Has anyone read The Happiness Project? My best friend recommended that I read it because she knew it was something I would immediately dive into with full force. Clearly she is aware of my reading habits, as discussed in in last week’s post. Well, I started reading it on the way back from Atlanta and within one chapter it already had me thinking.
The Happiness Project is about a New Yorker who despite her fortunate life, wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, and a published writer amongst other things, she found herself to not be as happy as she thought she could be. There was potential for more. It wasn’t that she was unhappy, she’s just thought she could be more happy. She knew she had a amazing life but when she took a step back from everything she found herself not appreciating all the blessings in her life. The woman decides to set out on a journey to create a happiness project. A twelve-month-long project that is devoted to making her more happy. However, as much as this decision was made on a whim, after the fact there was much research. She had read a number of books from authors like Henry David Thoreau and biographies of Benjamin Franklin in addition to books on psychology and philosophy. She looked into several options and did extensive research. After all, everything important we know about happiness has already been discovered and documented by the great men that have come before us. She took a part of her newly developed project from a biography on Benjamin Franklin. His theory for happiness was to create a chart of twelve things that he could improve in his life that would make him happier. The key is to focus on each task every day. The author of “The Happiness Project,” Gretchen Rubin, decided that she would take the twelve aspects and apply them to each month in one year. Each month focuses on one aspect and then the next month adds another task that she felt needed attention. By the end of the year she will have accumulated twelve aspects that will provide her, hopefully, with a closer grasp on happiness.
Sounds like a good plan, right?! I mean who wouldn’t want to be happier. This whole theory really got me to thinking on the plane ride on Friday. I have found myself at a similar point in my life. It’s not a matter of being unhappy. I love my life and am so fortunate to live the life I lead. I am blessed beyond words. However, I feel that I could be even happier. I have so many things to be thankful for but at the same time i feel like i don’t appreciate them to their full capacity. Not to mention, i feel like my life is flying by and i haven’t taken the time to truly live it. I am twenty-two but somehow feel so young and so old all at the same time. Am I alone on this? Maybe you need to read the book to understand it?
I started to think about what my twelve things to focus on would be on over a year long happiness project. Yes, I’ve asked myself multiple questions about this. One major question being: can I even do it? Do I want to do it? I mean, who are we kidding. I am A.D.D. and go through phases all the time. Is this just another phase? What will my friends and family think? Will my boyfriend think I’m crazy for doing this? How will I define success- if I am happy at the end? Or if I am happier on daily basis? And the inevitable…what if it doesn’t work?
As I sat on the plane I thought about all the questions before enduring on a happiness project and I turned to my iPod for inspiration. I immediately knew what song to turn on repeat: “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. It’s a “happy place song” for me. Maybe because home is a such a happy place for me. Although, this got me to thinking, as well. Over the years my “home” has changed quite a bit. Up until five years ago home was Boston, MA. But now, whether my mother wants to accept this or not, my home is in Texas. When traveling, people ask me where I am from. Lately, I have found myself saying Texas. And not just with a casual reply, I am talking with such pride you wouldn’t’ believe. Now, to clarify… if people ask me if I am originally from Texas or where I grew up, I obviously say Massachusetts. I know this sounds weird but freshman year of college whenever I was asked where I was from, I replied, “Boston.” This was either followed by one of two things: 1. If in a bar, “oh you’re from Austin! Awesome, what high school did you go to?” Or 2. Boston, what the heck are you doing here? (As if people from other states weren’t allowed in Texas). Regardless, I said Boston and corrected every single person that ever thought I was from Austin. I was so incredibly proud to be from Boston. After all, I was the only person I knew from Boston at TCU. Not going to lie, I felt pretty freaking unique to say the least. Now, my home is in Texas and I couldn’t be more excited to say this is where I live. I am proud to be an official Texan now! I was just recently told by someone that I had a Texas accent. This made my day! How could it not? I finally belonged. For the last five years I have been in a place that I always seemed to fit into and now the feelings are mutual.
So what does this and my plane ride thought process have to do with my potential happiness project? Maybe nothing. But it has helped to clarify and remind me of a few things:
– Home is truly where the heart is
– You can in fact have more than one home
– My family will always be my number one priority
– Contrary to my initial thoughts, Texans do not go to school on horses
– Accidents happen and people make mistakes
– Don’t be afraid to fall in love with as many things as possible
– Be kind to everyone
– Don’t think about the “what ifs” as much
– Never lose your sense of faith
– Dogs are the best healers
– Money doesn’t buy happiness
– Don’t be afraid to fail
– You are the only one who can measure your personal success
– Let it go. Just let it go.
– Love conquers all.
– Always believe that the best is yet to come
With that being said, if I was to start a happiness project I think I know the twelve things I would focus on.
1. God- have faith and create a stronger relationship with God.
2. Family- always the number one priority- keep it that way
3. Love- work each day to make this a better relationship and more amazing than it already is. Learn new things about him and love him more each day
4. Friends- make an effort to spend more time with friends
5. Mindfulness- learn to be mindful of not only others but also, myself. One of the most important relationships is the one you have with yourself
6. Patience- a flaw that I know I need to work on. Be patient and kind. Apparently it’s a virtue…
7. Work- be happy where I work. It’s something I do every day. I deserve to like what I am doing
8. Contribution- give back to others
9. Financial organization- I want to be more aware of the money I’m spending and the money I’m saving. Being financially- savvy never hurt anyone
10. Self-educate- there is always more to be learned
11. Explore- see what the world has to offer. Explore new options, hobbies, interests, destinations, recipes and whatever else I want
12. Willingness- be willing to try new things. Be willing to fail. Be willing to be spontaneous. Be willing… To try.
So what do you all think? Am I crazy? Have any of you ever tried or completed a happiness project?! I’d love to hear your input!!
Have a happy Wednesday!!