In 2011, after reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book, I was inspired to launch a happiness project of my own.
I’ve been up for an hour.
In that time, I changed two diapers. Made breakfast. Ate breakfast. Unloaded the dishwasher. Loaded the dishwasher. Put clothes in the dryer. Started a new load of laundry. Unpacked from last weekend’s trip (finally). Cleaned the bathroom. Took out the trash. Put winter clothing in the basement. Set aside outgrown baby clothes to give away. Nursed the baby. Washed my face, moisturized/sunscreen-ed/makeup-ed. Fixed my hair. Brushed my teeth. Got dressed. Dressed the baby. Nursed the baby. Checked email. Packed up a sold eBay auction. Balanced my checkbook. Texted my husband. Made a latte. Took the baby outside and swayed her to sleep. Drank my latte in my favorite mug.
[Wow. I’m tired just reading that.]
That’s a lot of stuff to do in an hour.
Oh and did I mention I did all that with the baby on my hip? She has a fever and won’t hear of being put down just now.
Moms do a lot.
In all this busy-ness, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day “stuff”. It’s easy to not notice all the great and wonderful things that happen all the time in little moments. (And it’s also easy to lose oneself in the midst of all this activity and serving others.) I decided to change that.
I started a Happiness Project.
I believe that in order to be happier, a person has to realize they’re happy. They have to be mindful, in other words. They also have to do more of the things that make them happy. And less of the stuff that makes them unhappy.
We need to think more about this stuff.
It’s not selfish.
In fact, it’s positively unselfish to be happy.
Have you noticed that as women (mothers, wives), we set the mood for our entire families?
It feels like a burden sometimes, but it’s positively true.
When I’m not happy, my husband isn’t happy. When I’m not happy (even if I think I’m hiding it well), my kids argue more and are unsettled. Being happy models good behavior for our children. It sets an example for them.
My goal is to be as happy as I possibly can.
Some people will say, “But I can’t go around pasting a smile on my face and faking it.”
Umm.. why not? Why wouldn’t you? Science backs me up here. “Faking it” can cause you to feel happier. In one study, women who got Botox in their forehead, making it difficult for them to frown, reported more feelings of happiness. In another, subjects who were told to hold a pencil in their teeth (forcing the lips into a smile) reported feeling cheerier, but those who approximated a frown felt gloomier.
Reading the Happiness Project motivated me to get off my butt and do something different.
I invited a few of my bestest friends to join me.
Our first Happiness Project group meeting is tomorrow at my place.
Just sending the email scared me a little. What if they thought it was corny? What if they made fun of me or said it was selfish? And, I have to clean the house and be hospitable. Thinking about that makes me tired.
The funny thing about happiness is that in the short term, things that really bring joy are difficult.
All worth it.
Being social isn’t always easy for me. But the research shows that even introverted people are happier when they are more social. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
Another thing I’ve been doing for my Happiness Project is exercising 3 times a week with weights, and decluttering. Being flabby makes me unhappy. Clutter makes me unhappy. The Happiness Project group thing will help me stay accountable with these habits.
Back to mindfulness for a moment.
One of the things I began doing after reading the book is to keep a “One Minute Journal”. I’ve started and stopped dozens of journals through the years. This is the only one that seems to be sticking. Precisely because of its brevity. Usually I write about some funny or touching thing my kids did, or some thoughtful thing my husband said, or something the baby learned. It’s helping me be more mindful.
I now use a Bullet Journal and love it. I mean that. Life-changing! And it’s easy to add a “one minute journal” to its pages.
Are you a mom who needs to get her happy back? Go read to sign up for my free ecourse, Make Time For You.