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Posts tagged ‘happiness’

Meme of the Week

Voltaire quote

Happy Friday.

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Miranda: What makes you happy?

Do you know — and can you list right now — the things that really make you happy?

I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s interesting bestseller The Happiness Project. In this self-described “stunt” book, Gretchen spends a year systematically working to become a happier person and to understand the nature of happiness. Gretchen frames her journey in a way that facilitates the reader’s self-reflection without becoming a workbook. At the end of the year, Gretchen decides that she is in fact happier — and perhaps, most importantly, has become more aligned with her #1 Personal Commandment to “Be Gretchen.”

In addition to her Twelve Personal Commandments and her secrets of adulthood, Gretchen arrives at Four Splendid Truths. The first Splendid Truths is: To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

I gave this some thought. Gretchen points out that we often fall into the trap of subscribing to things that make other people happy, thinking that those things should make us happy, too. Many people love good food and dining out, for example. Gretchen doesn’t. Accepting this truth is important. Why invest hours in a doll collection that is “supposed” to make you feel happy when in fact nothing about dolls resonates with you? Or taking your kids to the zoo when you really hate zoos?

I enjoyed Gretchen’s book a lot, although I found myself frequently wondering how she managed to read as many books as she did and where her children were while she worked. Her older daughter was in elementary school, but her younger daughter seemed to be barely a toddler when Gretchen started her project — and while Gretchen spent many hours reading, researching, blogging, thinking, and writing, I never figured out where the little one was during that time. Babysitter? Daycare? Of course, as a blogging writer/mother, I was eager to know how these logistics were taken care of. At one point Gretchen decides to take her older daughter out for an occasional after-school one-on-one adventure, although she struggles internally with giving up the work time. So it sounds like there was fulltime coverage for the little one. Not sure why, but given the level of detail that Gretchen shares about how she accomplished her project, I couldn’t understand this oversight. (Maybe I just missed where Gretchen spoke to childcare — if you caught something, please share!)

Naturally, Gretchen’s story prompted me to think about my own desire to be happy. While I don’t seek happiness so much as contentment, I started thinking about what kinds of things really make me feel good, bad, and right, “in an atmosphere of growth.” The growth part is important, because sometimes you have to push outside your comfort zone in order to find something new that makes you happy. The trick is being able to figure out which initially uncomfortable pursuits lead you away from being yourself, and which might end up bringing you closer.

So, what makes me feel good? What are the things that I can actually DO that make me feel good? When I first sat down to make the list, I was a little taken aback when I could only come up with 3 or 4 things. Since then, however, the list has grown:

  • Reading books
  • Reading blogs about creativity and motherhood
  • Reading about time-management and domestic organization
  • Reading most anything (lol)
  • Taking photographs
  • Making things
  • Doing crossword puzzles
  • Writing poetry
  • Blogging
  • Being outside
  • Dancing
  • Baking
  • Doing right by my children
  • Reading aloud with my kids or my husband
  • Making connections between other people
  • Feeling prepared (planning, organizing, anticipating, thinking through the details)

I can’t help but notice that writing — as in, working on my novel and my nonfiction book project — isn’t on the list. What does that mean? Does that kind of writing just feel too much like “work” to make me feel good? I could say that it feels good when I’m writing and the words are really flowing and I’m not in control, but putting “visits from the muse” on my list seemed too far afield of anything actionable. You’ll also note that “running” isn’t on the list, even though I ran a half-marathon last year and subscribe to the transformative power of running. The truth is, I have never been excited about running, even though I have come to see it as a necessary evil.

What makes me feel bad?

  • Domestic chaos (this is a big one for me — chaos makes me very unhappy)
  • Being late (which I often am)
  • Feeling like I let my kids down
  • Being disconnected to my husband
  • Taking on more than I can handle (uhm, yeah)
  • Letting too much time elapse between creative stints
  • Eating sugar
  • Being overdue for exercise

When do I feel “right”?

  • Choosing to be vegetarian even though it isn’t always convenient or fun
  • Deciding not to share something gossipy even though the sharing might seem like connection-building
  • Biting my tongue when I’m confident that I’m “right” about something factual and the other person is wrong (no point in arguing about something unimportant, is there?)

What about you? What makes you feel good, bad, and right? Where do creativity and motherhood fit into your lists? Are you able to do those things on a daily basis?

I’ll be writing more about The Happiness Project, and about living a life of intention — which is my latest objective. I may not be able to control the way life unfolds, but I can apply my intentions to whatever happens. In the broadest sense, for me happiness lies in honoring my intentions. This requires real clarity on what those intentions are. (Hence my new planner.)

