March marked six months of my Happiness Project. Upon reaching this anniversary, I felt the need to spend the month of April reviewing all my actions steps before moving forward with my project.
Six Months of Happiness Project: Looking Back
In the beginning — and for maybe the first couple of months — I was content copying the author’s — Gretchen Rubin — project blueprint. I wrote a grocery list of themes and action steps which I attacked with gusto. In hindsight, maybe a little bit too much gusto.
Gretchen Rubin — by her admission — is very organized and methodical. She thrives in this environment.
I — on the other hand — am not and do not.
Moreover, while Gretchen was faithfully keeping a monthly resolution chart, I was resistant to it as I found this concept cumbersome.
My method is more shall we say…flowy?
Don’t get me wrong I do like being organized. However, not in a rigid way. With me, rigidity tends to bring out rebellion. Making bold checkmarks on a resolution chart reminds me of a competition rather than trying to find out what genuinely brings me joy and happiness.
Themes and Action Steps
My themes are varied.
Some are broad and deep while others are small and a tad superficial. Other themes are not only non-negotiable but also an intrinsic part of my happiness and the fiber of my very being — like marriage and kids. While yet others are more laid back and fall into the category of “something-I-want-to-try-out-at-some-point.”
Some actions steps are fancifully added mid-month solely because the time seems ripe for a new undertaking.
Additionally, continually adding monthly action steps can become burdensome when — like most of us — I already have a full — if not overfull — plate.
This Happiness Project is supposed to be a discovering journey into happiness, joy, and contentment. It is NOT supposed to be a race nor a contest.
Maybe some action steps are meant to be given up rather than kept. Just because I pledge to try some new action steps doesn’t infer I can’t review them at some point. Disregarding responsibilities which no longer — or don’t — serve me should be part of a Happiness Project.
Allow me to share the results of this brainstorming-reviewing.
Six Months of Happiness Project
Month One: October
For the month of October, I had selected the theme of “energy.” This theme encompassed wellness, clutter-free environment, and smart use of time.
Looking back, this theme included too many action steps during the course of one month.
Lesson learned: Take smaller steps. A Happiness Project is not a contest. For me, this endeavor is not a one-year commitment but rather a lifelong one. Smaller bites are easier to chew and less likely to give us a stomachache no?
There were three action steps under this category:
Sleep was certainly my nemesis at the beginning of this project. I have become much more mindful of my sleep’s quantity and quality. Nevertheless, to say that I faithfully hit the hay by 9 pm would be a gross lie. Even though I now prefer to go to bed early as well as wake early (which is a total switch), I don’t always retire early. I still battle my tendency to stay up longer than I should on occasion.
Overall, I am pleased with my progress and my new awareness.
I do plan to write a post at some point about my reasons for giving up diets. However, this post is not the time nor the place for me to dive into this heavy subject.
I am — in general — happy with the way I nourish my body.
Is my diet “perfect?”
Furthermore, I believe there is no such thing as a perfect diet. Diets — as in “various way to eat” not weight loss programs — should be as varied as there are human beings.
I have entered in a partnership with my body which is at times a bit persnickety — as all relationships are. Nevertheless, I have a much healthier view of food as well as of my body in relation to food. I prefer to nourish myself from nutrient-rich, clean, wholesome foods because I physically and emotionally feel better when I eat well.
Nevertheless, I still have a fixation for whipped cream. I also indulge in not so healthy options on occasion and I give myself permission to do.
Do I ever feel guilty?
Sadly, yes. However, I aim to rid myself of any guilt as I firmly believe that unhealthy beliefs and feelings are far more detrimental to my health than some occasional junk food.
Guilt and self-loathing are corrosive emotions which pollute body, mind, and spirit. Ditto for dogmatic diets and the accompanying acerbic comments of their devotees. All the “health” food in the world cannot easily combat the damage of such prejudicial views.
I am so excited to report that as my health has greatly improved I am active almost every day. As a matter of fact, I prefer to move daily in some way.
Movement has, therefore, become a habit I have genuinely embraced and which I enjoy.
