Happy New Year! I am so excited for the year ahead and to finally begin my third Happiness Project!
As many of you know from recent posts, 2017 was a really rough year. The good news is the hard times are behind us and after a lot of hard work I am really starting to feel like my old self again. I feel happy, content, and hopeful!
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Happiness Project 101
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I will lay out the basics.
You choose 12 areas of your life that you would like to work on, one for each month. Once you have your focus for each month, you then break each goal down into 3-5 manageable tasks (I’ve done more when necessary). These should be as specific as possible (Think S.M.A.R.T goal setting).
A good focus if you want to shed some weight, for example, would be structured something like the following example:
January – Be my Healthiest Self
- Eat 3 well balanced meals (get more specific here if you can) 6 days per week. Allow 1 cheat day per week
- Exercise at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes, making sure to do various workout routines.
- Drink approximately 80 oz. of water per day (Your body weight divided by 2, in oz.)
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
Track, Track, Track
Tracking your progress each month is also key to being successful with your project. If you don’t track, you may not realize how well you are actually doing or if you are falling off course.
Tracking does not have to be complicated. A simple grid with your tasks on one axis and the days of the week on the other, a daily journal entry, or even just a note on your phone notepad
Rubin developed The Four Splendid Truths for Happiness. Asking yourself questions based around these Splendid Truths can help you develop your monthly goals:
1) To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth (What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Where do you feel like you are at your best/worst?)
2) One of the best ways to make yourself happy, is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
3) The days are long, but the years are short. (Life goes by quickly, try to cherish it).
4) You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy. (Act the way you want to feel).
Thou Shall Write The Commandments of You
Rubin believes that everyone should have their own personal commandments that they live by (not to replace the big ten for your Christians out there). These can help you refocus if you feel yourself starting to slide back into old habits.
My 12 Commandments:
I wrote these commandments 3 years ago when I developed my first project but they still hold true for me:
1) Be Sloane – be happy and proud of who I am at my core.
Accept myself and expect more of myself. Strive to change what I do not like about myself and simultaneously strive to focus on and enhance the qualities I DO like.Be excited to try new things but do not try to force myself to like something if I don’t.
2) Let it go.
Keep things in perspective – Remember the big picture and how little most things matter in it. No keeping score.
3) Act the way I want to feel.
If I feel negative, try to project positivism. If I am tired, try to do something active to produce more energy. If I am feeling crabby, express my love and appreciation to someone. “Fake it till you make it. “
4) Stop procrastinating. Do it now.
If it is a task that takes less than a minute or two, do it now. If it is a task that brings dread, negative feelings, fear etc… do it now. Those feelings won’t change if I keep putting them off – actually they get worse. Complete dreaded tasks first thing in the morning – get it over with and out of the way. Make preparations; assemble the things I need in the day or hours before I actually do the task. Remind myself how great I will feel once the task is over.
5) Remember: everyone is on their own journey.
Be less judgmental of others. Remember that very rarely do we know the full story. Everyone thinks differently and I cannot change other people, only myself. Work on and focus on myself. Fight as if I am right and listen as if I am wrong.
6) Remember: It’s the journey not the destination.
Enjoy the journey. Keep my sights focused on being happy now instead of waiting for “X” to happen to finally be happy.
7) Open my arms but protect my heart.
Don’t expect much from other people. When others do disappoint me, try to let it go. Set and keep boundaries until trust has been earned. Tell other people of my needs and expectations surrounding situations ahead of time. Be emotionally self-sufficient.
8) Identify the real problem.
Be honest with myself about what the root of an issue is. Why am I procrastinating on a particular task? Why am I angry about clothes on the floor? Why am I crabby in the morning? Is it because I am not getting enough sleep? Why am I not getting enough sleep? Once a problem has truly been identified, a solution is often easy to find.
9) Lighten up. Smile.
Try to be tender, lighthearted, and loving. No keeping score. Don’t nag. Think before I speak. Remember the big picture and see things from others perspectives. Enjoy the simple things and steer clear of drama. Not my monkeys, not my circus.
10) Become a goal setter AND a goal achiever.
Be realistic in my expectations of myself and make SMART goals: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely. Reward myself when I meet goals. Keep a goal diary.
11) I teach people how to treat me. What we allow is what will continue.
Stick to my guns about being respected, valued, and heard. Do not allow anyone to treat me poorly or take advantage of me.
Give freely of myself, when I can. Volunteer. Teach Wyatt that we all have to work to make the world a better place.
13) Bonus commandment: Take self-care seriously.
I cannot take care of my family if I don’t take care of myself. Watch the things I say to myself in my head (negative self-talk). Get rid of the ridiculous guilt. Make an appointment with myself – schedule my happiness, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Don’t ever skip the appointment. I am important and deserve my own attention.
Lists are Your Friend
Gretchen also focuses on the importance of list keeping in all areas of life. Keeping lists is key to being organized and for most people, having some sort of organizational system is key to being happier.
I keep all of my lists in one place – my Bullet Journal. It’s a super simplistic system and has made a wonderful impact on my life.
Gretchen’s “Secret’s of Adulthood” (A.K.A. Things she has learned the hard way) list is one of my favorite parts in the book:
1) The best reading is re-reading.
2) Outer order contributes to inner calm.
3) The opposite of a great truth is also true.
4) You manage what you measure.
5) By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
6) People don’t notice your mistakes and flaws as much as you think.
7) It’s nice to have plenty of money.
8) Most decisions don’t require extensive research.
9) Try not to let yourself get too hungry.
10) Even if you think they’re fake, it’s nice to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
11) If you can’t find something, clean up.
12) The days are long, but the years are short.
13) Someplace, keep an empty shelf.
14) Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
15) It’s okay to ask for help.
16) You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you LIKE to do.
17) Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.
18) What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
19) You don’t have to be good at everything.
20) Soap and water removes most stains.
21) It’s important to be nice to EVERYONE.
22) You know as much as most people.
23) Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
24) Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
25) What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you–and vice versa.
26) People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
27) Houseplants and photo albums are a lot of trouble.
28) If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.
29) No deposit, no return.
Now go order her book – I guarantee you won’t regret it!
I would love to hear from you if you have done a Happiness Project in the past or are currently working on one! Email me or comment right here on the blog!
If you are interested in joining the Journey to Happier Facebook group where we are working on our projects together, just shoot me an email and I will get you added as soon as I can!