The Happiness Project
What have you done today that made you happy?
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, is a 12-month experiment the author designed to make herself happier. Throughout the year she focuses on the things and people in life that matter the most to her.
To be clear, Rubin wasn’t unhappy. She just wanted to do a better job appreciating her life. Couldn’t we all stand to show more gratitude for the people and blessings (both big and small) that we enjoy? I know I could. The Happiness Project helped me see some areas where I could do more to make my experiences “brighter.”
Rubin is a woman after my own heart. Her book is organized by monthly topics with subtitles. Her organization alone makes me happy! Each month Rubin pursues an area in her life she feels could use work. Not all of the chapters were compelling to me. This is, after all, the story of her personal journey, but there were still a lot of universal lessons. So I chose to focus on three chapters:
January // Boost Energy
June // Make Time for Friends
November // Keep a Contented Heart
To boost energy Rubin suggests completing five tasks within the month, going to bed earlier; exercising more frequently; decluttering, completing a nagging task and acting more energetic.
I absolutely love to get rid of things—done! I excel at sleeping and I exercise fairly regularly. Check and check.
But I tend to procrastinate when a task annoys or daunts me. Don’t we all? When I put something off over and over again, it weighs on me and distracts me from more enjoyable activities. At work, we refer to this awful nagging task as a frog. The mantra “Eat the frog first” means you should do the most difficult task first. For me, making appointments are a frog. I just really hate calling the doctor’s office—even though I need to do it. One morning I set aside time to make several appointments at once. I felt like a new woman! No more anxiety over avoiding my least-favorite chore.
Make Time For Friends
This chapter urges us to focus on remembering birthdays, being generous, showing up, not gossiping, and making three new friends. After a long week at work, I have been known to bail out on plans with friends. Yes, an under-the-covers Netflix binge is wonderful, but so is truly connecting with real live people. When I rally and make the effort to go out with friends, I end up feeling much more energized and—wouldn’t you know it?—happier. Boy, this author really knows her stuff.
Keep A Contented Heart
Sometimes we get so bogged down in all that is going wrong in our lives that we fail to observe everything that is going well. Rubin encourages us to use good manners, give positive reviews, and laugh. Simply saying “Please” or “Thank you,” or sharing a kind and thoughtful word can change someone’s day. And that kind of power makes you happier in return. It's a win-win.
The Happiness Project opens with a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty to be happy.” That is, in a nutshell, the lesson of this book. By describing her journey to a more fulfilled and contented life, she encourages us to join her. So ask yourself, what have you done today that made you happy?
A count down to a new year is upon us. Make 2017 your Happiness Project.