on so much. We rarely fight. I’d say we have one major issue to discuss once a month. With our counseling with Bill and his wife, already came up with fightin’ rules and posted on the board by the fridge. I will need to revisit those and see if we’re living up to them, though. Halfway through the month, I feel like this area of our relationship has improved so much. I’m learning to just listen when he comes to me with fears rather than trying to fix them right then, because it’s not going to happen, and just by listening it seems to help ease his fears alone. We really didn’t have a fight this month. We usually have one good one a month. We did talk about our feelings and his hurt and worry, which made me cry a little, but we talked about it in a loving way that made it feel like an important discussion more than anything. I’m taking his feelings into consideration much more, which is helping to keep the bickering down.
NO DUMPING: This one is going to be tough. We want to be open with each other and we decided that from the beginning of this relationship, but I do at times feel we overshare, which can also be known as emotional dumping. I don’t have to tell him every little twinge of jealousy, doubt, fear, worry, or anything else I have, especially if it’s trivial and will go away and disappear on its own. Halfway through the month, I am trying to pick and choose what I come to him with. I have had complaints or problems, related to him or unrelated to him, that I’ve felt the need to share, but overall I’m still working on this one. This one I think I did well on, but mainly because I haven’t had much issues to bring up. Life has been great. He might be dumping a little on me with his worries about my past and getting over it, but I’m doing everything I can to help him through it.
GIVE PROOFS OF LOVE: This one I expect to be very easy. We are super affectionate with each other; giving long hugs, plenty of kisses, massages, cuddles, appreciation, kind words. Halfway through the month, I am still being extra sweet, loving, and giving so many proofs of love in the forms that he feels the most; touching him, hugging, kissing, helping him with tasks. This has been an easy task! I love him so much and we’re both great at sharing that.
So there you have it. My progress so far in my Happiness Project! I do have to credit though that a lot of the positive changes in my life, especially in my relationships, are attributed to learning more about Christianity and God. He’s done some great work in my life and it has changed my entire being and attitude getting to know Him better. The changes brought from this book are definitely great added bonuses to that, though and I’m happy to be doing this.
March’s tasks for Aim Higher (Work) are launch a blog, enjoy the fun of failure, ask for help, work smart, and enjoy now! I like to keep a sticky note with the tasks labeled to remind me every day to do these things on my computer monitor at work. Keep an eye out at the beginning of April for how I did with these things.
And don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments area!