Sunday, April 29, 2012

How are the resolutions coming along?

At our first meeting we used the guide posted to determine our personal resolutions. Because I have been thinking of the project for months, I had a head start on refining ideas. . . or so I thought.  My list is very long but clearly can be tweaked by having a resolution with sub strategies that can baby step me toward the goals. For the first two weeks my resolutions were as follows:
  • Make my bed every day.
  • Do dishes immediately after dinner.
  • 10 minute tidy of the house by everyone just before bed.
  • Plan Meals for the week (goal to eat out less, to eat healthfully, and to spend more time with family in the kitchen).
  • Make a To Do list everyday and mark off items.
  • Buy new clothes.
I'm succeeding and failing. I'm meeting some of the goals, but the bigger motivation has not been clearly defined in my mind. Does it really matter if my bed is made? Not really. What matters is why I set the goal of having my bed made. I need to develop several guiding principles where common tasks get placed under a common principal. Occasionally some of the goals are "one and done" tasks like buying new clothes.

My plan for tweaking my resolutions:
  • Define my guiding principles
  • Make a chart of resolutions, so that I can track daily progress. Every moment is an opportunity to chose to keep things as they are or to make changes. In order to see the successes, I need to track them.
  • Journal about my progress. I need a way to evaluate my thoughts and actions. Maybe some resolutions are not really meaningful to me, but are things I think I should be doing. I can drop those. Maybe some resolutions need to be broken down into small steps. Or maybe, I've mastered a resolution and it's just second nature and no longer needs to be tracked. Also, a resolution may scream to be made once I define what I want to achieve.
  • Report back to the group and listen to their insights about the first 2 weeks.
The one resolution that I have yet to do in the past week is to make a TO DO list. Why is this one so hard for me? I still have time to buy new clothes for me . . . the ones I bought for Gigi do not count ;-). The first four are coming along, but will be easier to follow with that handy dandy TO DO list!

How is your first week going?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Topic 1: Your first set of resolutions

Meeting Guide

Each person identifies three or four resolutions to tackle. The core of a “happiness project” is to...

  • identify elements of your life that you want to change
  • find concrete, measurable resolutions that, if kept, will help you bring about that change
  • hold yourself accountable for keeping your resolutions
  • decide whether you want to adjust, toss, or re-commit to a resolution
One tip: resolutions work best when they’re very specific, so you know whether you’ve kept your resolution or not. Accountability is key!

Less effective:
More effective:
Find more joy in life.
Rent a movie once a week. Make Saturday plans with a friend.
Appreciate the present.
Keep a one-sentence journal.
Be a more loving parent.
Go to sleep by 10:30 p.m. to avoid morning grouchiness.
Lose weight.
No more doughnuts for breakfast. Eat a big salad for lunch.

Resolutions tend to fall in certain major categories. Here are some common resolutions, with a few examples:

  • Attitude: Give positive reviews. Don’t talk about my irritations.
  • Clutter: Put dishes in the dishwasher immediately. Make my bed each morning.
  • Creativity & writing: Write a novel in a month. Keep “morning pages.” Take a photograph each day.
  • Diet, exercise & health: Take a 20-minute walk each day. Eat protein at breakfast. 
  • Family & children: Make my children dissolve in laughter at least once a day. Read a chapter out loud every night.
  • Friends: No gossip. Show up.
  • Fun: Try a new restaurant each time I eat out. Go to a game instead of watching it on TV.
  • Gratitude: In the shower, count my blessings. Sincerely thank two people each day.
  • Helping others: Volunteer at the thrift shop. Sign up for the breast-cancer walk-a-thon.
  • Memories & traditions: Organize all the photos in tidy boxes. Take a 5-minute video of my kids each Sunday night.
  • Mindfulness: Don’t listen to my iPod on the way to work.
  • Money: Pay down twice the minimum on my credit card debt each month. Buy needful things.
  • Relationships & marriage: Don’t expect thanks. Think of small treats. 
  • Religion & spirituality: Read the Bible every day. Meditate each morning.
  • Work: Go to a professional conference. Sign up for training on the new computer program. 

**"Topic 1: Your first set of resolutions" is slightly adapted from Gretchen Rubin's "Starter Kit".  Please refer to the Happiness Project website if you would like get a copy.

Why create a Happiness Project?

I love the idea of running off on some grand adventure for six months, which would turn into two years, and then a life long journey exploring the world and living in various towns, experiencing life in other cultures. It would be cool to spend months learning Tai Chi in China or backpacking through Europe with no agenda and no obligations, or to study under a master where I could learn the mysteries of life. Like Rubin, I'm "vicariously exhilarated" by the thought of dropping everything to experience a radical life changing experience. 

Gretchen Rubin says:
I'd started my happiness project to test my hypothesis that I could become happier by making small changes in my ordinary day. I didn't want to reject the natural order of my life--by moving to Walden Pond or Antarctica, say, or taking a sabbatical from my husband. I wasn't going to give up toilet paper or shopping or experiment with hallucinogens. I'd already switched careers. Surely, I'd hoped, I could change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen. (from The Hapiness Project)
Happiness is not waiting for me across the pond on another continent. I enjoy my home. I love my friends and family. I like my ordinary days. I don't want to leave all this behind to chase after increased happiness when I know it is right here, right now. I want to cultivate a life where I'm living in the moment rather than planning the next thing I have to do. Worrying and wanting "to get it right" take up energy that could be devoted to laughter and fun.  Creating a happiness project is a way for me to turn my attention toward enjoying the moment and making more opportunities for happiness.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project grew from a desire to focus "on the things that really matter." Gretchen Rubin explores the wisdom of philosophers, practices strategies from experts, and creates her own experiment. Each chapter highlights a month's worth of small steps leading toward a bigger resolution . . . increasing happiness.

I created the Years of Happiness blog for a group of amazing women who will start their own happiness projects. We will meet once a month (or more often if we like) to share our personal journeys. Together we can unravel some of life's mysteries and hopefully have a grand time doing so.

I’ll facilitate the first gathering. Big thanks to Rubin for providing a starter kit, which we’ll use to get going. The group will decide if we will follow her guide, create our own version, or a combination of the two. Our individual projects will be as unique as each of us. The purpose of coming together is to share ideas, provide encouragement, and to have fun.

To start: pick up a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, browse the book’s website, and sign up for any of her daily or monthly emails that appeal to you. I suggest reading the first 4 chapters before we meet. That will give you a great springboard for creating your personalized project.

Feel free to post comments, questions, or suggestions about our quest for years of happiness.

See you soon!


p.s. Here is another resource I haven't signed up, but thought I'd share the link for any of you that might be interested.