Part I covers October and November (2017) and Part II covers December (2017) and January of this year.
Six Months of Happiness Project
The month of February (5th month)
I chose five themes:
- White space
It is so painfully obvious to me now that taking a break to reevaluate was very much needed. It was a wise decision to ensure my future success in this endeavor.
In February, I was fatiguing and I was not having the same success with my themes and action steps as I had previously enjoyed. Ditto in March.
One action step in this theme: be grateful for every act of love.
As is often the case, my husband and I do not share the same love language. I thrive — mainly — on “words of affirmation.” In second place are time, acts of service, and touch. Gifts usually garner a zero or a one.
In the early days of our marriage, my husband’s displays of love did not always register on my radar not because I was uncaring but mainly because I was clueless.
At the end of February, I realized that 1) I most definitely can be grateful and thankful for ALL the displays of love my husband lavishes on me and 2) my need for words of affirmation — and yes, it is a need — cannot be met exclusively by me. While I do not wish to go on a fishing expedidion for words of affirmation, it is nonetheless a need which is imperative to my happiness and which I need help to meet.
How is that for humbling?
Blessedly, I have a mate who knows me well and who loves me enough to desire to meet my needs as I am happy to meet his.
One action step: Stop saying sorry!
Over my many decades on earth, I have come to the realization that self-acceptance does not come easily for many of us. This is especially accurate if acceptance was not freely given when we were children.
I would be delighted to say self-love has always come effortlessly to me. Sadly, this is not the case.
While it is easy for me to encourage others to love themselves, self-love proves much harder to do. Self-acceptance is the chink in my armor. Why do I feel obligated to say “sorry” even when I am not the source of the issue? This is a bad habit which I will endeavor to break.
Although, I acknowledge that saying “sorry” can exhibit a compassionate heart when an individual utters this word from a deep understanding of the sad or painful predicament of another. Or, for a wrong done. Saying sorry from any other place is not okay. Feeling the need to express regret as if for our existence is the sole source of a wrong is not healthy.
This vice has been with me for so long, I don’t even realize I am doing it until AFTER I have uttered the word.
I am happy to report that with mindfulness comes healthier and better fruits.
While I catch myself saying “sorry” on occasion, I am quick to check if the word comes from a place of compassion for another, for a wrong committed, or from a not so nice place. I am learning to care for myself as I would my best friend and really, this work of the soul is worth it.
I discussed this action step — have a family dinner — in part II. In short, dinner became brunch. It is an action step I enjoy and which brings happiness to me and my family.
My sole action step was “make time” to ponder my true longings for this category.
At the end of the month, I arrived at the conclusion that I did not have the time nor the inclination to actively pursue making more friends.
I have “old” — as in not new — friendships which I want to maintain as well as newer ones I am still working on strengthening. For instance, my relationships with my new daughters-in-law.
In addition, I am also a mom, a chauffeur, a writer, etc. In short, I wear what seems like a million different hats. Moreover, I like time with hubs and time alone.
My plate is full!
I am okay and content with the way things are at this juncture.
White space was on the table because after listening to a book by Brené Brown it seemed like a good idea.
In practice, this concept did not work as well — at least by the end of February.
I have a lot of unscheduled time. The only appointments on my calendar are usually dental or orthodontic appointments and the likes. The rest of my tasks – cooking, writing, laundry, etc — are often unscheduled.
This infers that technically, I have a lot of white space.
This is, however, not the case.
My days may not be scheduled, but they are nonetheless very busy.
I still need to schedule some quiet time especially for self-care and to be out enjoying nature.
Since February, I have become more mindful of scheduling nourishing times and this action step is paying off in big and small ways.
The month of March (6th month)
I had three themes for March:
- Wholeheartedness — song and dance
- Work education
Wholeheartedness: Song and Dance
Dr. Bréné Brown’s work has been an inspiration to me and has spurred me to align myself with a wholehearted life.
One of the guideposts of wholeheartedness is the trio of laughter, song, and dance.
I do love to laugh and I have a few favorite clean comedians which make me laugh. Recently, I started to make a playlist on YouTube so that I can revisit my favorite funny clips.
I love dancing although I am not good at it. Which — sorry — does not stop me. If my moves hurt your eyes, look away.
As to music, I love music. It moves my soul.
I have created some playlists as well as opened an account with Pandora.
Laughter, song, and dance: check.
My goal was to start listening to spiritual messages as I was in the habit of doing in a previous life — aka years ago. This action step was a dud.
I was starting to feel overwhelmed with all of my action steps by that point.
My goal was to review and organize my work notes. This action step was also a fail. I have not done one thing in this area.
Six Months of Happiness Project: Extra Action Steps
In April, as if I did not have enough on my plate, I also snuck another action step. Although, admittedly, it was a fun one. I have not bought a magazine in years, decades even. There are two major reasons for this: time and money. However, after reading The Happiness Project in which Gretchen Rubin bought some magazines I was curious.
For months, I resisted the urge to buy a magazine at the checkout counter.
Finally, in April, I gave in, twice.
My conclusion, while it was fun to do something different, I still don’t feel the need to buy a magazine. I don’t have much time to read them and I find them pricey. One was certainly geared toward a younger crowd and I found it a bit crass on occasion. Overall, I give myself permission to buy a magazine if the desire strikes me — although I doubt it will be often or regularly.
Six Months of Happiness Project: Summary
Let me resume the lessons I learned during the first six months of my project:
- Take smaller steps. Slow and steady. DO NOT overextend yourself, it is not a recipe for happiness.
- Mindfulness does bring more happiness.
- Doing for others does bring more happiness.
- Learning to accept, love and care for yourself also bring more happiness.
- Expectations are a joy killer.
- Being present makes us happiest.
Overall, taking account of my successes and failures, I am very pleased with my results and my progress with The Happiness Project.
I do not plan to quit although I do intend to go at a much-reduced speed.