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August: Eternity

Hey all!
School is just around the corner, which means summer holidays are sadly ending! Because of my own decision to return to college, like, next week, I had to quit my full time job. So long security! Oh well, I’m looking for a part-time job at the moment. I’m not worried – things always work out! After all, I recognize that I’m in a much better situation than others might be…

Which leads me to this month’s topic in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:

August’s focus: Contemplate the Heavens (or, contemplate our mortality)Baby Buddha

Gretchen prefaces this portion stating she’s not overtly religious, and as a family, they celebrate the usual Christmas and Easter in the commercial way it’s grown to become. But, just because you may not be religious, does not mean you cannot be spiritual or even entertain some of these ideas.
Excerpt from Gretchen: “Also, although I’d never thought of myself as particularly spiritual, I’d come to see that spiritual states – such as elevation, awe, gratitude, mindfulness, and contemplation of death – are essential to happiness.”
This section makes for an interesting read and I swear I can’t do it justice; I guess you’ll just have to read it to get the full effect!

“Read Memoirs of Catastrophe” – Why? “There are some kinds of profound wisdom that I hope never to gain from my own experience,” Gretchen admits. So, we can read about it. Biographies about serious illnesses, vices, divorce, loss, natural disasters, death, and the list can go on. Not only does this give you insight on different people and their struggles, but it indirectly makes you realize how much your own life is precious and to be grateful for what you have. Not only that, but to enjoy the time you have. Enjoy the time spent with family around you, enjoy watching your baby grow up, enjoy the sun kissing your skin, enjoy taking in the sights. Because it won’t last forever; people grow up and grow old, situations change, health deteriorates.
“As a consequence of reading these accounts, I found myself with a greatly heightened appreciation for my ordinary existence. Everyday life seems so permanent and unshakable – but, as I was reminded by these writers, it can be destroyed by a single phone call.”
Gretchen also started keeping a one-sentence journal, highlighting the small, fun memories that she knew would eventually fade from her mind with time. So if she wrote it down, however short, it would at least elicit these fond memories when she read them over, years from now.
Another action spurred from this experience was establishing that their affairs were in order. “All the memoirs emphasized how horrible it was to deal with cold logistics at a time of shock and grief.” Gretchen and her husband agreed to review their wills and banking information every year around their anniversary, as a way to maintain family responsibility. She knew that they were both strong and healthy, but they felt more assured knowing that this type of stuff was in place in case, god forbid, anything awry were to happen.
Personally, I’m wouldn’t mind reading some memoirs relating to catastrophe, but I’m also not running out the door to get them! The last couple of years, I believe I’ve become more aware of my mortality (for a reason I’m not sure that I’m ready to reveal just yet), which in turn has had me enjoying certain aspects of life more. I’ve become more aware of my health and steps I can take to be proactive, like vitamins and exercise. I’m grateful for the time spent with family, friends and Teddy’s family. I’ve even dialed down the time spent on my phone and social media in order to appreciate the now and the life around me.
Once I’m married and actually have assets and finances, then I would gladly stay on top of the wills and affairs in case anything bad were to happen. As of right now, my net worth is way below zero, so there’s no point making a will unless I wanted to designate who got my debt! Ha!

journal“Keep a Gratitude Notebook” – “…I find it hard to stay in a grateful frame of mind – I take things for granted, I forget what other people have done for me, I have high expectations.” So, Gretchen made a gratitude journal, where she started recording three things for which she was grateful for, each day. She ended up doing this the same time she did her one-sentence journal…
Personally, I would make the gratitude and one-sentence journal a fusion, to avoid having so many different journals. I would record a memory or two that I wanted to remember, while also expressing my three grateful things in one book. And, doing this activity every single day may sound daunting for some, so make it an every other day activity, or once a week activity. Based on my inconsistent daily schedules, I would opt for it to be a weekly activity; plus, it would give me a chance to reflect on the week and appreciate what transpired. Figure out what might work better for you!
Excerpt from Gretchen’s daughter: “You know what I was just thinking? ‘I’m in the pool, it’s summer, I’m seven years old, I’m wearing a very cute bathing suit, and my grandmother is asking me if I want anything to eat or drink.’ “

“Imitate a Spiritual Master” – Gretchen asked her blog readers which spiritual masters they followed, and got a huge list of variable choices. From the Dalai Lama to Charles Darwin, from Mother Nature to an advice columnist, from Mother Teresa to Vincent Van Gogh – the options were endless. Some even stated that they admit to following or learning about a specific icon, but not necessarily imitating them; rather, they just admire them.
Gretchen discovered that her “spiritual master” was Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a nun who approached spiritual life simplistically and practically. Her life was nothing extraordinary, nor did she achieve great flashy feats of change. Instead, she merely led an ordinary life, making sure every little deed was done with love and happiness. Gretchen aspired to be more like Thérèse, able to accomplish things with a cheery attitude and able to smile through the pain (Thérèse died at 24 from tuberculosis).
“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.”
As for myself, I can’t think of a “spiritual master” whom I look up to. Usually I do my own thing, or contemplate options with Teddy or Ms. Anne. That said, I know for the past few months, and for months to come, I’ve been aspiring to achieve the enlightenment Gretchen Rubin has achieved by doing this happiness project.
So I guess Gretchen would be classified as my spiritual master for the year of 2015 – and for any other years I decide to revisit, refresh, or replicate these goals.