I am convinced that clutter is a breathing living entity — as is laundry. I sometimes have an inkling to name both the clutter and the laundry as bona fide — although pesky — family members. But, I digress.
This action step is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have managed the office disarray in much more conducive ways. The domestic clutter is another beast entirely.
With a husband and six kiddos still at home, clutter is part of life — at the very least, my life. I can either be grumpy and have a clean home or I can relax and accept a certain amount of disarray. Grumpy does not equate happy in my world. Therefore, I have made peace — on most days — that my home will not be showroom ready on a daily basis. My decor is more reminiscent to “well lived in with a smidgeon of messiness.”
Folded laundry is gracing the back of my couch as I type, each pile waiting for its respective owner. While the dishes are done, the remnant of my earlier cleaning spree can be seen on our dining room table. On the other hand, my master bedroom and bath are spotless.
I plan to try to put each room on a cleaning rotation. I also plan to deep clean on a few times a year as in go through every nook and cranny and such. By the way, if you know what a cranny is, enlighten me.
We shall see if these new action steps make my “clutter” more manageable and me — as a result — happier.
My paper clutter is almost non-existent which is a huge victory for me. Yeah, me. Allow me a minute while I pat myself on the back.
Smart Use of Time
I am not as efficient as I would like to be in this area. But, I am learning. I am still very fond of two apps -Todoist and Evernote – which I use regularly.
My time spent on social media is under control.
I still am wasteful of time on occasion and I continue to try the perfect balance which works for me and my family, Maybe I am looking for a panacea.
Overall, mindfulness has made the biggest difference in my happiness. Awareness is a potent game changer.
Month Two: November
- True Love
True love had three action steps:
- Say yes
- Date like in the beginning
- Give words of praise and gratefulness
This action step was about confronting my inner drab head-on especially when it came to my marriage. Over the years, I said no way too often for no good reason at all. I wanted to shake the humdrum out of my life!
Life is too short to be dull.
I have been wildly successful in this undertaking and it has made me very happy!
Date Like the Beginning
It has been a marvelous and beneficial action step!
Give Words of Praise and Gratefulness
Hubs makes it easy to praise and be grateful without much effort at all.
Only one action step was in this theme: have more fun. We have indeed have had more fun, especially with my ten-year-old twins. The teens are a bit more complicated especially my sons since we do not necessarily hold the same interests.
I make sure to daily tell them I love them and touch them. Hugs are very powerful.
My kids are amazing beings and I am blessed to know them.
Abe is my special needs child and I am beyond excited to report that even though the progress is sloth-style, there are still some gains. I’ll take it.
There were three action steps under this category (what was I thinking tackling so many action steps at once?):
- Keep a log of my likes
- Take ten
Keep a Log of my Likes
I wanted to figure out what activities nourish and refresh me. When it came to my likes, I was not totally in the dark. However, on a daily basis, I paid little attention to nourish myself. Usually, the subject came up when I was close to a burnout. Needless to say, this method is less than desirable nor is it healthy.
Over time (as in six months into my project), I realized that Pinterest was literally a huge help with this action step. My boards are reminders of things which are important to me. Or fun. Or activities which interest me. My boards are a catalog of sorts which has proven very constructive.
For instance, I have boards of pictures which remind me of my childhood such as the board of my hometown or one of my favorite French actor. Other boards are collections which bring me joy such as nature, beautiful places, or people from around the world. I have many boards for recipes or crafts which I enjoy such as knitting or crocheting. I won’t bore you with more of my many Pinterest boards. I think you get the idea.
I was more faithful at taking a breather mid-day at the beginning of my project. I have neglected to do as of late.
On a more positive note, I have found that a walk or sitting on the porch with a cup of tea is an effective, practical, and genuine way for me to recharge my batteries.
My goal was to take some time once per month for some self-care. I have not done so every month. Nevertheless, it was always worth it when I did. Therefore, I must become more mindful about this action step and make it a priority. Self-care enables me to be more effective in caring for all of my other responsibilities. Self-nourishment is a must and I cannot take it lightly.