I've been reading this book, you see? I'm not exactly a cutting-edge person - it was published two years ago. But right now it is surprisingly applicable to my life, being that sometimes it takes a bit of a conscious effort to find happiness when things feel stressful, uncertain, and generally less fun than college.
Gretchen's project made me realize that it is less about becoming happy and more about acknowledging the happiness you already have. She tackles seemingly tiny things in her life by changing her approach - stop nagging her husband, start a collection, organize her closets - and in implementing those tiny changes, she is able to uncover her happiness, and acknowledge all of the happiness that was already in her life.
My list is a spin-off of many things that Gretchen takes on in her project, mostly because we are pretty similar people. At least, according to how she portrays herself. My idea was that I want to uncover that happiness in the things I do all the time, and perhaps create some happiness just by asking myself why I do certain things.
1) Smile and say hello to strangers.
Toll booth attendants. TSA agents. Checkout ladies at the grocery store. I encounter these people all the time and it's amazing how happy an interaction can become when you approach it with a positive attitude. Just this weekend a toll booth attendant complimented my sweater. The TSA agent said that my driver's license ID photo was "nice". No one had to be nice, but maybe because I engaged, smiled, and said hello, they decided to reciprocate. Happiness is contagious.
2) Plan for the things you might otherwise have just "fit in".
Knitting makes me really happy. Almost as happy as a chilly run makes me. But most days time to knit gets pushed to the wayside because I could be "doing something better" with my time.
Instead of waiting for the illusive "free time" in which I'm inclined to knit, I'm going to schedule it into my week. In fact, I've made some knitting friends. I think it's going to be neat.
3) Don't expect gold stars.
This one is taken right from Gretchen. I like to be acknowledged for my efforts. I love that pat on the back and the positive affirmation. But it's not reasonable to always expect praise for the nice things you do. I need to find my own happiness in my hard work and my above and beyond efforts, because my pride in those efforts can't be dependent on whether or not someone else appreciated them.
4) Don't beat yourself up.
I'm terrible at asking for help. TERRIBLE. Unfortunately, I find myself in a lot of situations where I need help. I'm convinced I'll be happier if I accept that it is entirely okay to need help, and on top of that, I should ask for help. No one expects me to have all the answers (except for me).
5) Stay in touch with friends.
I have a crippling fear of interrupting people's lives. Which is a reason (and a poor excuse) for how terrible I am at staying in contact with the people closest too me. When I go to pick up my phone, a thousand things that person may be doing flash through my mind, and because I don't want to interrupt them, I put down the phone.
To overcome my fear, I'm going to set aside time to reach out to plan a phone call, which is the best of both worlds. I know we'll both be free when we choose to chat and I can set up our phone date via an unitrusive text or e-mail.
What little thing would you implement in your daily life to acknowledge your own happiness? Did you read The Happiness Project? What did you think?