Six Months of Happiness Project: Part II

posted in: Wholehearted Living | 0

This is part II of my six months of Happiness Project. For part one, in which I covered the first two months (October and November) of my project go here.

Before I delve further into my third month (December), allow me to talk about the themes and action steps which snuck into November.

  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Connecting
  • One Word Journal

Random Acts of Kindness

This action step was not a new one per say but, rather, one that is part of the fiber of my being and also part of our family’s culture.

Connecting

I decided I wanted to become more intentional about connecting with my adult kids who have left the nest. I am still pursuing this step and loving it.

One Word Journal

This action step is still going strong. I faithfully record what we do each day unless it is something repetitive and boring such as “stayed home, did laundry, and made dental appointments.” I don’t record daily life events.

 

 

Six Months of Happiness Project: Part II

Month Three: December

There were five themes in December:

  1. Friends
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Gratitude
  4. Learn something new
  5. Meditation

As I am reviewing my themes and actions steps, I can now see so clearly I went too fast! No wonder I felt the need to take a break after six months to recap and regroup.

What was I thinking?

I was so eager to make positive changes, I threw caution and wisdom to the wind.

Slow and steady wins the race!

Friends

  1. Take a friend to lunch
  2. Christmas Cards
Take a Friend to Lunch

This action was not successful in part because of the timing (December is a busy month) and in part because I was not extremely motivated. I was still unclear about my goals when it came to friendship.

Christmas Cards

Before December 2017, I had not sent out Christmas cards in years. It was a rebellious act on my part — or maybe, an authentic one. For years, I received cards from people I never hear from at any other time. Moreover, I felt obligated to send cards in return.

This felt fake.

So, I stopped. Cold. For years.

Last year, I felt it was time to start anew and therefore, I did.

It was quite satisfying to do something because I wanted to rather than because I felt obligated.

I plan to continue this year – 2018.

Forgiveness

Studying — and then, practicing forgiveness – is cathartic. However, it is not easy. Yet, I discovered a valuable lesson. Withholding forgiveness does not change the wrong – real or perceived —  in any way.

What is, is.

Anger and hurt hang precariously over our head like a sword ready to pierce us.

Double whammy.

We are hurt and then we suffer.

Hurting happens.

Suffering is optional.

So, I have chosen to forgive.

Sometimes — in truth, often — forgiveness is an act I must practice over and over before anger and the “right” to feel hurt — like a boa constrictor — release their hold.

Realizing that forgiveness is an act of self-care and self-love has made the process easier. I may not control the hurt nor the behaviors of others. Nevertheless, it is within my power to forgive and let myself be free.

Erroneously, we believe forgiveness is freedom — as in a clean slate — for those who have wronged us. It is not so.  Rather, forgiveness releases the bonds which hold us prisoner. The deeds of another are still on their own head until they deal with them. We cannot release someone from the consequences of their deeds nor their words. They must do their own work. IF, they are so inclined.

While an apology would be a slice of heaven, don’t hold your breath. Few are the individuals who can “eat dirt” and not only admit a wrong but additionally, ask for absolution.

Please, do yourself a favor. Forgive and fly.

Gratitude

I am still keeping a gratitude journal although not a daily one. I practice gratitude whether I write in a journal or not. It is imperative to my happiness that I may be able to count my blessings and choose to see the cup half full.

This desire in no way means, I never feel ungrateful. I wish.

I am very human…and yes, sometimes this humanness shows itself in less than savory behaviors. I will leave this subject at that.

Learn Something New

The “something new” was ASL – American Sign Language. I did well at first and even looked for some classes near me. At this juncture, the only classes I have found are at the University or the community college. Neither appeals to me. I don’t want to take a class for credit as the prospect feels overwhelming.

I found a class which suited my needs but the teacher either retired or was sick, I can’t recall. Either way, no teacher. Therefore, no class.

A bummer to be sure.

Instead, I decided to brush up on my Spanish beginniing in April.

¿Cómo está ústed?

Meditation

Aside from walking meditation which is a success, sitting meditation is so far a dud — or more optimistically — a goal.

My December Bleeding Themes

For more information on bleeding themes read this post.

Budgeting

I wanted to start the new year off right and redo my budget. This action step is still going well.

Words of Praise

You can read about this action step here.

This action step is very hard for me because words are my love language. In time, without words, I wilt like a thirsty plant.

While an individual should do right because it is the right thing to do and not to receive praise, I have also come to the conclusion that words are not an option for me but rather a need.

I am trying to learn how to strike the proper balance where I am not actively trying to earn Gold Stars but I nevertheless get my need met.

Teaching Empathy

Abe (my special needs child) still struggles with empathy. He understands pain and hurt feelings but can’t seem to place himself in the shoes of someone else. While his needs matter, yours needs…not so much.

I must admit this lack of compassion and empathy scares me a bit. He is squarely the center of his universe.  Everything — and I do mean everything — is filtered through his needs and wants. Altruism does not come naturally if at all. However, benevolence and random acts of kindness are part of our familial culture. Therefore, he is exposed to RAKs on a regular basis. My prayer is that these lessons stick and become integrated into his life.

Foundation

I have always wanted to start a Foundation to help others. I still hold that dream but I have not taken any steps to make it happen yet. I am not quite ready to proceed. So for the time being, having a foundation is put on the back burner.

 

Six Months of Happiness Project

 

Month Four: January

True to my previous streak, I had too many themes on my plate in January as well, three to be exact, with a total of seven — yes, seven — action steps. Insanity.

  1. Marriage
  2. Family
  3. Friends

Marriage

One action step under this category: Do not expect words of praise.

I discussed this action step above in December.

Family

This theme has 4 to 5 action steps:

  • Intend to have a family dinner once per week
  • Keep in touch ~ Write a letter!
  • Plan a craft
  • Go on one special outing
  • Abe: Continue bonding activities as able
Family Dinner

This action step was a dud almost two months in a row. For this reason, in the middle of February, I decided to change the goal from dinner to breakfast. I am happy to report we have been having weekly brunches ever since unless I am out of town.

For us, this has been a fantastic family tradition I plan to continue.

Keep in Touch

I “try” to write to my sons and daughters-in-law regularly especially those who live some distance away and whom I do not get to see regularly. I intend on pursuing this action step.

Plan a Craft

We have done a monthly craft since January. You can read more about it here.

Go on Special Outings

We have also gone on a special outing monthly. Not sure if I can maintain this trend. I intend on continuing as long as I can

Friends

My intent was to write a letter which I did.

My bestie and I have been writing ever since

We both agreed, it is great fun and I love getting some fun mail – as does she.

 

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