In her book The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin starts by sharing her twelve Happiness Project commandments.
On the other hand, I started my project without writing mine beforehand—although I had a vague idea of what they might be. I still wanted to sit with my commandment for a while.
In hindsight, I am not entirely sure what I was pondering. I believe it was a case of “I’ll know it when I see it“—or more aptly, I will know it when I feel it.
At first, I was under the impression I would have ten commandments, not twelve. After all, if the number ten was picked by God himself, it should work for me.
I went from eight to ten to fifteen!
My Happiness Project Commandments
I quickly noticed that meanwhile, I had labeled some commandments differently, a few meant basically the same thing using different verbiage. I could, therefore, combine them.
At this very moment, I have no idea how many commandments I have.
How is that for lack of preparation?
My notebook has so many notes, highlight, and marks, I cannot possibly count my commandments.
When I write them below, this will be a surprise for all of us.
What is a commandment?
According to Merriam-Webster, a commandment is:
- The act or power of commanding
- Something that is commanded; especially: one of the biblical Ten Commandments
I am not entirely sure I like these definitions. Commandment sounds harsh, and it implies being “commanded” by someone else. My commandments are self-appointed.
I decided to research some synonyms of commandment: edict and precept came up. I like the word “precept.”
Again, according to Merriam-Webster, precept means:
- A command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
- An order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official
I favor the first definition for the very reason I see my “commandments” as self-guided principles. I have adopted them for guidance in my life journey and more specifically, on my Happiness Project journey.
Gretchen’s Twelve Commandments
Out of curiosity, if you want to know Mrs. Rubin’s “precepts,” I list them below:
- Be Gretchen.
- Let it go.
- Act the way I want to feel.
- Do it now.
- Be polite and be fair.
- Enjoy the process.
- Spend out.
- Identify the problem.
- Lighten up.
- Do what ought to be done.
- No calculation.
- There is only love.
The Big Unveiling
Drum roll, please. Allow me to share my precepts:
- Be authentic ~ Be Florence
- Give grace and be kind ~ Live by the Golden rule
- Be present ~ Say yes
- Let it go!
- Do it now
- Have fun! ~ Smile
- Identify the problem
- Enjoy the process
- Find the beautiful pieces ~ Find joy
- Only love
What do you know?
By combining the precepts I found redundant, I came up with ten commandments after all.
What Does this Mean?
No one can know for certain what the commandments Gretchen Rubin chose for herself meant to her. I assume she intended to use them as guideposts along her Happiness Project journey. which is the same intent I have for mine.
From a very young age, I yearned to live an authentic life. More importantly, I wanted to BE authentic.
In all honesty, it’s not always easy especially when you feel a little odd, or when you realize you are indeed bizarre. Moreover, on occasion, certain individuals can make you feel “less,” or better stated I feel “less than” around certain persons.
I want to be me without any apologies.
Give Grace and Be Kind
This commandment is easy, treat others as you would like them to treat you. A simple saying I already strive to practice on a daily basis. I don’t always succeed. Despite this fact, it is still an excellent precept to follow.
I readily travel between the past and shoot ahead to the future which changes nothing to my immediate situation although this last statement is a lie. Cruising between past and future robs me of my now, and that stinks. I am well aware the past will not change no matter what my wishes may be, and the future is not yet here, so why bother? Live in the now.
Let It Go!
It is so easy to hold on to negative feelings, to the wrong done to us, to words spoken out of turn, or evil words meant to hurt. I gain nothing by holding on to any of it. Filing these memories for later retrieval—consciously or unconsciously—robs me of peace now. So let it go woman…in the long run, it matters little anyway.
Do It Now
Do you know how much time I wasted filling away piles of paper which would have taken less than one minute had I done it now? Ditto with clothes discarded on THE chair before bed instead of being put away.
If it takes me less than a minute to do a task, my motto is “do it now!”
Life is short, and it does go by faster as you age. I want to enjoy whatever time I have left, and I want to walk around smiling! I often say “no” to fun opportunities for absolutely no good reason. Instead, I think it is laziness or because it might mess with my—dull—routine.
I say YES to living fully and joyfully.
Identify the Problem
Rather than lamenting an unpleasant situation, a behavior which solves absolutely nothing, what about identifying the problem and then, proceed to find a solution?
Enjoy the Process
Life is indeed a journey. It is similar to a lengthy car ride.
You can either do what any small child worthy of the name does on any trip—great or small—bellowing at regular interval from the back sit in a whiny voice: “are we there yet?‘
OR instead, you can enjoy the unfolding of the journey.
Get out of the car for a pit stop, to eat a bite, or just to enjoy the scenery. Then, get back on the road and move forward.
I want to relish the process because I won’t be traveling this section of the road ever again.
There are no U-turns in life. The best you can hope for is a fork in the road.
Find the Beautiful Pieces
I want to find the nuggets of joy around me. Even in crummy circumstances, we can usually find beauty.
I have seen beautiful wildflowers thrive in sidewalk cracks, a beautiful mural in a less than savory part of town. Joy is there…I want to take the time to find it, and when seen, savor it.
In the end, I want the people I love most to KNOW I love them.
No doubt left.
I also want to love and accept myself entirely, and when my day comes, I want people to remember the love I gave and sowed.
I want THIS to be my legacy.
What are your precepts?