Some years ago on the internet, I stumbled upon Gretchin Rubin’s Happiness Project blog (Check out her website here). Living in New York with a young family and a job that she loved, it struck her that she was not as happy as she should or could be and set about a year-long project focusing on becoming actively happier.
Each month she focused on a different set of resolutions, backed up by her research into happiness and based on her own personal preferences. January focused on Vitality – Boost Energy. March focuses on Work – Aim Higher. May focused on Leisure – Be Serious About Play. September focused on Books – Pursue a Passion.
Each month was broken down into concrete tasks for the focus point. January’s Vitality was condensed into:
– Go To Sleep Earlier
– Exercise Better
– Toss, Restore, Organize
– Tackle A Nagging Task
– Act More Energetic.
She also established her Personal Commandments (I particularly liked: “Be Gretchen”, “act the way I want to feel”, “identify the problem” and “do what ought to be done”), listed the Secrets to Adulthood (“to keep going, we sometimes need to allow ourselves to stop”, “most decisions don’t require extensive research”, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” and “the more we accept ourselves, and what’s right for us, the more other people accept us.”) and Splendid Truths (the first being: “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”)
I loved it. I loved it and I bought the book (“The Happiness Project, or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun”) and was lucky enough to receive a signed book plate from Gretchin in New York.
I read this book at least three times a year. I also read the follow-up Happier At Home just as much. It speaks to my organized, task-oriented nature and I really enjoy seeing how someone else practically tackles personal development. I’m not one for meditation or yoga or big thinking. I like lists and doing and visible results, even if they take a while. I’ve spoken to a number of friends about this (so far, only one has rejected the book flat out and we agreed that we shouldn’t lend each other books any more as we have utterly opposite tastes!) and we’ve all worked on versions of happiness projects. My friend, Fee, is currently working on her own happiness project at the moment and I’m both fascinated and inspired by it. She’s giving veganism a go, trying to drink more water, buying fairtrade clothes and doing jigsaws – all things that are important and particular to her.
Talking with Fee made me excited about my own project, but I realised that being a more confident adult would make me happiest, so my happiness project morphed into this nebulous idea, which in turn led to this blog.
But I need to work out what areas need work, how I’m going to tackle each area and make SMART goals. That’s the next step.
*Deliberately not titled “Adult Project” for the XXX connotations…