The Happiness Project: What Worked For Me

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.

lowex

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. 

journal

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

diorama4

  • 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.

todo

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. 

Like this lion, I was high on life
Like this jazzy lion, I was high on life

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.

judging

 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.

sarcasm

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 Simple Life BreezyK Edition? I'm just brainstorming here..
The Simple Life BreezyK Edition? I’m just brainstorming here..

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).

tree

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.

deep

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.

Too lazy to make this entirely accurate.
Intellectual Dachshund Says: Happiness depends upon ourselves.

Easy Aristotle-  it’s a paperback, not ancient Greek philosophy.

Question of the Day: Do you have any tips to stay happy?

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38 thoughts on “The Happiness Project: What Worked For Me

Add yours

  1. Spending some time with old people is a good way to stay happy. They usually have excellent retrospectives on life, people and the world at large. Plus, they remind you that the sky probably isn’t going to fall in, even if it feels that way. “Old” is a relative term, as I write this I’m thinking of my friend’s ninety-year-old grandmother, but depending on their attitude, anyone 40 and up could qualify.

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  2. Love the one-a-day happy moment idea. I’ve done the 5 things and it got a little cumbersome! My happiest moment yesterday? Learning that if you double click a certain line/bar in Excel, it will open up the cell to accommodate all the text. Really, not kidding! 😉

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  3. I would like to take that sarcasm detector and make it into a real thing then surgically implant it into some people(with a certified doctor of course) I know that have no idea when I am being sarcastic. If that were possible, I wouldn’t have to be so careful about being sarcastic like 95% of the time.

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  4. Great thoughts. Your description of yourself sounds like you are describing me five years ago. Very much the same. Happiness is not something that happens to you it is a feeling from inside you. How do you nurture it? By what you focus your thought on. You can’t just think happy good thoughts all the time, that is unrealistic, and people are always going to push your buttons. Yet, you can surprisingly let those thoughts go relatively quickly and focus on something else that is more positive in your life. That is one man’s opinion. 🙂 What do you do to be happier?

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    1. I think you’re right on about it coming from inside you- lately I’ve been starting each day thinking “Today I am going to be happy”. Whenever I get stressed or frustrated, I try to repeat it. Doesn’t always work but its starting to help!

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  5. I could go on and on about the awesomeness of this post, but, I’m too busy trying to be Happy. 🙂

    I will, however, thank your for the answer to everything, “42”… that’s now pretty much going to be my standard answer to any question.

    And, re: the final question, about tips to be happy. I have just one: alcohol. It makes everything better, and reduces one’s stress tremendously.

    Though, being here in Colorado where marijuana is now reasonably legal, I should perhaps investigate the happiness potential of that.

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  6. Welcome to the club of sarcasm! I’ve just started to read the Fuck it Theraphy, which suppose to make me feel better by the time I finish reading it. Also doing some meditation (yes, I confess, I have an Oprah side as well), and if nothing works I still have my medication… I was trying so hard to be happy that I got depressed… So, to answer your question my best tip us just to let it happen, let it flow (still work in progress)…

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      1. Nope, no koans, just casual old school meditation. Here’s the book: John C Parkin: f**k it therapy – the profane way to profound happiness
        Enjoy, and please write a post about it 🙂

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  7. I’m glad you hear you got something out of the Happiness Project. I have to confirm the “nagging project” thing. Boy, once you get one of those out of your hair you feel like a million bucks. Keep it up!

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  8. “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.”
    OMG OMG OMG you just described my ultimate path to nirvana. I LOVE GOLD STARS. I am DEFINITELY getting this book.

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