Monday, December 31, 2012

Making the resolutions for my Happiness Project

Hi everyone! Okay, remember how yesterday I told you that I'll be doing a happiness project this year? Well, I'm still pumped up about it and today I want to explain what exactly that means.

In a nutshell: a happiness project is a project to boost your personal happiness. (Surprise!)

You identify the things in your life that make you happy and the things that make you unhappy, and then you do the things that make you happy and stop doing the things that make you unhappy.

So simple! And yet so brilliant.

A writer named Gretchen Rubin thought of the idea several years ago while riding home on a city bus. She created a plan, did her own year-long happiness project, really realized that you can work on making yourself happier, and wrote a book about the whole experience. It's a great and inspiring read.

In "A Note to the Reader" at the beginning of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin explains: "A 'happiness project' is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions."

Obviously, it's essential that you keep your resolutions. Gretchen emphasizes several times in her book that a key part of keeping her resolutions was reviewing them daily and keeping track of them with her "Resolutions Chart." I'm planning on making a chart tomorrow on Excel, printing it up, and putting it on my wall where I can see it.

If you'd like to do a happiness project, either big or small, I think that'd be awesome. I agree with what Gretchen Rubin says at the end of The Happiness Project: "Each person's happiness project will be unique, but it's the rare person who can't benefit from starting one." If you do decide to start one, either with your New Year's Resolutions or sometime later in the year, let me know! We can be like running buddies, except resolutions buddies.

When making my resolutions for this next year, I used Rubin's very helpful tips at the end of The Happiness Project.  She says: "To decide what resolutions to make...answer the following questions:

- What makes you feel good? What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
- What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in
  your life?
- Is there any way in which you don't feel right about your life? Do you wish you could change your
  job, city, family situation, or other circumstances? Are you living up to your expectations for
  yourself? Does your life reflect your values?
- Do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth? In what elements of your life do you find
  progress, learning, challenge, improvement, and increased mastery?"

She continues: "Answering these questions provides a good road map to the kind of changes you might consider. Once you've decided what areas need work, identify specific, measurable resolutions that will allow you to evaluate whether you're making progress."

Using Gretchen's questions, I made a list of the things that make me happy and make me unhappy. After I had all my answers, I was able to sort them into twelve categories (one for each month of the year) and make concrete resolutions to follow for each month.

My monthly themes for the coming year are: Spirituality, Health, Attitude, Books, Friendship, Appearance, Marriage, Nature, Family, Family History, and Study. Each month I'll be adding the resolutions from the previous month to the new resolutions, so that in December I'll be doing all of them. Woot!

So that's what a happiness project is! A solid, laid-out plan of making and keeping resolutions that will increase your personal happiness.


  1. got a group of women together!! I started a week early and can not believe the change.

    1. Awesome! I'd love to hear updates about how it goes for you!


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