Wow, over a week into the New Year already! Gotta get my butt in gear!
A quick recap, I plan on venturing through the book The Happiness Project written by Gretchen Rubin – which I briefly described in my previous post. Since it’s a New Year, it’s a great time for me to start this, and for you to follow along! I encourage considering doing something similar yourself, to boost the overall enjoyment you can take from life!
So how did Gretchen even come about starting this project? She was contemplating life and wondering if this was it? Was this all there was – the same routine, same food, same clothes, etc? And then a bigger realization: “I was in danger of wasting my life.”
Now, she made it very clear this wasn’t about depression. This was about being happy vs unhappy; trying to boost her overall happiness in her everyday life. She found she was dissatisfied and failing to appreciate the fortunate things she had in life.
Then her next obstacle was “finding time” to do this happiness project… In which she knew the answer: she had to make time. Her life wasn’t going to magically change on its own – she had to make the change.
Like her, I’ll be making time to read this fabulous book, apply each month’s goals of change, and keep updates via blog to share the experience and also keep myself accountable.
Also like her, I love making lists and planning out things, but this quality isn’t required for you to take away something positive for yourself!
Gretchen asks how is it possible to boost your happiness? Within her extensive research – and I mean, extensive! – she found it was best to address each section of life she wanted to improve by attributing each month with a particular focus.
But before we delve in, Gretchen also made a list of “12 Commandments” and she encourages us to create our own list that applies to us. Something to be mindful of throughout the year, and beyond. It doesn’t have to be 12 items; it could merely be 2 statements, as long as it’s something that rings true to you. She has tips to make your own list, and explanations on her own choices here: 12 Commandments
I decided to go with less. Here’s my 7 Proposals that I want to achieve:
1. Control the urge to fix everything – Unbeknownst to me, I have a reflex to try to fix or offer remedies to problems, even for those that don’t concern me. I need to recognize when my help is required while also recognizing when I’m not needed.
2. Let it go – (Taken from Gretchen) Essentially, don’t hold grudges. Let it roll off your back. Also, refrain from singing the Frozen song. Haha! No, seriously, refrain.
3. Be fearless of judgement – This can apply to all areas: the way I might dress, my interest in music, me being gay, my health, anything.
4. In turn, be less judgemental – I can cast judgements without getting the whole picture. This is something I need to work on.
5. Enjoy the scenery – This could be metaphorical for enjoying the process, but it’s also quite literal. Nature is beautiful; take time to take it in.
6. It’s all perspective – Why people do what they do would make more sense from their perspective. Don’t be narrow-minded; put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
7. Write like no one’s reading – A spin on “Dance like no one’s watching,” I want to write freely without second guessing how others will perceive it. I don’t want to write what’s “safe” or “sellable.”
Those are my 7 statements I want to remind myself of throughout the year. Feel free to take on any of these or Gretchen’s for your own list. Even better, when you come up with a list, feel free to share it here!
Now let’s get on with the show and approach January’s focus: Vitality/Boosting Energy.
I’m only going to highlight the intended goals for January right now, since I still have over three weeks to see how the applications have impacted me. At the end of January I’ll share my findings and disclose which ones I had trouble adhering to, which ones I might abolish, and which ones I highly recommend! Ps. Did I mention you should really read this book? There’s so many anecdotes that make everything very relatable and realistic.
“Go To Sleep Earlier” – Seems self-explanatory, but getting more physical energy greatly improves your outlook and approach to daily tasks. We all know the recommended hours of sleep is seven to eight, but do you actually get that much? I know I need to make sure I get more sleep – I love dreaming! Such fun, technicolour dreams I have… Also, another bad habit I have is pressing the snooze button in the morning, only to get up thirty minutes to an hour after the fact, generally making my mornings rushed. This also creates a groggy, confused mind from all the nine minute snoozes. So, I’ll simply go to bed one hour earlier to make up for that hour of fumbling with my alarm in the morning, and get up when I should be getting up.
Excerpt from Gretchen: “…make sure your room is very dark when the lights are out…even a tiny light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep cycle.”
I agree 100% with this – I have my alarm clock brightness set to the lowest possible setting. Make sure anything that flashes or glows, like computers, TVs, phones, etc are covered. You’d be surprised how many things emit light in your room!
“Exercise Better” – Again, self-explanatory; a regular exercise schedule boosts energy, mood, and focus. I have bad workout habits. I get into it and can go for a week or two, then something happens and I stop exercising for a few consecutive days. Before I know it, months have passed and I haven’t done any exercise routines. Getting back into it is always difficult, but rewarding once I push through those first couple routines. This does not mean you have to go to a gym. You could find ways to workout at home: treadmill, free weights, yoga, pushups, skipping, Wii Fit, or you could go outside for a run!
Excerpt from Gretchen: “Just by exercising twenty minutes a day three days a week for six weeks, persistently tired people boosted their energy.” And for those with Fitbits that they got for Christmas or other pedometers: “…people should aim to take 10,000 steps a day – a number that also reportedly keeps most people from gaining weight.”
I’ll try my hand at 20 min, 3 days per week to start. We’ll see how I go from there!
“Toss, Restore, Organize” – This is probably the thing I’m most excited about – mainly because I do this on a semi-regular basis already. Removing clutter, organizing your closets and drawers, creating homes for homeless items. Gretchen’s best advice for this portion is to tackle a little at a time. Go through your hanging clothes… Keep what you like, donate what you haven’t worn in years, toss what’s been worn and torn. Then go through your folded clothes in your drawers and do the same thing.
Locate clutter collectors like tables or idle chairs. Figure out what exactly has been collecting and decide what’s worth keeping, what’s garbage, and what you can give away. For the things that you decide to keep, designate a home for them. Consider getting storage containers or decorative boxes or a filing cabinet or whatever is required to allow for a clean table top or bare counter. Don’t just shove things behind a cupboard or into a closet so its out of sight. The closet is probably the best place to start this clutter clearing task – organize from the inside out. This is no time for hoarder syndrome!
Excerpt from Gretchen: (this whole section is golden, it’s hard to just pick one sampling. Context: a friend just told her that she keeps an empty shelf in the house, after discussing the gratification of clearing clutter.) “I had to have one. I went home, went straight to my hall closet, and emptied a shelf. It wasn’t a big shelf, but it was empty. Thrilling.”
“Tackle A Nagging Task” – This is also exciting! Make a list of to-do tasks or chores that you have been avoiding or that has been well overdue. Like, making an appointment to get your eyes checked, backing up your computer’s files, getting your pants hemmed, or, for me, getting a photo health card. I’ve gotten a number of notices now and have neglected to get it. For those in Ontario, we used to have red and white health cards that never expired. Now they make us get photo health cards that need to be renewed every five or ten years or something. Why would I want a card that never expires to switch to something that needs maintenance every decade? I digress…
Excerpt from Gretchen: “I was astounded by the dramatic boost in my mental energy that came from taking care of these neglected tasks.”
I’m usually pretty on top of my tasks, not to brag! But I’ll think long and hard to see what I can come up with.
“Act More Energetic” – I’m skeptical of this goal, however, so was Gretchen! Contrary to our skepticism, the studies she found proved that it worked. This one might be tricky.
Excerpt from Gretchen: “…although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act.”
Let that settle in for a moment.
Those are the five goals for January! Gretchen started out with these Boosting Energy goals to help us tackle the remaining year with extra energy and an organized home. I highly agree and am looking forward to applying all of them, except maybe the exercise one!
I hope I have peaked your interest to try some of these yourself! I’ll be back with results at the end of January before February’s goals begin!
All the best! xoxo