So now that I’ve successfully lowered the bar by telling you all about my failed Happiness Project experiments, I figured I’d let you in on some of the ones I didn’t bomb quite so hard on.
So let’s get to it:,
Breezyk’s Happiness Project [Relative] Success Stories
1. Keep A One-Line Happiness Journal
“The Days Are Long, but the Years Are Short” is just one of the many “universal truths” Rubin espouses in her book- the idea being that if we’re not careful, life could simply pass us by. In order to hang onto our happy memories, Rubin recommends writing them down. This could take the form of a full-fledged gratitude journal, or even a one-sentence notebook.
Since the idea of a “gratitude journal” seemed a little too Oprah’s Angel Network-y for me, I chose the latter.
For two weeks, I wrote down the happiest moment of each day. And because I have no shame left at all (at least according to my mother), I will share some of them with you:
- Sunday: Watching Real Housewives of Vancouver with my friend Maggie
- Tuesday: Discovering Marshmallow Peep Dioramas are a real thing
- Wednesday: Making a really great joke about Princess Leia
- Thursday: Talking to my sister on the phone about Big Brother Canada (Go Jillian!!)
- Saturday: Spending the morning in bed reading and listening to music
At first glance, this list might seem to suggest that I am an incredibly shallow and immature individual. And that’s not totally wrong. But if you read between the lines, you start to get a sense of the things that are really important to me: friends, family, blogging, music, humor, etc.
I think the one-line happiness journal is a worthwhile exercise not only because it helps you to reflect on the day and feel grateful for the moments you experienced, but because identifying the things that bring you happiness is the first step towards achieving it. Plus, now I can totally use this to justify watching more reality TV. Everybody wins!!!!!
2. Tackle a Nagging Task
According to Rubin, “nagging tasks” (i.e. items on your to-do list you never seem to get around to) can be a huge source of stress and a drain on your mental energy. Tackling these tasks can provide an immediate energy boost and help to lighten your overall mood.
Given that I’m pretty
lazy busy, I seem to have a lot of “nagging tasks” at any given time – filing documents, picking up dry-cleaning, answering my fan mail, you name it. I decided to tackle one “nagging task” per day- no excuses. It was definitely not easy. I once spent the entire day working up the nerve to make a dentist’s appointment. That said, these tasks usually took less time than I anticipated, and once completed, left me feeling relieved and happier.
3. Cut People Some Slack
If I’m being totally honest, then I have to admit that I am a very critical, often judgmental person.
I’m also a total smart-a$$ and poke fun at people and make sarcastic comments far too often.
Rubin argues that while it is enticing to behave this way (particularly because we, as a society, perceive those who are critical as “smarter” and more attractive) it is not healthy or constructive, and it erodes our happiness.
Reading this made me more aware of the negative things that come out of my mouth on a daily basis. For example, a friend recently told me about a concert she wanted to see, and without thinking, I responded “Ugh, I hate that band”. Why did I feel the need to cut her down and ruin her excitement? It definitely didn’t make me any happier.
I started a mental tally of all the cutting and/or sarcastic remarks I made, and the number was, frankly, terrifying.
So I’ve started making a conscious effort not to be so hard on people. Man, it’s tough though. The lure of the perfect sarcastic remark is often way too hard for me to resist, and I end up being back at square one. But at least I’m conscious of it now. Plus, I see this as more of a long-term project anyway. Like my quest to transition this blog into my own reality show. Check back in 2017.
The resolutions I test-drove over the past few weeks are just a small sampling of Rubin’s entire Happiness Project. She makes dozens of resolutions: some of which I still want to try (i.e. clearing out closets, writing a novel in 30 days), others I will probably never do (hypnosis, meditating on koans).
While I have the utmost respect for Rubin’s mission, I’m not sure that creating a full-fledged “resolutions chart” complete with gold stars, unicorns and positive affirmations is my ultimate path to nirvana.
To paraphrase a very wise man: Maybe happiness doesn’t come from a book. Maybe happiness doesn’t come from a store. Maybe happiness means just a little bit more.
Or, maybe the answer to life, the universe, everything really is just “42” after all.
So, even though Intellectual Dachshund found this whole thing a little low-brow and beneath him, he still gives The Happiness Project a 3.8 out of a potential 5… himselfs.
Easy Aristotle- it’s a paperback, not ancient Greek philosophy.