On my most recent post (The Happiness Project), I shared with you a pretty great book that I just finished reading, and am now re-reading. This book inspired me to provide structure to my own little Happiness Project (i.e., what this little blog of mine was supposed to be about in the first place). The author, Gretchen Rubin, provides several resources to begin your own Happiness Project on her Website.
To get started, I sat down and brainstormed a list of things I enjoyed, and then without sharing my thoughts; I asked my husband, B, to help me add to it. I asked him to answer the question, “When have you seen me most happy? It could be anything” He started naming different things, and I began jotting them all down. He produced a list of 16 different items. Some things were slightly vague like, “Doing something out of your comfort zone, and then having it go well” (I pressed for specific examples). In addition, he also gave specific activities like: watching live music, having quality 1:1 time with friends, going for a run, being in the midst of beautiful natural scenery, creating & completing a crafty project, doing things for others.
I loved B’s list. He came up with a lot of things that I hadn’t really thought about. The more I examined the list; however, the more that I felt as though it wasn’t really capturing the big picture. It’s true, I love music and art and and learning and travel, and doing kind things for others, I should be doing those things more frequently, but it wasn’t yet speaking to “The Gap.”
The gap between who I was and who I aspired to be. Nor was it speaking to the reason that this gap existed in the first place. To dig a little deeper, I read these questions and then began answering them in a “free association” format to B.
- “What makes you feel bad?”
- When I can’t wake up in the morning and therefore oversleep (When I push snooze 5+x’s)
- When I don’t give Georgie the exercise she needs
- When I eat poorly
- When I go days without exercise
- When I waste “my minutes” (aka the minutes of my life) doing unproductive/unenjoyable things (i.e., browsing social media).
- When I feel rushed/frazzled
- When I feel exhausted
- When I don’t do things I enjoy.
- “What makes you feel good?”
- (The opposite of everything above)
- “Imagine a person you admire and describe that person.”
- She wakes up early, she doesn’t push snooze, she eats very well, she exercises regularly and is in amazing shape, she volunteers, she is considerate towards others, she has a passionate hobby, she has routines.
After exploring these questions, B helped me figure out where my “behavior chain” (i.e. A causes B which then causes C) tends to go astray. He so eloquently said, “You don’t have a nightly routine where you take time to prep for the next day… you go to bed late…sleep very little, and then you can’t wake up..which leads to being frazzled and frantic in the morning…you are then exhausted at the end of your work day… which means you waste time doing ‘brainless’ things because you don’t have the energy to do anything else.. and by the time you have the energy to start doing productive tasks the sun has set…which means the gym is probably closed, so now you can cross “exercise” off once again….and then you start the cycle all over again where you stay up late”…..
So to summarize with Gifs.
Eat Well. Sleep Well. Exercise Well.
Ok. So it’s really not groundbreaking stuff, but I love what Gretchen said at the very beginning of her book:
People have been thinking about happiness for thousands of years, and the great truths about happiness have already been laid out by the most brilliant minds in history… The laws of happiness are as fixed as the laws of chemistry. But even though I wasn’t making up these laws, I needed to grapple with them for myself. It’s like dieting. We all know the secret of dieting–eat better, eat less, exercise more–it’s the application that’s challenging. I had to create a scheme to put happiness ideas into practice in my life. pg. 7 The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben
Ah Yes, the application is challenging.
I discussed last time (HERE), that the first step in solving a problem is to objectively define what it is that you are looking to change. I’ve gone from the vague, “I want to feel happier…or more content... or more satisfied…or more balanced…or maybe more accomplished?” to finally pinning down my first action item. Getting more sleep might seem like an easy task for some, but this is a huge undertaking for me, so for the past week I’ve been researching articles on sleep, and helpful tools that assist in getting more of it. I’m going to share those specifics very soon, but first I’ll leave you with the song I listened to on repeat on my Sony Discman as a ten year old insomniac to give you a taste as to how far back my sleep issues go: