Challenges, Reflections, The Year of Happiness

The Happiness Project

No doubt most of you are more up to speed with the book The Happiness Project than I am, but I only discovered it a short time ago and have been catching up via Gretchen Rubin’s blog.

I was inspired by the idea of deliberately attempting to be happier.  Perhaps that sounds a bit odd, but I’ve naively always relied on whatever was happening in life to generate the positive emotions associated with happiness.  Silly old me, it didn’t dawn on me that I could be actively doing something to encourage more joy, satisfaction and general good humour in my daily life.  Chalk that one up to a Homer moment – d’oh!

I have reserved a copy of the book from my local library and am now waiting to read more detail on Ms Rubin’s year of lifestyle experimentation.  In the meantime I thought I would implement a couple of very simple ideas in order to encourage more happiness.   The first of these is to take on board one of Rubin’s own Twelve Personal Commandments – Spend Out.   I have a particular need to do this, in different areas of life, but my first attempt to implement this will be in arguably my weakest area – books.

I love books.  I have a library addiction as I have mentioned before.  In line with my Year of Simplicity I think the idea of Spending Out will be a great helper with that.  No more clutter from piles of unread library books.  This will be a very good thing as my library books generate two separate and conflicting emotions.   It starts with the joy and anticipation of impending reading and learning when collecting and checking out the books in the library.  This is followed, eventually, by a feeling of guilt knowing that half or more of them will sit languishing in their pile until I must, absolutely must, return them.  There is no running from that guilty feeling as it raises its ugly head each and every time I look at my piles of books.

Spending it out will help me minimise that double edged sword of joy and guilt.  As well as being addicted to coming out of my local library with an armful of books, I also have a home library of books that have been stashed away but never quite read.  Some have been started, but put aside as I become distracted by another idea or another seductive book, often library interlopers.  So spending it out for me, for the remainder of March and the whole month of April, will involve no more library books and therefore no more guilty feelings.  In the place of the dual joy/guilt, I hope to put joy/satisfied achievement as I not only reduce the clutter of extra books, but also begin to delve into the partially or totally unread portion of my own library.

To begin the process I may as well start with the books that have been sitting on my bedside table for the past unmentionable number of months waiting for my attention to turn to them.

Spend Out goal #1 – read the following books before returning to the library for anything new:

  • The 4-Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss
  • Night Train to Lisbon – Pascal Mercier
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  • Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett

Who knows, if I manage this I might even manage to put together something of a book review.

The second idea that I have chosen is the Gratitude Journal.  This doubles as a Spend It Out idea too.  I love all things paper apparently, including dinky little diaries, nice stationery and large visual journals.  I may like paper, but my daily life is nearly all digitally focused so this will be a nice change.  I even get to indulge my love of fountain pens and interesting ink colours.  How much better could this get?

And that is the start of my Happiness Project.  I plan to add more as I learn more and instigate more. If you think it sounds like something fun for you to do, and want to join me then take a visit to Gretchen Rubin’s blog and consider signing up for the 2010 Year of Happiness challenge.

Wishing you all a Happy 2010.

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