Read and AMAZING book over the weekend. One of those books that can really change your life it you let it. The Happiness Project chronicles the one year journey of author Gretchen Rubin as she tries to find ways to increase her happiness everyday.
Now she wasn’t depressed or even unhappy really. She had/has a very good life but she still found that she had trouble living in the moment and “feeling” that happiness that she knew she should be feeling. She was nagging her husband, being short with her kids, blowing off friends, and in general not making every minute count. So she decided to start a one year happiness project where she studied happiness, started singing in the mornings, acting happy even if she wasn’t feeling it, cleaning her closets, and trying to have more fun.
This book resonated with me for a couple reasons. Like the author I have a good life and tons of reasons to be happy. I have great kids, a great husband, a nice home, we don’t struggle with money or have any real problems. But I also have trouble sitting back with a smile and thinking .. “I am happy right now”. Why is that? I have the habit of thinking “I will be happy when”…. and then following that up with some dream or goal. The problem is… when you reach that goal it changes to something else or if you haven’t managed to reach that goal then happiness feels elusive to you. That might make sense if there were not a hundred other things you could be and should be happy about right now!
Another reason I liked this book is because I started my own happiness project of sorts at the beginning of the year. I just didn’t realize it at the time and I didn’t really discuss it here. I decided that instead of making a bunch of New Year’s Resolutions I was going to make this the year I took care of ME. Whatever else I accomplished this year I was going to get back to putting self care at the top of my to-do list. For the past 10 years I have put all of myself into taking care of my kidlets and putting my self dead last. With my youngest turning five I decided it was time to start taking care of me again. Of course my kids benefit when I am feeling good as well… I have more energy, I want to do more fun activities, and I snap at them less. Its a win-win for all and I am not sure why I allowed my needs to come last for so long. The other aspect I wanted to work on was my marriage… which has had an equally low place on the totem pole since kids came into the picture. But I quickly began to see that taking care of me was equally beneficial to my husband… I nagged less, I wanted to spend more time with him, and we got along MUCH better when I could see the forest through the trees.
Sooo… even though I wasn’t calling it a happiness project I had started one of my own design already and so reading this book and seeing the steps the author was working through was such an encouraging thing. Each month she chose a theme to work on and had a checklist of things she needed to accomplish for each. For the first month it was Vitality. Her main goal was to boost energy and she set about doing this by getting more sleep, exercising better, organizing her mental and physical clutter, tackling her to-do list, and acting more energetic even if she didn’t feel more energetic. Each month was similar to this and I LOVE the concept. I have been working towards vitality myself for awhile now. In the past month I decided to go to bed at 10PM instead of 11 or 12. I joined a gym that I love and have been taking water aerobics classes. I have also been organizing and decluttering. I categorized it as part of my self care plan but it fits nicely within the vitality theme as well.
My marriage goals work well with the second month’s theme… Remember Love. I also think I skipped ahead to month 7 with Buy Some Happiness because I have been buying myself flowers once a month to perk up my desk. Okay not quite flowers… some blooming branches, but same difference. They make me happy and normally I would feel guilty splurging on something like that. Why do moms always feel guilty when we treat ourselves?
Now I think I am going to be more mindful of having a theme and a checklist to work on each month. Breaking it down into bite size chunks makes it easier to tackle. The best part though is that you can really start to identify what makes you happy and that you are quite happy already most days. It is no longer that elusive thing you are aspiring to… it was already there you just had to learn to be mindful of it. We can get off the roller coaster of thoughts that tell us we will be happy when this or that happens. We can be happy now… as in right this minute, if we want to be.
Do you also have trouble being happy in the moment?