Last year I read a wonderful book entitled The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. I embarked on a Happiness Project of my own and even invited two friends to join me. We had a couple of happiness project group meetings.
It was a valuable experience and while I think I learned a few new things, mostly I cemented what I already knew about happiness. And I got these ideas onto this blog instead of just in my head.
One of the most important things I believe about happiness is that it’s largely about what you DO DAILY.
In All The Money in the World, Laura Vanderkam points to research that states that more happiness is found in frequent, small experiences than rare, mind blowing ones. In other words, for me reading a good book every week may far exceed the happiness I would get from a once yearly Disney trip.
So I exercise daily. I read something I enjoy every day. I blog or write every day. I read my Bible every day. I get up before my family every day. If something is important to your sense of well being, you will likely find it easier to do that thing every single day. I find that for me, habits are more effective than goals.
Similarly, it’s often the little things that contribute most to happiness. Not letting myself get too hungry and keeping my blood sugar under control are huge. Taking a 20 minute nap every day and making my bed in the mornings. A shade of lipstick that flatters me. Not difficult to accomplish but they all give me a happiness boost.
It’s not selfish to give time and attention to your happiness.
By doing so, you avoid the dreaded martyr mother syndrome and set a good example for your kids. Your happiness also impacts your spouse in a positive way.
One of the things I know about my happiness is that I can’t neglect my social life. If it’s been too many weeks since I’ve had a coffee date with a girlfriend or spent some quality alone time with my husband, my happiness takes a nosedive. Pursing my personal financial and work goals are also vitally important to my well being. Taking time to write and blog are investments in my happiness.
One of Gretchen’s rules for living is to “Be Gretchen”. Part of “Being Carrie” is to let go of things that don’t work… and being ok with that.
“To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” – Gretchen Rubin
I’ve learned that there are effective ways to snap out of a bad mood. And that the bad mood isn’t “wasted” if I go backwards in time to figure out what causes a bad mood, so I can learn something valuable about myself and if possible, avoid those triggers in the future.
Reading the book Being Happy taught me that perfectionism is one of the biggest destroyers of happiness. I try very hard to avoid all or nothing, black/white type thinking for this reason too.
Spending at least 15 minutes outside every day is important for happiness. When the weather is nice, this is more like an hour or more for me. Recently I have begun making sure I am barefoot at least part of the time so I can benefit from “earthing“.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Have you read 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 yet? What have you learned about happiness?