Learn more about Gretchen’s project at her blog. You can also start your own happiness project.

Cathy: 100 Happies

I have been seeing or participating in a lot of these 16 random things about, 25 random things about, or 48 questions about me lists that are rattling around on Facebook. Well, now that it’s officially February and the start of the Finish-a-thon, I am foregoing participation in another of those lists. But it got me thinking again about Elizabeth Beck’s list of 100 things that make her happy. I thought it was about time I started my own. Granted, I’m sure I could make it a thousand easy, and that that list can change minute by minute, because that’s just the varietal kind of person I am, but here it goes:

  1. my husband acting goofy whenever I take his picture.
  2. the way my son s can make me laugh like no one else in the world.
  3. baby c’s deliberate pursuit of whatever she’s doing.
  4. writing poetry
  5. writing a good chunk in a longer project
  6. my son k’s smarts and good looks, both of which I lay claim as the genetic source
  7. taking photos of the kids when they don’t know the camera is on them
  8. chocolate, wait that’s too easy
  9. daaaaark chocolate
  10. creamy things with nuts
  11. wait that sounds gross, creamy sweet goodness with walnuts or pecans or crème brulee
  12. ice cream, and then,
  13. potato chips
  14. and then making dinner while full on ice cream and potato chips
  15. coffee in the morning as I pour it into the cup and the aroma wafts up while it makes that particular pouring sound, and then adding a bit of milk so its all swirly, and then
  16. the first sip of the morning.
  17. a hot shower.
  18. lavender soap.
  19. a tall glass of water on a hot day
  20. a big mug of herbal tea on a cold day
  21. or cocoa, my version, no packets in my house!  with four big marshmallows floating in it
  22. baking cookies
  23. baking cake
  24. cookie dough and cake batter
  25. pasta with red sauce.  I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life and never tire of it.
  26. apparently food
  27. fresh veggies from my garden
  28. growing fresh veggies
  29. gardening
  30. even flowers and trees
  31. yardwork
  32. the beach
  33. anything about the beach
  34. except maybe jellyfish stings
  35. jellyfish in the water is so pretty though
  36. walking
  37. yoga
  38. sunshine
  39. rain
  40. the moon
  41. sky gazing
  42. stars
  43. sunsets
  44. sunrises
  45. the smell of my kid’s heads when they are sleeping.
  46. baby c’s wild curls
  47. babies
  48. dogs
  49. cats
  50. horses
  51. the smell of hay in a barn
  52. the smell of the sea
  53. the smell of hay when the sun is shining on it.
  54. wet grass
  55. dancing in the rain
  56. snow
  57. snowball fights with the kids
  58. building something out of snow
  59. crisp air with snow
  60. snow, snow, snow, snow, snow.
  61. swimming
  62. making snow angels
  63. watching my kids make snow angels
  64. getting up out of making a snow angel and not leaving footprints in it
  65. lying on my back on the sand, on the grass, in the snow, on a boat, on a rock, and watching the sky.
  66. rock climbing
  67. listening to friend’s woes, and realizing hey, they’re just like me!
  68. listening to someone’s tale of woe and feeling blessed that it’s not me.
  69. helping a friend find a way past woe
  70. saying Whoa!
  71. when my dog looks at me with the look of love
  72. when my cat looks at me to say something besides feed me which amounts to, yeah, you’re alright, lady.
  73. when she purrs.
  74. bread
  75. making bread
  76. sledding
  77. driving
  78. adventures
  79. knowing that life is an adventure
  80. and all you have to do is liiiiive it
  81. reading
  82. when my husband pinches my butt just because we’re in the vicinity
  83. when I pinch his for the same reason
  84. a really good laugh
  85. jumping in my husband’s arms, even though it’s not so easy to do anymore, but we’re both in the kitchen, and it’s kitchen affection
  86. bubbles, on the stove or in the air
  87. a good movie cry
  88. a good book cry
  89. Christmas trees
  90. Halloween
  91. knowing that how much I love my family only ever gets bigger and better
  92. when I can think of a new way of approaching a bad situation that makes it better.
  93. caramel
  94. snowcones, preferably at the beach
  95. French fries
  96. morning quiet, so rare these days
  97. love
  98. friends
  99. family
  100. random tap dancing

That was fun and kind of cleared my head before I launch into the February Finish-a-thon. I recommend both highly: making a list of what makes you happy and joining us in the February Finish-a-thon! Good luck!

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