As I was living at my in-law’s, right before our move, my mother-in-law found a book in the Little Library on the corner of her street. It was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. One of my goals this year was to read more, so she passed it on to me to help with my goal.
As I read, I was struck by how fitting it was for my life in the moment. We were about to make a huge move for happiness, but her project was based around happiness where you are. Finding everyday happiness despite your circumstance or situation. Not all people can pack up and move across the world, like I was doing. Going into this move as a fresh start, I thought following some of her techniques would help with a fresh mindset as well.
Here were the bits I found particularly inspiring:
- Do things for yourself and you’ll never expect praise.
- Failure is a sign of ambition.
- If you can do it in a minute or less, do it now.
- Doing new things and challenging yourself makes you happier.
- Just a ten minute walk triggers the body’s relaxation response, reducing stress, and boosting your energy and mood.
- Create a group for mutual improvement where everyone is there to better one another.
- Find the things you find fun and do more of them.
- You can have anything you want…but you can’t have EVERYTHING.
- People tend to be happier when they are with other people, even introverts.
- When meeting new people ask lots of questions (people love talking about themselves).
- When meeting new people think, “Is this someone who could be my friend?” Rather than immediately judging them.
- Help people think big by pushing them to see they can achieve the thing they’ve been talking about doing for years. Encourage action.
- In money and health, lack of them brings much more unhappiness than possessing them.
- Cut people some slack. Always try to assume the best intentions.
- Stop saying “you know” “like” “um” and “just” when talking. Slow down and think more carefully about your words before speaking.
- Stop complaining. It’s a waste of time and only brings people down. Try to find the positive.
- We react to the bad more strongly than the comparable good.
What I loved about Gretchen was that she was realistic. She knew herself and didn’t push herself to achieve anything unreasonable. For instance, she tried a laughter yoga class. Even though she had told herself to try it three times before forming judgement, after just one visit, she knew it wasn’t for her and moved on. Some days were just bad days. Though she had the resolutions in the back of her head, they couldn’t come out of her in a productive way. In that case, she just accepted it. It was about working toward long-term change.
Since reading the book, I’ve tried to keep her ideas in the back of my mind. It’s not always easy, but, like her, I am working toward a more long-term, happier me. This book was very inspirational and I recommend it to anyone working toward self-improvement.