Right after Christmas 2011, I bought a book called the Happiness Project. I should admit a secret here that I hadn’t been reading in over a year. For someone that has read books like it was breathing oxygen since the age of 4, not reading had made me quite uncomfortable. Exploring my trouble with reading will have to be saved for another post, but in March – I finally picked up the book and read. This book is not meant for depressed or otherwise sad people, though personally as a depressed person I found it to be helpful. It was written as one generally happy woman’s experiment to bring even more happiness into her life. The subtitle reads: “Why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun”.
The author, Gretchen Rubin, has a wonderful site about the book itself and then another to help you along with your own project. I’ve decided to work mine here because I want to delve deeper into happiness being separate from mental health issue. Since I cycle in and out so frequently, I think it will make for a great experiment. I loved this book so much because I was able to relate to the author in, what were to me, unique ways.
What I took from the book was that you could break down your resolutions for life improvement into smaller bits and spread them over the course of a year. If you are a regular reader here, you may remember how much I love approaching things with a *baby step* mentality. So, this setup was exciting to me.
Before you create your year of resolutions, there needs to be a few guidelines – words to live by – or in other words, commandments. It took me a couple of days to come up with my list and I did borrow a few from the author, but it is complete. That is what I’m sharing with you today:
My Happiness Project’s 12 Commandments:
- Be Melissa. To be true to my resolutions, I can’t be filtering everything I do and say. I give myself permission to be me.
- Let it go. Yes, my past is a big part of my life and always will be, but it doesn’t have to be at the forefront all the time. It is okay to let it go.
- Act the way I want to feel. This is my most favorite phrase from the entire book. It will not always be in my control, but when it is ….
- Do it now. Okay, I know some procrastinators who think they’ve got it bad, but I truly am the Queen of Procrastination and it must stop.
- Enjoy the moments. Oftentimes I will find myself multitasking to an extreme. This commandment reminds to to stop, breathe and enjoy.
- Forgive myself. I am hyper aware of each mistake I make and every flaw I possess. Forgiveness is my word of the year and I need to practice it on myself as much as on anyone else.
- Celebrate love. To be honest, I think I’m already pretty good at this, but it would be wonderful to take it to a higher level.
- Question truth. It is interesting to learn, as I get older, that what I perceive to be my own personal truths are sometimes only on the surface. I must dig deeper and keep asking: “Is this true?”
- Create with freedom. There is a tendency as a writer to have stories to share, but to keep quiet as some of the lessons come from personal experience. The idea of making other people uncomfortable doesn’t sit well with me. I want to move past that and allow myself to create with more freedom.
- Play and Smile. Whether it is getting down on the floor to play with the kids or with a Photoshop tutorial, I could do with a little more play.
- My body has a future. I don’t hide on here that I have issues with my weight. I need to keep this body around to experience as much life as possible and that means living a healthier lifestyle.
- Remember that I become their inner voice. I read this recently and fell in love with its truth. Our voices as parents becomes the inner voice our children will have with them for the rest of their lives. Even in the heat of the moment, words matter and are sometimes never forgotten.
The next step is to create a resolution theme for each month and break those down in baby steps. I have a start date of September 1st in mind, so I hope to be posting about the resolutions next week.
Have you done your own Happiness Project? I would love to hear about it!
xoxo ~ Melissa