Happiness Wednesday!

Last week, after offering a bribe, eight people agreed to join in the local version of the international Happiness Project. Congratulations Carolyn on winning the prize (which is still undisclosed as Carolyn is out of town and won’t be receiving said prize until Aug. 19).

The good news is that eight people joined – two of them in Tucson, one in Phoenix and the other five out of state. that is one advantage to a virtual happiness group: You don’t have to live in the same area b/c you meet online. So, how is everyone doing on their resolutions and/or coming up with personal commandments? Is anyone confused between the two? I will admit I am. My commandments, I’ve found, are sort of like my resolutions. Which probably means my resolutions aren’t specific enough.

This list is TOO LONG
This list is TOO LONG

In addition, I am feeling a little overwhelmed trying to focus on six guiding principles (aka commandments) every day while also trying to remember the one resolution I should work on for the month. So what I decided, was that for me to be happy, I can’t feel stressed. And keeping a LONG LIST of what I need to do to be happier makes me UNhappier.

So I did some adjustment, the first thing being deciding to only focus on one thing each week. For me, that one thing was my third commandment, being kind. To really focus on it, I committed to (and maybe this is actually a resolution) writing down every time I said something that was unkind AND writing down kind things I did. I will admit that I didn’t always write everything down, but the fascinating thing was that just telling myself before an encounter with someone, “Remember to write down how kind you were” actually made me more aware of my behavior and helped me, most of the time, to be more kind. Which naturally made the person be more kind to me, and the happiness just spread willy nilly all over the place!

The other thing I did was write down my six commandments (Be Renee; accept imperfection; be kind; let anger go; do the next thing; act as if) and keep them in easy view at my desk. That meant I saw them multiple times each day and that helped me keep them in the foreground of my mind so even though I was practicing, primarily, being kind, I also noted that the others cropped up throughout the day. For instance, when feeling overwhelmed, I would tell myself to “Just do the next thing” and if I was irritated, I’d hear a tiny voice say, “Remember to let anger go.”

Overall, then, I’d say then that the week was a success in my step toward being a happier person through the commandments and resolutions. But learning – and accepting – that I needed to focus on one of the commandments (while not completely ignoring the others) at a time was very helpful in not making me feel like a failure (which, I suppose, goes to my “accept imperfection” commandment!).

So, I’m interested in hearing what y’all’s experience was this past week with resolutions and/or commandments. Do you have any tips to share? Any insights gained? And, if you can remember, what was the thing that made you happiest this past week?

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5 comments

  1. Thanks for the prize which I am looking forward to receiving later this month.  One of my commandments is  “Don’t place blame on yourself” which is definitely  a way to keep yourself happy.   For example, is you forgot to turn off the light in the bathroom  and only discovered it hours later, don’t blame yourself (and become thereby unhappy), just turn if off and say in humor and acceptance of your own mistake –“better late than never.”  I grew up with blame being put onto me a lot, so I am working very hard to undo that one.
    Being kind to all is a good resolution and after a while will become second nature.  Being true to me was best experience this week.
    Smile and enjoy life.

  2. I’m going at this very slowly. My first commandment is: Look beyond yourself. It’s been really easy during the past week while I’ve been recovering from a broken ankle to just think about my own needs. But as someone who has done a lot of volunteer work, I know I’m always happier when I’m looking beyond myself at what other people need and at what experiences and learnings other people can introduce me to. So onward I go, looking beyond.
    Maybe I’ll come up with number 2 by next Wednesday.

  3. Hey Renee,
    First off, thanks for starting this happiness project group. I think that’s the first step, in fact, to being happy: surrounding yourself with those who are happy or joyful, which you doing simply through initiating such a project. When I say joy, I mean that inmost peace that transcends everyday disappointments. Seeking out and being near those people who truly possess this inner joy, which is not dependent on money or other exterior things, is a goal that I’ve been working on for a while.
    Honestly, I didn’t really set out this week with a happiness plan, though I know that was the suggestion. But I have taken some steps that have aided my happiness that I feel inclined to share . When certain negative issues/conflicts have come up, instead of panicking or falling into an emotional heap, I have worked on tapping resources to help me think it through. And therein lies two central clues to happiness. One, we don’t have to move through this life alone. We need others, no matter our circumstances. People who have others in their life with whom to share the journey are happier. Two, it can take a while to build our happiness quota. For example, one of the resources who helped me this week is someone I pulled into my path several years ago. In other words, if we’ve been living unhappily, finding happiness could take a while and  be built one step at a time. I think Beth is on to something important. We don’t have to figure it all out immediately. It’s going to be a slow evolving. Small steps along the way will lead to some big changes early on. Another example: I am leaving soon for a writing retreat, set in motion months ago. That is contributing to a happy week as I anticipate this time away, creating a happier me. Well, that’s enough for now. Be happy! 🙂 It takes fewer facial muscles to frown than smile, so why not?

    • Roxanne and Beth – I think these are good ideas, really, things we need to consider: Allowing ourselves to need others and accepting happiness may have to be built one step at a time!

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