In “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, Gretchen decides that she wants to be happier. It’s not that Getchen was unhappy in her life. It’s more that she thought she should be happier. She had a great husband and great kids. She had money and her career was on track.
So why was she wasting her years kvetching and grumping at the people around her?
Gretchen decided to embark on The Happiness Project.
Gretchen is an ex-law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and she has a very organized, legalistic mind. She makes a calendar of goals and embarks on a year of increasing her happiness.
The Happiness Project fascinates me.
Gretchen’s story brings up a number of questions which have teased me for years.
What are reasonable expectations for happiness?
How committed are we really to being happy?
And how much of happiness is our circumstances, and how much is our attitude?
Creating Your Happiness Project
Gretchen begins by finding 11 key areas in her life which she wants to improve–marriage, parenthood, friends, eternity, attitude, work, play, passion, energy, money and mindfulness.
If I made my own list, my “Things to Work on to Increase Happiness” list would be: health, spirituality, time to do nothing, creativity, connection with friends, adventure, beautifying my environment, family, prosperity, clothes, nature and love.
What’s your list? What 11 things would you make a commitment to improve if you knew you’d be happier at the end?
Make Your Commitment
Gretchen took her 11 areas to improve and assigned each of them a month in the next year. Each month she set specific goals to improve these areas.
When the new month came, she added to her list until finally, by the 12th month, she was working on the whole picture.
When I think about doing that, I come up with a million excuses why I won’t do it. “It’s too much work.” “I’ll loose interest.” “I don’t have that much extra time.”
But how crazy is that?
Why won’t I commit to myself to work in the areas that I already know would help me be more happy? Even if I’m not more happy at the end of the year, I know I won’t be less happy for working on them.
In my own little mini-Happiness Project, I have been jogging for the last 3 days. This is a minor victory, not only because 3 days is a short time but also because I used to be much more athletic.
But still, I have run 3 days more than I ran the week before. I’m counting it.
I am committed to living a life of abundance and beauty and ease and connection. My commitment must extend farther than just ideas–I need action.
What are your key areas to improve to create an environment fertile for Happiness?
And how committed are you to them?