My Happiness Project

I’m in the middle of working on my own Happiness Project, based on the book titled (what else?), “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.  While I didn’t find the book a FANTASTIC read, I really loved the concept of making yourself happy by setting monthly topics and goals.

I spent those lazy weeks between Christmas and New Years working on my Happiness schedule for 2014.  I thought a lot about areas of my life where I was happy, but could be happier.  And I thought about some areas of my life that I thought were holding me back from happiness.  Once I came up with those areas, they became my monthly topics.  Then came the dirty work.  I had to come up with 3-4 achievable and measurable goals for each month that I could work towards within that topic.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be!  Measuring happiness is hard.  Some people say it shouldn’t be measured.  That we should just BE happy.  But that doesn’t really work in my weird mind.  I like goals.  I would best with deadlines and to-do lists.  The problem for me was trying to determine what exactly would help me achieve all these random topics I had chosen.  For example, I want a month of saying YES more.  Sounds great, right?  But what exactly was I going to say yes to?  And how would I know when I’d achieved it?

Tricky.  Very tricky.

After a few weeks and a few hundred drafts, here is my Happiness Project for 2014:

January:  MORE SLEEP

  1. 9:30pm bedtime
  2. Establish a bedtime routine
  3. No cell phone, computer, or iPad after 8:00pm
  4. Start blogging in the mornings and weekends only

February:  DIET (oy.)

  1. No sweets (dessert, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.)
  2. Fruits and veggies ONLY for snacks
  3. Smoothies for breakfast
  4. Take a daily multivitamin

March:  EXERCISE (for the record, I broke these first three down into separate months because I knew if I tried to do sleep, diet, and exercise all together, I would be overwhelmed and just quit)

  1. Run at least 3 times a week
  2. Start yoga classes regularly
  3. Walk the dogs every day

April:  FRIENDSHIP (this is an area I am terrible in…)

  1. Listen more.  Talk less.
  2. Be there
  3. Remember the details (birthdays, milestones, major life events, etc.)

May:  PROCRASTINATION (I am really bad at putting routine things off.  Doctors appointments, hair appointments, dentist appointments…)

  1. Make all doctors appointments for the year for the entire family
  2. Add Gracie to dental insurance.
  3. Order new dental and medical insurance cards
  4. Begin Christmas shopping

June:  YES!  (This is the month to ask me to do things.)

    1. Say yes whenever possible to the kids.
    2. Say yes whenever possible to Chris.
    3. Say yes whenever possible to family.
    4. Say yes whenever possible to friends.

photo 5

July:  BLOG

    1. Update site theme
    2. Redo “About” page
    3. Blog five times a week (gulp!)
    4. Take DSL pictures daily

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August:  REDUCE

  1. Clean out basement
  2. Clean all hallway closets
  3. Have a yard sale
  4. Spend less

September:  TRADITIONS (I am starting to get worried that my kids aren’t going to grow up with any traditions.  I have so many fond memories of my own childhood traditions, and I want that for my kids but I don’t always have the follow-through to create them for my family.)

  1. Order Christmas jammies for the kids
  2. Establish a “back to school” tradition
  3. Establish a Thanksgiving tradition
  4. Order Halloween costumes

October:  PASSIONS

  1. Start a book club
  2. Make out birthday cards a year ahead (I love sending mail – always have, always will!)
  3. ?

November:  KINDNESS

  1. Schedule a family volunteering activity
  2. 12 acts of random kindness (one for each month of my Happiness Project)
  3. ?

December:  REFLECTION

So far, my biggest problem has been wanting to jump way ahead in my plan.  I’m so excited for certain goals.  Like, every time I pass my hall closets, I want to dive into them and start cleaning crap out.  But I have to remind myself to slow down.  I’m very much a firework when it comes to activities and projects.  I burst with excitement and motivation, but then I burn out quickly if I overdo it.  So, I keep reminding myself to slow my pace.  True, long-lasting happiness doesn’t come overnight.  The project is not about making myself happy TODAY (though, that is a huge part of it).  It’s more about learning to live a happier life, and that means I need to slow down and enjoy my happiness one step at a time.

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My January goals have been hit and miss.  The 9:30 bedtime thing is wigging me out.  My body doesn’t know WHAT is going on.  I have been getting eight hours of sleep most night, and I normally get much less.  SIGNIFICANTLY less.  So much less I’m embarrassed to admit it.  But with all this sleep now, I am actually MORE tired than before.  My doctor said that can happen after periods (well, years, for me) of not sleeping well.  Once your body gets a good amount of sleep, it starts craving more and so you can actually become more tired at first.  That is definitely happening to me.  Though, I’m also wondering if I’m getting too much sleep.  I know that can make you tired, too.  I’ve decided to keep with the 9:30 bedtime thing until the end of January, just like my goal says.  At that point, if my body hasn’t adjusted, then I’ll know it’s because I’m getting too much sleep and I can dial it back to 10:00 or 10:30.

