My daily working routine includes stumbling around the internet, researching various off the cuff comments, words, tad bits of nutrition information that has crossed my auditory path. On some days, I find gems of information that inspire me and take me down a rabbit hole. Burying myself in information I search and search until I am satisfied, I have learn enough about the subject to pass on useful information to clients and implementation into my own life. The happiness project was one of those rare finds you want to embrace and tell the world about.
Fundamentally The happiness project is a book written by a women Gretchen Rubin. The Arthur is a typical working woman. She has a nice family, loving husband and you can say she is ultimately happy. However as she puts it, she feels happy and blessed, however feels she could be happier. She wanted to hit her top happiness threshold, if there was such a thing?
I absolutely loved this idea!
You see just like Gretchen, I’ve had a lot of successes. I come from a loving family, financial security, I have a close circle of friends and a cute doggie I adore . I appreciate, everything I have. On some days though, I stand staring at the view thinking... is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I really THAT happy?
As the writer suggests happiness is partly genetically determined, it’s true some people are capable of being more happy that others. This is also based on personality and social upbringing. However we can still work on being more happy and hit our happiness threshold.
I might just note here, when I am talking about this type of happiness and reaching maximum threshold, I am addressing the happiness we feel after all our basic needs have been met. Our basic needs are having enough food to eat, feeling like we have a secure place to live, we feel safe in our environment and little financial worries. I would argue that ultimate happiness can not really be achieved if the basic needs are not met.
This is the happiness level of modern life. We have everything YET some how we feel slightly dissatisfied. How is that even possible?
Well very easily
Primarily because people take things for granted and do not appreciate things. However if your like me and do practice gratitude then we must realise that happiness exists along a continuum. We can be happy in retrospect, but not as elated in the present moment when we are experiencing something. Take for example when I do my crazy sporting events like Tough Mudder or even the half marathon. Whilst I am running the only thing I am thinking about is how much its hurting and where is that blasted finish line! I am not running along thinking how wonderful it to have woken up at 5am to run, in pain amongst thousands of crazy people. I would say during the event, I'm hating it. Ask me if I would do it again HELL NO!
The happiness that I feel occurs days after I finished the race. The muscular pain subsides and I’ve been able to brag to a few people, THEN I sit back and think “I can’t believe, I did that?!”. The happiness comes from the feeling of accomplishment, well after the event itself. Ask me again about reentering next year and I change my tune. With a massive smile on my face I say HELL YEAH! That my friends is the crazy thing about being human haha
The take home message is that even though you may be generally content, you may not feel happy and content until well after you realized you are happy. Feelings of elation are far from few on a whole.
This is partly because we become immune to “happy things” meaning, what made us happy before, may make us happy again but on a slightly diluted scale. We get used to it or I guess on a part we take it for grated.
There’s another thing you have to realize to, what makes you happy, may not necessarily make me happy.
Happiness is subjective
This is a fair call, I could never understand how men get so much joy out of fixing and polishing their cars. Let me going shopping and I am in prime happiness, on a most part shopping would be a mans nightmare!
Gretchen in her wisdom, decides to come up with her 12 commandments of what she feels would make her happier in her life. She focuses on implementing one commandment per month for a year. With the hope that in a years time, she will have more memorable happy moments, and feel better day to day. I guess in a way give her life more meaning, by being more pleasant to the people she loves.
Now 12 is a bit much, to be honest I had trouble coming up with just 5. So I urge you to come up with your own set of commandments and tackle them month by month. Remember though this is your happiness, no one else's. Commandments aren’t there to change anyone, they are solely based on your actions alone. Your happiness can’t be enhanced by asking someone to change their behavior, you need to change your mind set or your own behavior to feel better.
So here it goes..
My 5 commandments:
Spend less money and save
- Wear all the clothes I have. Plan outfits at the start of the week taking my time to try on and make up new combinations, so when I wear my outfits I feel brand new without having to buy new clothes all the time
- Drive safer to avoid speeding fines and parking fines. This may mean giving more time to commute and park rather than mucking around at home getting dressed.
Go to bed earlier
- Set my alarm clock to go off at 10pm. Turn off the lights and kick the dog out of the room
- Avoid checking my phone, reading Facebook posts
- Finish my house work on the weekends, so I don’t get stuck doing it late at night
Build stronger social connections
- Call my friends more often instead of texting.
- Arrange to visit my family friends at least once a month
- Remember birthdays (This is my worst, I’ve been told off by friends on numerous occasions for forgetting their birthdays)
- Invite people out when I am heading out on the weekends instead of going solo
- Organize workouts to catch up with my crazy fitness friends.
- Give people chances to explain themselves rather that cutting them out of my circle because I am hurt
Be cautious about the people I let into my life
- Introduce people into my life in short bouts initially to ascertain weather they are good for me to spend time with
- Evaluate situations faster, and stick to actions in line with gut feelings
Learn to just leave it alone
- Know that I can’t finish doing every thing in such a short period of time
- Learn to say no, or that I need more time
- Set boundaries with people
- Turn off the computer and try again the following day
- Pick your battles wisely, leave debating for the professional space not online on Facebook or twitter
What I also found useful is in the book Gretchen makes a list of helpful phases she learnt as an adult. This I found extremely useful, especially when your in the wrong head space. when your feeling alone, defeated, jealous or angry. On different occasions throughout my life each one of these phrases has helped me radically accept situations or build confidence to carry on. Do you have any phrases you use? Please share them with us :)
10 Things I have learn’t as an adult
- Attractiveness is not what your wearing, it’s you, so smile!
- Smiles are interpreted positively all over the world, they help you make friends
- People are autonomous creatures don’t try to control them, accept and let be
- Your love can’t be bought, people have to act and show they care. If they don’t they don’t deserve you
- Fear of weight gain is unfounded if you build healthy behaviors and have the knowledge to change things
- Your standards are not everyone else's standards
- Act ethically and on your morals, don’t sell your soul
- Every thing tastes so much better when your hungry
- When you stare into your wardrobe full of clothes it makes you feel guilty, other people have far less than you, don’t complain you have nothing to wear.
- You can’t choose your family, they choose you. Shut up and walk away
So there is it
The secretes to how I cope with life! The idea is that the things you learnt as an adult should be a tool that helps you achieve your commandants. So I urge you to make a list of things that will make you happy, but not material things. You know why?
Material things make you some what happy for a few brief moments. Your interaction with others, accomplishing and changing behaviors will keep you happy forever.
What’s on your list?