Friday, January 6, 2012

The Happiness Project: half way through reading


I'm loving working through The Happiness Project.

So much that Gretchen, the author says rings true with me.

She initiates the project because even though her life is as she "planned" and everything is "perfect" she still doesn't feel happy.

It's not like depression ... just blah.

I very much relate to that.

I may have some reason to be disappointed and frustrated etc currently but overall ... we are healthy in body, mind, and relationships, we are pursuing dreams and every day we are making great strides towards our goals. All happy, happy.

But usually I feel frustrated about how much I haven't been able to do in a day.

I've never been a "live in the moment" kind of person - more goal/future oriented.

Energy is the first thing Gretchen tackles in her pursuit of happiness.

This means things like exercising, eating healthy, getting enough rest. Gretchen decides to get to bed early to maximize her sleeping opportunity.

I'm super excited about exercise, running, in particular.

I have a whole bookmark folder dedicated to running.

And then there comes the part where leaving the house and actually putting foot to pavement happens.

Not so enthusiastic.
I tried when I first got the vffs.
It last three runs.

Besides, it's snowy and icy and cold outside these days.

Maybe I'll take up this exercise thing called running when we're into warmer weather.

My philosophy has always been that I don't want to do exercise just for the sake of doing exercise - there should be a purpose.

In Possum Living the author puts forward that most of the world's problems can be dealt with through running - not jogging - full steam ahead RUNNING. How many adults really give it all they've got and sprint as fast as they can? So this is something I want to do. Some other day.

Healthier diet.

I can do that.

Except for the part where I can't.

But generally we have a healthy diet well steeped in local, whole, unprocessed foods.

Oh and I'll work on getting enough rest.

Good idea.

I go to bed early.

Ark Boy wakes up for an hour straight at ten minute intervals.

The next half hour Farm Girl takes a turn.

Then the dog wakes up whining for an hour.

I turn the hall light on for Ark Boy so he isn't scared.

I get him a drink.

I fix his blankets.

I fix Farm Girl's blankets.

I get her a drink.

I turn the hall light off because it's too bright for Farm Girl.

I bring the dog out and she explodes with crazy poop.

I can't fall back asleep.

6:30am finally asleep.

Farm Girl wakes up at 7am demanding that the day start immediately.

I curse Gretchen and her going to sleep early.

She obviously doesn't have kids who wake up incessantly.

She later confesses grouchiness due to one of her children being up frequently one night.


So she does know.

The chapter on Marriage was helpful because this past year has been the hardest on our marriage.
Something to do with an incredible jump in our stress level, the change in our lifestyle (which lead to a change in our parenting roles), and the demands of our new life ...

I think in the end we want what is best for the other person and that leads to us both giving 100% effort into this relationship. Relationships are most important - people are most important - and our relationship with each other is the ultimate relationship priority.
As far as Gretchen's book, it was incredibly enlightening to read the realization that when she's doing something "for him" (laundry, dishes, shopping) it's not actually for him or he'd do it himself - she's doing it because she wants to (the laundry pile has got to the point where it drives her crazy). This switch in thinking allows Gretchen (or me) to not build resentment towards her/my partner. The other important piece that I got from this (and remember) was consciously choosing to do kind and thoughtful acts for your partner. This was something enthusiastically pursued in the beginning but perhaps now is something that is on the back burner while other life issues demand attention more fervently.


At this point the story of the book became pretty engrossing and so the speed of my reading increased dramatically decreasing my ability to reflect.
Just an excuse to read this one again at some point.

In the chapter on Parenthood the overarching message was: enjoy the moment, don't worry about another check mark (or in my case a crossing-off) on the to-do list. Does it really matter if the blog was updated or the laundry was folded or the client was emailed within two minutes of sending their email to you?
What does matter is that two extra minutes of snuggling, the game of Monopoly Jr., or the ten minutes of putting together a lego castle. That's what's important.

On leisure- the struggle with this whole project is: Is one being selfish by pursuing their own happiness? The answer over and over is "no" - when you are happy you spread happy (a non-selfish and good thing). Leisure is hard because it doesn't cross anything off the to-do list. But without that "fun" in between ... what's the point of the to-do list? This chapter was about giving permission to ditch the to-do list and go have fun - just to have fun. I recently told Ark Boy that most adults forget how to play (just like Peter Pan said!) and it's true. I don't really "get" how to "play" legos or whatever with him. But maybe I'm just out of practice. And I've not been reading as much because "I don't have time" - I added it to my to-do list - now I have time. One of the things I'm so thankful for in our life is that we are actively pursuing our passions and things that we find fun. Which Gretchen also has managed to do and leads to the next chapter ...

... on work. Gretchen says she wants to look forward to Monday morning as much as Friday afternoon. For us our work is pretty constant - but we want it to be that way. We want our work to be our life and our life our work. We don't want to be anxious about getting to work because we have so much to do OR chomping at the bit to get home because we want to see our family and cook a meal. We love our photography and we love our farming and we're excited to be able to do that along with our home life.

The last chapter half way through the book is friendship. Gretchen's goal was to enrich long term friendships, deepen active friendships, and pursue new friendships. I love these goals and feel that these are actively pursued throughout my day-to-day life. The last year my ability to interact with other humans has been marginal. Something to pursue more enthusiastically again when some other things feel settled.

Throughout the book I've enjoyed reading Gretchen's experience, reflecting on my own and thinking through future life goals.

I keep thinking: as soon as we get all the farm/house/life sorted out I can really focus on this!

But that's the point I think: this is my life.

Not tomorrow.

Not next month.


I'm trying to remember that by crafting, reading, writing, playing with the kids, watching, photographing, emailing friends, and more.

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