Monday Musings: Happiness Project Revival
It’s been a really long time since I dedicated a post to my Happiness Project. Actually next month will be my one-year anniversary since embarking on the project. Just to remind you, the project was based on the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, where she tasked herself each month with new challenges in the pursuit of happiness and self-knowledge.
In May, which I deemed “No Sugar Added May,” the topic became sort of ongoing. I started to read more books about exercise and the need to cut extraneous sugar from my diet. It’s not like I eat a lot of sugar, but it was sneaking into my diet. It sort of turned into a summer project where I tried to optimize workouts and cut sugar, with the exception of what was naturally occurring in fruit and a touch of honey here and there.
Tony Robbins says we are our rituals and if we wonder why we are the way we are, we can look at our rituals. What we do when we wake up, whether we work out, what we eat, what we read are all part of our rituals which have an impact on our biochemistry and psychology. Lately, I’ve been looking at my rituals more closely to see where I can have the most positive impact on my life. More than just being introspective, for me I need to have something in front of me to show that I am chipping away at my goals. This realization made me think of my Happiness Project.
Gretchen Rubin says that monitoring habits can help us manage our habits. As a questioner, I find that I need data in order to determine if something is working or worth while, and monitoring is the best way for me to collect data. My Happiness Project was one way for me to collect data about myself because I had a spreadsheet on my wall and I could mark off my accomplishments for the day. I guess you could say I like my gold stars.
I really miss having my check list! As I look back on my old checklists, there are tasks that jump out at me as things I enjoyed doing, things that challenged me, and things that I have started slipping on. I’d like to start monitoring them again.
Exercise is one area that is hugely challenging for me.
Exercise is part of a healthy life, but it has not been easy incorporating it into my lifestyle. I’ve never been too into athletics and even though I played soccer and tennis in high school, I mainly did it to get involved with something.
Currently, I go to the gym most days of the week, sometimes in the morning and sometimes after work. Therefore, it’s not solidly a habit for me. Two deeply ingrained habits for me are feeling too tired to workout or feeling that I can’t take a break from my day job to exercise because if I do that, then it will mean I’m not dedicated enough.
I need to constantly remind myself of the big picture: exercise is great in order to relieve stress, can help me sleep better (I’ve struggled with insomnia since the last year of my doctorate), help me maintain a healthy weight (even though a good diet trumps exercise in this department), and maintain a healthy blood sugar. Sometimes I feel tired after exercise and it’s like I don’t recover from it (I probably need to listen to my body a bit more instead of overexerting myself on those days), other time I get a “runners high” (even though I don’t run because I can’t stand running).
One thing that has helped me is starting a workout routine with Allison at Flabs to Fitness, which can be done in 20 minutes and staves off boredom. Boredom is my greatest challenge when it comes to exercise.
Another thing I want to do is surround myself with beauty. Not just aesthetic beauty, but beautiful words too, either in podcasts or books. When I listen to my favorite podcasts or read an uplifting book, I find myself quoting the words to my loved ones, so in turn I imaging I’m putting beauty out in the world too!
In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie points out that most people don’t look within in order to understand a situation, and they often blame outwards. In life, you can either change your surroundings or change yourself. We often try to tinker with our lifestyle, but sometimes we have to do the harder task of going within. It’s easy to look outside ourselves and place blame, make excuses, and add the “but…” at the end of the sentence. But it’s harder look internally and realize areas where you haven’t been dedicated enough, bad habits you’ve turned a blind eye towards, or have been too distracted too notice. I’ve got my day job, my side hustle (this blog), health and fitness goals, relationships to maintain, and a home to keep clean. Ain’t nobody got time for distractions! Really, I think this revival is about being brutally honest with myself, and I’m boldly charging forward to self improvement!
Speaking of distraction, Netflix is a huge distraction! So if it’s not a documentary or educational program, I’m not watching it in September. This one may be tough, but I would rather read than numb out my mind.
So, starting September, I will resume my Happiness Project!
Read for pleasure for 30 minutes
Gratitude practice: Find something beautiful in my environment
-journal it, photograph it
-use the Headspace app
“Three to Thrive”
-visualize 3 tasks as already completed. Feel it in my emotions.
20 minutes of exercise every day
-could be as simple as a walk in my neighborhood, my shoulder physical therapy, or any form of strength training or cardio
Have a salad
Watch a documentary
-paint my nails, put on a face mask, anything that makes me feel adored
I am so excited to kick off my Happiness Project again! I have a huge stack of library books and I’m already looking around my environment to find beauty!