In Ontario, the birds are returning home or emerging from hiding. I’ve seen a few robins already and the Canadian Geese are back to their home, soon to mate and have little goslings. I wish that meant there would be more Ryan Goslings to ogle… but alas! This month is all about taking it easy and becoming lighthearted. Technically it was dedicated to parenthood, but I’m not a parent, so it’s been tweaked!
The reason behind the parenthood month was because Gretchen wanted to “become more tender and playful with [her] two daughters. [She] wanted a peaceful, cheerful, even joyous atmosphere at home…”
With or without children, you and I can both have happy atmospheres at home!
April’s focus: Lighten Up
“Sing in the Morning” – For Gretchen, singing in the morning, whether a favourite song, or just singing the ditties on the radio, actually made the mood in the apartment much more cheery! Mornings usually set the mood for the rest of the day, so make it a good morning! Depending on who’s still sleeping when I get ready for work, I usually have some tunes playing in my room or the bathroom while I groom. I find the mornings that I’m most musical are definitely more carefree and silly. Other tips Gretchen had were along the lines of making jokes to counteract complaints – humour is always the best medicine – and re-framing your mind to appreciate your mornings if you find them difficult. It’s another day of life, another day to conquer something, another day to see your loved ones.
Excerpt from Gretchen: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
This quote is starting to become a favourite of mine. It’s so true; in the evening if you think back to the morning, it feels so long ago and that you did so much, yet if you reflect back to an event that happened three years ago, you wonder where the time went between then and now.
“Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings” – Originally, Gretchen was saying this as a means to acknowledge her children’s feelings and validate their frustrations rather than brush them off as simple kids. So often children are told “No” or “Not yet” or “Stop that” or something with a negative connotation, usually when they are throwing a fit, crying, or pouting. By taking the time to actually acknowledge the reason the child is pouting or crying, it could very well stop them from having a tantrum and prevent them from feeling ignored, which is where most of their frustration is fueled: being ignored. This does not mean you give in to your child, it simply means you verbally talk to them and repeat how they are feeling. Gretchen’s anecdotes were great for this portion and definitely worth reading yourself.
For me, since I don’t have children, I would use this goal to acknowledge other people’s feelings around me. I often put myself in other people’s shoes all the time and try to understand why people do what they do. However, I want to be clear there is a difference between acknowledging someone’s feelings versus trying to appease someone’s feelings. You can recognize someone’s hurt or someone’s joy, but you cannot make everyone happy all the time.
Allow your friends and family to express their feelings to you about whatever they are dealing with, but make sure you have someone to express your feelings to as well. Why? Read the quote below 😉
Excerpt from Gretchen: “Experts say that denying bad feelings intensifies them; acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return.”
“Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories” – Sadly, I don’t have my own house yet. This just means that all my knickknacks and memories that I’m collecting are being neatly crammed into my bedroom at my parent’s house. Sure, I’m running out of space and want more room to grow, but it won’t stop me from continuing to be a wealth of happy memories! Gretchen wanted to be sure her children were raised in a safe haven with happy memories to reflect upon, so she made the effort of keeping photo albums to physically flip through, and made boxes to store keepsakes for when her kids grow up to look back on. I, too, like photo albums! In fact, this past Easter my family was looking through old photo albums (not pictured) back when I was a wee tot! These days everything is digitized, so keeping photo albums is more nostalgic than anything.
Another way to create happy memories is to have family traditions. If you don’t have any, that’s all the more fun – make a new tradition (oxymoron alert)!
“Take Time for Projects” – “Out of the urge to simplify my life, I sometimes feel reluctant to undertake ambitious family projects, but at the same time, I know that these projects are a highlight of childhood – and adulthood,” says Gretchen.
We all know this feeling. But taking the time to put in the effort to make a successful project is well worth it. Carving pumpkins – you have to find the pumpkins, you have to come up with designs, you have to protect the floor or table with garbage bags, then comes the mess! The gushy insides make me squirm every time. Gingerbread houses – you have to get the gingerbread (or graham crackers, which are much more edible), you have to get the assortment of candy, you have to make the icing, maybe even dye the icing different colours, use upside-down ice cream cones for trees, then comes the mess! But it’s delicious! Birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, parties for milestones, Easter egg hunts, etc, etc.
This stuff takes work and planning, but think about if you don’t do these fun things? The special event would just pass over, unmarked or poorly executed. To me, it just wouldn’t feel right. Plus, the process leading up to an event is nearly half of the excitement. It builds up the anticipation and gives you something to look forward to. The journey can sometimes be the best part!
Excerpt from Gretchen: “To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.”
Gretchen also took the time this month to reflect back on her happiness project thus far. She questioned if anything about her happiness had actually changed, or if this project was for not. Here’s a quick synopsis of her feelings: “…although my nature was unchanged, I had more happiness in my life each day; my resolutions had added more sources of fun, engagement, and satisfaction and had also eliminated some significant sources of bad feelings, such as guilt and anger.”
I’d say that’s an improvement! Who wouldn’t want to eliminate guilt and anger while replacing it with warm fuzzies?
I look forward to lightening up and creating a happy home this month. Today I made a point of starting the day with some music, and whaddya know? My morning was much more energetic and enjoyable!
If you guys want some musical suggestions, I suggest taking a look through this list and sampling some of the artists I’ve shared.
Peace and Love! Xoxo
Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project. 2011 ed. Toronto, Canada: HarperCollins, 2009. 301. Print.
Buy the book! ^.^