Posts Tagged ‘The Happiness Project’
Whenever my busy brain starts ping-ponging between the endless “I could do this!” or “I could do that!” possibilities on the Massive Buffet Table of Self-Improvement + Transformation, I try to rein it all in and remember that there are only so many hours in a day, that I work quite a bit both inside and outside the home, and that I have a festive and charming tot-let and hubby I actually enjoy spending time with.
That only leaves so much mental bandwidth and energy for changing the world – or at least changing the way my –s looks in those super-soft J. Crew matchstick cords. (Oh how I want them in every color.)
But this year, as we round the bend on 2012, I’m torn. In one corner, we have minimalist simplicity-pushers – people I very much admire – like my all-time fave blogger Leo “Zen Habits” Babauta. Faithful Momoverettes already know how much I love him; I’ve written about his “Power of Less” book on numerous occasions.
If my imaginary BFF Leo were with me now, he’d probably say: “Calm down, Sparky. Whittle that giant laundry list of hopes and dreams down to what really matters to you this year, and then just focus on your top priorities.”
In the other corner, however, there are go for it types like Gretchen “Happiness Project” Rubin. I recently finished reading her book, and I was pretty blown away by how much she accomplished in one year. She went macro and micro – working on her marriage, becoming a whiz at making Shutterfly photo albums, forming a mini writers’ workshop and two book clubs devoted to children’s literature – and so, so much more.
It was dizzying, frankly. Especially when you consider that she basically layered each month’s resolutions on top of the other. For instance, she started lifting weights in January, and she continued to do that throughout the year, even as she was piling ever more on her plate.
Still, I’m completely considering embarking on a Happiness Project of my own. If I do decide that that’s the direction I’m heading in, I can use the handy-dandy “toolbox” Rubin has created for like-minded readers.
Whatever I do, I may or may not go public with it. When I committed to exercising 200 times in 2010, I got really close – 195 sessions. But then again, this year, when I didn’t have that goal, I worked out almost as much – 174 times. That’s still pretty good, right? Particularly when you consider that a lot of that was P90X, which is oh-so-grueling. Mega worth the effort, but grueling.
This transformation stuff is ultra important, so I think I’ll sleep on it. Right after I watch the new ep of Revenge waiting in my DVR queue. That show is so sinister-y. And ocean-y. And faux-Hamptons-y. Love.
I’ve never said I wasn’t slow on the uptake. So now, after God knows how long after the entire world discovered it, I’m finally reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
Oh my, j’adore. I love that someone could - did – take such a methodical, hyper-researched approach to boosting her day-to-day cheerfulness and gratitude.
And the fact that so much of it requires elbow grease and self-discipline is so telling. I’ve always suspected as much, which is why I’m fairly addicted to self-improvement. But I’m overjoyed to have the validation that color-coding your sock drawer is a way more effective route to lifting your mood than that second or third margarita.
Full disclosure: I tried the second-margarita approach to happiness last night, at our neighbors’ Halloween party. But quite smartly, I’d brought along several cans of Mercy hangover-prevention with us (in lieu of a bottle of wine or some other type of alcohol-laced hostess gift), so I’m not feeling too down for the count today. Those 10,000 milligrams of B vitamins really work.
But back to the book.
I’m only on “January,” but I am completely digging it. It’s all about the steps the author took to hike up her energy levels, and one of the chief ways she did that was to clean and organize. Oooh, music to Momover Lady’s ears.
I’m impressed with the way Rubin labels the particular clutter in her life, and, in so doing, makes it damn near impossible to let it stick around. Some of it’s self-explanatory. Nostalgic Clutter, for instance, is carryover from ancient projects and previous lives, and Rubin cites a massive box of materials from a seminar she’d taught ages ago as an example.
In my case, I have clips of magazine articles I wrote literally 15 years ago that I’m still hanging on to. Insanity. Move on, little doggie…
But I was most impressed by a few new clutter categories Rubin identified for herself – and, by extension, so many of her readers. Like Crutch Clutter, which includes all the depressingly shitty clothes we let clog up our drawers. Recently, I’ve been zeroing in on all my less-than-stellar sleepwear. Why should I subject poor Hubby to that? So at least three times this week, I’ve taken something off my bod in the morning and tossed it right in the trash.
One pocket of gizmos and gew gaws – Aspirational Clutter – has always been my weakness. This is the stuff we hoard in the hopes that we’ll actually use it some day. For Rubin, it was a glue gun she never learned how to operate. For me, I think it might be the still-in-its-box, state-of-the-art food processor we got as a wedding present. In 2004. (Update: Oops, I got hitched in 2003. How time flies when you’re having fun!)
But then again, I only really started cooking about five minutes ago. So maybe I’ll eventually get around to using that food processor. See? See how I rationalize my Aspirational Clutter?
The only thing I can say in my defense is that I’ve recently resurrected several crafts projects – namely knitting and potholder making – that I’d let languish for years. And I now have several groovy new scarves and a tidy little pile of festive potholders to thank for my minor hoarding.
But I’m sure there’s a middle ground between extreme order and a secret stash of Aspirational Clutter. And I can’t wait to keep reading and find out.