I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and want to start my own! Her initial realization was that she wasn’t as happy as she could or should be, and she wanted to get happy now – for its own benefit, and so she would have a happiness reserve to fall back on when times got hard, which is an inevitable reality of life. She took a year and focused systematically on improving her happiness, applying research-based ideas and using a daily “Resolution Chart” to track her progress. Her website (www.happinessprojecttoolbox.com) talks more about ideas from the project and has tools to help create and track your own project.
One of her ideas that stuck with me the most include her first rule – “Be Gretchen” – in other words, be true to yourself, figuring out and accepting who you are, what makes you tick and what makes you happy (not what should make you happy, but what does). This doesn’t preclude stretching yourself, but it does mean actively pursuing those (healthy) things that truly add to your happiness. She also emphasized the importance of building strong social connections, something that has been shown to be universally connected with happiness. To start identifying the elements you might include in your own happiness project, she recommends asking 4 questions: 1) What makes you feel good? 2) What makes you feel bad? 3) Is there any way you don’t feel right about your life (in other words, on the ethical, moral, self-fulfillment spectra)? and 4) Do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth in your life (growth being a key factor to promoting happiness)? Then, develop resolutions that relate to these – and chart them!
Well, I am happy but I could certainly be happier, so I’d like to give it a try. I think those 4 questions are helpful, and I’m into tracking things. And with baby coming, life will be changing, and keeping in touch with myself will be important.