The song Happy by Pharrel Williams, which was the featured song for the Despicable Me 2 movie, is playing through my head as I write this blog post. I am bobbing my head just a little too. I have been thinking a lot about happiness here lately. For a few reasons:
First, as I am discovering my love for a new health and fitness lifestyle and participation in my health and fitness accountability groups, I found I have become a more happier and contented person. You might think "why does your family and kids not bring you such happiness, or your job?" They do! Of course, my family brings me much happiness! But always the deep thinker, I discovered I had been missing (or at least neglecting) a huge part of me that I didn't realize was such a huge part of me. When I joined my health and fitness challenge groups, a passion for health, fitness, and wellness started oozing out of me, and now the flood gates are opening!
Secondly, before the Christmas break, I received an email from a veterinary colleague with this article about a 92-year old lady's take on happiness. I was so touched by Mrs.Jones's beautiful and wise words regarding happiness. Amazing Advice on Happiness at 92-years old. She describes that happiness is a decision, or choice, that you make everyday. She states in the article:
"It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”
Mrs.Jones also shares with us to "Remember the Five Simple Rules to be Happy" which are:
1. Free your heart from hatred
2. Free your mind from worries
3. Live simply
4. Give More
5. Expect less
And lastly, in November, I finished Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin which I have mentioned in other posts, see New Year, New You. I was so intrigued and inspired by this book as well as her extensive research and observations on habit formation, that I went on to read one of her other bestseller's the Happiness Project. The reason you may see many post from me on her work and why I started my facebook group "Be Better, Be Happy" is because I felt like I related to this author on so many levels. I too was someone who went all through college and gained a professional degree only to realize I didn't have an extreme passion for my chosen profession. I enjoy veterinary medicine. It can be fun, rewarding, and challenging. However, I am not what you would call passionate about it. In fact, I really don't practice medicine anymore. I work in research support and compliance at LSU, which I can explain in another post one day! No, I am just realizing some other things that I am truly passionate about, and those are healthy living, fitness, an active lifestyle, reading, and writing. I may never become a professional writer, and that's ok, but I can still make writing a hobby. A hobby, no doubt, that will bring me much happiness! Hence this blog (and future ones to come).
In my own pursuit of happiness (not to be confused with the movie the Pursuit of Happyness featuring Will Smith as I am not about to solve the rubik's cube and move up in corporate America), I am going to attempt to do my own sort of happiness project! I will focus on the areas of life covered in the the Happiness Project book, but I will tweak it to be my own. Rubin actually encourages her readers to do their own happiness project and gives you resources to do it on your own or with a group. Why am I doing this? It's not that I am unhappy by any means. In fact, this is probably one of the most happy times in my life. I have a strong faith, supportive husband, two precious kids, a nice home, loving parents, a good job..... I have a lot to be grateful for! I am doing this because.....why not? This could be fun, eye-opening, an area of personal growth, and perhaps I could spread happiness tips and tricks to others. And it will keep me doing something that contributes to my happiness......writing! So once a week I am going to do a blog post on the events of my own attempt at a happiness project.
In the introduction of the The Happiness Project called "Getting Started", Rubin states her 12 commandments. Ok, not like the ten commandments we got from God for which Moses brought forth to us down from Mount Sinai. Those aren't the commandments I am talking about, and I am not trying to be sacrilegious here. Its personal commandments that help you stay focused on what makes you, and keeps the people around you, happy. Personal mottos, maxims, adages, or mantras if you will. For those of you reading this who are of faith and/or a Christian as I am, this certainly can be favorite bible verses. Some of Rubin's 12 commandments were:
Act the way I want to feel
Be Polite and Be Fair
By the way, I am not trying to emulate Rubin here. I am still going to make my happiness project fall in line with my own personal values and faith. This is just an author whose work happens to resonate with me, and that I believed was very interesting and thought-provoking. If you read this book, its not advocating any type of religion or belief system. She does mention several aspects of religion and beliefs, but only as it applies to the contemplation of one's own happiness. She covers some aspects of Buddhism as it relates to happiness, but one of my favorite chapters is when Rubin describes her discovery and utter intrigue of the life of one of her happiness icons, or "spiritual master", whom happen to be St.Theresa of Lisieux "the Little Flower". Don't worry, I won't get preachy, but to not have some aspect of my faith infused in this project, well, it would be set up for failure. It would fail because it wouldn't be truly me...which is the first commandment. Be Diana.
Take note that Rubin mentions pursuing happiness is not necessarily a selfish ambition. Two of my favorite quotes from her book regarding happiness:
“The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.”
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”
So here are my 12 commandments (and some of hers I liked so much that I stole them for my own):
Let Go, Let God
Just do it
Be grateful and content
Enjoy the process
Keep it Simple
Remember the Serenity Prayer
Be more generous
Spread joy and love
Throughout the book, she explains how she incorporates these personal commandments in her daily life and in the pursuit of understanding happiness. And I will explain mine as I go too.
The Happiness Project was a year long endeavor, January to December, with each month covering 12 different areas of life seeking or improving on happiness.
January: Boost Energy-Vitality
February: Remember Love-Marriage
March: Aim Higher- Career
April: Lighten Up- Parenthood
May: Be serious about play- Leisure
June: Make time for friends- Friendship
July: Buy Some Happiness- Money
August: Contemplate the Heavens- Eternity
September: Pursue a Passion- Books
October: Pay Attention-mindfulness
November: Keep a contented heart- attitude
December: Boot Camp Perfect- Happiness
So with the fresh start of new year, we will see how the Coulon Happiness Project goes! If you would like to read this book and start your own happiness project. Here is the link to the book on Amazon. Also I am curious if you came up with a personal commandment, maxim, mantra, scripture, or motto to live by, what would it or they be?