“One of the key underlying purposes of this month’s resolutions and my entire happiness project was to be able to bear up courageously when the phone rang with bad news – as inevitably, it would.”
For Gretchen, it did, at the end of the month. Her mother called to inform Gretchen that her sister was diagnosed with diabetes. Initially they thought it was type 2, and they looked at the positive aspect that it could be alleviated with diet and exercise. Then they learned it was actually type 1.
Gretchen kept a positive perspective and told her sister how it was good that they caught it early and that once she gets used to it, she’d be just fine. Her sister agreed, adding that it could have been something much worse and terminal.
As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Here’s one more quote Gretchen shares at the end this chapter, from an eighteenth-century epitaph:

“Remember, friends, as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me.”

____________________________________________________________________

Reference:
Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project. 2011 ed. Toronto, Canada: HarperCollins, 2009. 301. Print.

Buy the book! ^.^

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Books, Life, My Happiness Project, Writing

 

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July Happiness Results

Hey guys!
Holy smokes – things have been crazy these last few weeks. We’ve been trying to enjoy summer, going gamping (gay camping), getting my school stuff in order for September, editing another book for Teddy, and training new people at work since I put in my resignation! So I haven’t exactly had an abundance of time to get on a computer and share my experience with July’s Happiness Project. But now I do! So here goes…

July’s focus: Buy Some Happiness

“Indulge in a Modest Splurge” – Usually I’m pretty uptight about money because I’m always thinking about saving money for that house I want, or that vacation I’d like to go on… And it’s hard to divide all my moneys between bills, saving, and allowing myself entertainment expenditures. Not to mention having to support other people than myself at times – it’s too much pressure! And I think I’ve been more uptight about money lately because I know going to school will mean I will have to downgrade my job for less pay and less hours… So saving for that house is gonna be on the back-burner for awhile. I’ll barely be able to stay afloat.
So my version of a modest splurge is rather minimal. I bought the season Looking (racy show about gay guys living in San Fransisco) and the movie The Normal Heart (superb film about the initial breakout of HIV in NYC). Other modest splurges include the occasional weekend out for brunch at Cora’s, or getting an ice cream at Dairy Queen (that bitch is getting expensive!).
If my modest splurge should be more extravagant, then I’m all for it – but you’re paying! 😛

“Buy Needful Things” – We discovered there were two types of buyers: underbuyers and overbuyers. I am an underbuyer – I buy what I absolutely need to, and often neglect to get things if they aren’t on sale or if they seem too expensive at that store. I essentially underbuy so much so that I end up going without.
I was running out of toothpaste and some other supplies, like Oxy pads, that I had been out of for a week already. So I put together a shopping list and I made a point of going out to get it. If the item I wanted at Shoppers Drug Mart wasn’t on sale, I kept it on the list and checked out the grocery store in the same plaza. Behold, I was able to find the same non-sale items for cheaper at the grocery store. I went home with a complete list and felt successful and secure by having the supplies I needed for daily routines. I even bought an extra pack of bar soap! Now that is going above and beyond for me haha! I just need to keep at it and not let myself reach that point of running out of essentials to avoid midnight runs.

“Spend Out” – What Gretchen means is, stop saving your possessions for later; use them now. For me, it’s not often that I save items to use at a later time. I’ve always been the complete opposite of a hoarder and purge things from my life that aren’t useful. Granted, I’ve been gathering things here and there for our future house together, such as dishes, a griddle, bookshelves and the like, but those aren’t things I can necessarily use now – I have no room for it in my parent’s house, and it’s in storage. So I’m not really sure they count in this case.
Everything else that I have in my room or that is readily accessible is being used. And if for some reason I have no use for it, I’ll get rid of it.
Ain’t nobody got time for hoarding!

“Give Something Up” – I’m giving up my current job… Does that count? Ha!
I thought about what I’d like to give up, and I decided I had a couple of apps on my phone that I spent way too much time on and it ate up a lot of my data plan if I wasn’t on WiFi. I’m even considering deleting more social apps, but I haven’t reached that point yet.
The apps I got rid of were called Scruff and Grindr. Both of these are gay-related chat apps where you can connect with other homos around you – often for chat, making friends, or arranging hook-ups. Everyone uses them for different reasons; I found myself engaged in endless chats and soon found my time, and data, running out the window. Granted, I’ve met some great guys and made a number of friends via those apps, but I’m content without the apps now. They’ve served their purpose and it’s time to move on and nurture the friendships I’ve gained from it.
The only other social platforms I maintain are Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I’ve never bothered with Tumblr or Pinterest, and I hate Twitter. I’ve even deleted Snapchat in the past, and have considered eliminating it again. We are always too connected, too plugged in. I personally want to be less connected to every little thing – I want to use my phone when I need to, I don’t want it using me. Like, do you know how long it would take to check every single social platform if you have an account on everything that’s available these days? I can’t even fathom it.
So, what did you guys give up?

I’ll see you guys again shortly with August’s theme in the Happiness Project!
Enjoy the rest of summer! Xoxo

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Books, Life, My Happiness Project, Writing

 

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