The bedtime routine, though, is AWESOME.  I fall asleep so much better now, and I know that’s partly because I feel so fresh and relaxed when I go to bed.  I’m brushing my teeth, washing my face, moisturizing, and using wrinkle cream (waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!).  I wake up feeling so fresh faced!  But, again, it’s not perfect because now that I wake up with no make up residue on my face, you can really see the bags under my eyes in the mornings now!

So, basically, I’m more tired and I look like hell this month.  Excellent start to the new year!

Despite these things, I’m forging ahead!  I’ll let you know how things go in the next two weeks.

What about you?  Anyone making big changes in January so far?

 

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21 Thoughts to “My Happiness Project”

  1. What a great idea! Since I cannot sit and think for the life of me all the changes I want to achieve for myself this year I am going to copy yours and adapt. Sorry, you have so many GREAT ideas!
    Sleep more is never overrated!

  2. No sweets during Valentine’s Day month?! You brave lady 😉

  3. I like the idea of breaking down these goals into different months instead of trying to tackle everything all at once! The Happiness Project huh? I may have to check it out!

  4. Ginny

    I am putting it in my planner to request an Atlanta trip in June… 🙂

  5. I started reading this book because of your prior post (I actually paid for the book, which I never do).
    I’m up to April; Im fascinated by the ordinariness of the author’s life and the things that make it her happy and I also like to see how her brain works. I don’t know if I’ll create my own happiness project after completing because I’m not entirely motivated by lists; however I’ve tried to incorporate little things on a day by day basis to increase my happiness. The book also made me realize, I’m pretty happy and that was refreshing.

  6. Jenn V

    Funny, I just quit the gym for the next 3 months in favor of more sleep. Twice a week during the work week I found myself getting 6hrs of sleep and when you are 8 months pregnant this just won’t do. I’ll worry about the gym thing later, for now it’s an earlier bedtime. So I guess my only goal for this year is have a baby & not lose my sanity.

  7. Hilary

    I really liked your idea of picking a word so I have chosen the word “patience” as my goal for 2014. Patience with my kids, husband, friends, family, students (7th graders can REALLY test that) and especially myself. I am currently reading “The Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting” by Holly Whitcomb and reviewing Bible verses that talk about patience. I am stressing less and relaxing more which has been great. I don’t know if I can set goals like you (I just finished my educator goals and I don’t want to look at another objective for a long time) but I might try next month. Best of luck with your happiness project!

  8. Those goals looks really good! I’m actually excited about some of them for you!

  9. Lori M.

    I like the idea of breaking down the goals into different months. I try to go all out at once and end up quitting after the first week! I once read that to determine the hours of sleep your body needs you should go to bed when you’re sleepy and then allow your body to wake up naturally without out an alarm (maybe a weekend when the kids are at your mom’s house). Count the number of hours you slept and that should be how much your body needs (or so they say!).

  10. Agreed with you on the book…loved the concept, was all ish on the book itself. I was thinking though, maybe when you kick your exercise plan into action, the more sleep (9:30 bedtime) will work itself out?? If you are waking up a bit earlier to get your run/yoga/whatev in, the adjustment may really be awesome for you! Good luck and keep us posted!

  11. Wow that is awesome!! I wouldn’t even know where to start with that but your list looks awesome!

    My goal is to move forward with our “eating whole food” mission. We started out small last year and month by month have increased our whole food meals and decreased our processed food. I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my energy and a decrease in my weight (can I get an amen!). Recently I’ve started making my “green” smoothies and meal planning more for dinner.

    But sleep….yeah I could definitely use more of that.

  12. Love this! I know you didn’t ask for my 2 cents, but I would add Gracie to your dental insurance ASAP – send me the form, I’ll fill it out for you! 🙂 I am so type A I could not delay this. I feel like if they have teeth (or mouths even) you should get them on your insurance. Not sure about yours but mine is like $15 a month! Sorry about the lecture 🙂 love your blog.

  13. kat

    LOVe almost every one of these. Except February. That is like the opposite of happiness. LOL

  14. jenny-bird

    So you did have good pictures from the beach! I resolve to be more fit this year. I joined my local Y and am trying to go to group exercises 3 to 4 times per week. My goal is to bike the Chain of Lakes byway district by the end of May. 🙂

  15. Angel

    Simply adore your blog n especially like the happiness project. My concern is about the halloween costumes seeing as the holiday celebrates the god of death ( Sam Hain something?)

  16. Vanessa

    I love your blog and I’ve been reading for years. I may have to try to join you on some goals (like clean out closets). I’m still waiting to get the Happiness book from my library. I did start a book club last year, and surprisingly doesn’t take that much time to organize, we are still figuring things out some, but it’s been fun and I really enjoy being able to talk about a book I’ve finished. You might even consider making a blog post your book club. My goal this year is to complete an Olympic Tri, it’ll be the longest race I’ve done.

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