Happiness Rules

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 After 15 years of working in a fairly large corporation I’ve seen my share of motivational ideas.  There was Play to Win once as an organization, a small group of people into habits of highly effective people, or how to influence people.  Most recently there was The Energy Bus (which I’ll admit had a little spark at least).  And every time someone tells you, “this isn’t the flavor of the year – this is a culture shift!” it feels that way for only a minute.  Inevitably it fades away.  Needless to say I’m not quick to jump on the bandwagon.  Honestly, most of the time I’m reading it or listening from the perspective of what I can do with it at home, not necessarily at work (because there’s ALWAYS too many naysayers to make anything work in the end).

When a saw a copy of The Happiness Project arrive on my desk through inter-office mail I was skeptical.  “We’ll discuss this at our off-site” the note read.  Oh boy….

I was hooked after the introduction.  Gretchen Rubin really doesn’t write it like any other self-help or motivational book I’ve read.  Like she says, it’s more just a record of what she did for a year to make herself happier. She gives the good and bad of what she tried, what worked and what didn’t, and does it in a way that makes me think of things that I would like to try.  It feels easy – not like work or a practice to learn and implement.

Admittedly, when I started I thought, “but I am happy, what’s this really going to bring to the table?”  As I read her introduction I realized that, like she explains of herself, I was feeling happy while at the same time also feeling a lot of stress, anxiety, disillusionment or detachment.  Some days I was just pissed and grumpy and couldn’t figure out any reason why.  I was snappy with my family, I would want to spend some days after work just laying in bed in the quiet, dark room.  Some days I didn’t feel like getting OUT of bed.

My life is good – I can’t complain. Some things could be better, of course. The stress of courts and money could cease to exist and I then I could be ecstatic.  Until then, though, I started really seeing myself reflected in her writing.  Next, I started implementing.  Nothing major, a handful of things – mostly putting on paper the things that I felt I couldn’t ever quite sort out.

I’m making a lot of lists.

Gretchen talks about things like “absolute truths” or “rules of adulthood” that don’t necessarily resonate with me.  One of the things I have adopted, though, are happiness rules.  It sounds completely cheesy, I know, but bare with me.
In an effort to make it as easy as possible to be happy there are some times where very simple things that we do can help avoid a crisis or stressful situation.  You see in my title happiness rule #2 – and I’ll get to that. First…

Happiness Rule #1 – Always overbuy flavored coffee creamer.

Simple, right?  Is that really a life rule?  For us, yes.  Nothing ruins a great weekend morning worse than making the coffee, getting our favorite mugs and prepping to go out in the courtyard to wake-up together…..and then going in the fridge to realize we’re out of creamer.  Then it’s all of a sudden getting dressed, going to the store, finding out what else we might need while we’re there and next thing we know it’s suddenly 11AM on saturday morning and I STILL haven’t had my damn coffee.  No one wants me in that place.  I don’t like feeling that way or starting a day that way.  Hence – a happiness rule.

Now, happiness rule #2 just dawned on me yesterday afternoon.  After a very long, emotional day I was working late and getting home later.  I was exhausted in every sense of the word.  I was snappy and uncomfortable – my face hurt as if I had been clenching my teeth all day.  I tried for about 30-45 minutes to be home and doing stuff with everyone.  I wasn’t feeling good and I certainly wasn’t making anyone else feel good.  Previously, nights like that may have led to me picking a fight.  This time I had to just stop and say, “Fine, Today!  You win!!  I’m going to lay down…”  and that’s exactly what I did for most of the night.  Thankfully I have an amazing husband who keeps things moving on those nights so I hardly even have to worry about any aftermath to deal with.  Why shouldn’t I just admit defeat and do what my mind and body’s telling me?  It left the family having fun and me feeling better later on.  So, yes.  A new happiness rule.

I’ve got lots more coming out of this book for me, too, that’s best left for another day.  Right now, however, I am not defeated.  So time to check something else off the list instead.


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