Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happiness Project: Commandments

About a month ago, I posted that I was starting a "Happiness Project".  When I first read the book in January, I jotted down all sorts of things that had jumped out at me.  The book's author had, in the course of her project, identified some commandments for herself.  Here are my "Commandments":

1.  Be Hannah.   The gist of this one is that, for example, if I don't like talk radio than admit that and move on; don't keep listening to 91.1 (MPR news) just because I think I should.  Or if I like a new album (hell-O Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues!!!) so much I want to listen to it over-and-over-and-over, go for it!   (P.S. I do like listening to talk radio... but not as much as tunes!)

2.  Spend out.  There is an example from the book that sums this rule up: there was a little girl who loved art and got a really nice art set for Christmas.  It was so nice she didn't use it, saving it for a really important project.  One day she came home from school to find out that her mom had thrown it away; the mom thought she didn't like it since she'd never used it.  I want to "spend" and use the things I have to make my life a bit more special every day.
3.  Make positive assumptions.  This one is tough!  Thankfully it is a big piece of our culture at work so I "see" it daily.  Rather then jumping to a negative (and usually wrong) conclusion, as myself "why would a rationale, reasonable person do ABC?"  (the book Crucial Conversations is a great resource for a similar concept: the stories we tell ourselves.)

4.  Act the way I want to feel.  Otherwise known as "faking it" ... until it real.  There is no shame in putting on a happy face.  And there was a psychology experiment done once (there is probably more than 1!) that showed that when people had to smile for X minutes, their mood actually improved. 

5.  Acknowledge the reality of people's feelings.  I'm realizing that I'm not as good as this as I think.  In fact, I'm kind of a snoot sometimes and get exasperated pretty darn quick with folks who aren't "with me".   I think this one ties into #3 - positive assumptions - in that I need to ask why a person would be feeling XYZ and what part did I play?
6.  Make mistakes.  All the best and most inspirational stories have a pretty serious element of risk - the upside of which is success; the downside, failure.  The key is learning from the mistakes so that I'm able to learn from all the opportunities out there.
7.  Stop buying useless crap.  Can we please define "useless"?  Ha!  This isn't about "cutting back" or saving; its about buying things that actually make me feel good, for more than 1 second.  This one is linked to spending out.   I want to focus more on buying quality things that I get joy from, every time rather than the "hit" of a quick buy.
8. Make a memory.  Slow down, even stop, and take note of the big and small things going on around me.  And I mean, literally, take note. Because already my memory is fading.  That is part of this blog's job and why I'm posting more.

9.  Imagine the eulogy.   We've all probably heard this one before.  Do I want to be remembered as the crabby task master, who slaved at work and home and who doesn't remember milestones?  OR do I want to be remembered as someone who handled life's ups and downs gracefully, was kind and considerate all the time, etc?
10.  Ask for help.  For those of you who know me, you probably know this is hard for me to do.  Again, I blame my Virgo-type A-oldest child syndrome on this.  And I need to recognize that there will be ebbs and flows to life's craziness and asking for help, be it having Troy grocery shop (EEEK!), getting a cleaning lady, talking to my boss about priorities, is OK and better than the alternative.

WHEW!  While I've thought about the rules themselves, I haven't thought much about what they really mean.   


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