Happiness. I’ve never given it a lot of thought. I always considered myself quite a happy human being. With a happy life, a happy boyfriend, and two happy cats. Why think about happiness?
I think the happiness-thoughts started to come after we (that is: happy me, happy boyfriend and the two happy cats) moved from The Netherlands to Gran Canaria. Which is quite a happy place to live, I may add. I had recently graduated from university, marking the end of a six-and-half-year period of reading literature, gaining knowledge, and writing papers. Which I loved, just to be clear. It actually marked the end of my academic life in general, because with the move, I basically gave up on ever getting a PhD-position in my field. It meant the end of living that city life (6 years), working at a shoe store (7.5 years), and hanging out with friends (of 2, 6, 15, and even 23 years).
A lifestyle Change
The good news was that I never had to be cold again, because Gran Canaria has a subtropical climate. I could also start working on that dream career, which is to make money working from home — preferably with a small creative business. Plus, we could go to beach all year round, we could have cocktails and BBQs, and the cats could play outside for the first time in their lives. And if that dream career didn’t take off immediately, let’s be realistic here, I would have loads of time to learn Spanish and read all the books I never got round to reading.
All of that happened. Except I may have failed slightly on the learning-Spanish front #dontjudge. And Winters turn out to be pretty cold here too when you don’t have central heating. However, going to all the beaches, having all the cocktails, and attending all the BBQs soon became overwhelming for a self-proclaimed (and also very much others-proclaimed) introvert like me.The total change of routine (I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed OCD-sufferer too) and the complete absence of a new routine, quickly made me feel anxious. On top of that, tons of trips, travels, and visiting friends and family members left me no mental space to get my shit together. And that dream career, which (indeed)wasn’t a complete hit from the beginning, threw some money concerns in the mix as well.
So what happened most of all, and what I didn’t prepare myself for, is that the complete lifestyle change, multiplied by loads of time, equaled a shitstorm of thoughts. Mostly about — you guessed it — happiness. I live on a subtropical island, I make money from home in my pajamas (in a great home with a great view and a palm tree in the backyard, just to give you an idea), and I have a loving boyfriend-of-8-years and two furry friends living the dream with me. I have the beach, cocktails, BBQs, bla bla, all of that stuff. Why am I not beside myself with happiness?
The Happiness Project
That’s where The Happiness Project comes in. The author of this book, Gretchen Rubin, finds herself in a pretty similar situation. Even though she isn’t particularly unhappy or depressed, she wonders why she isn’t happier. She therefore decides to start The Happiness Project, a year-long project to make herself happier. The matter-of-fact way in which she takes on the job, has given me a tremendous amount of inspiration. I was sold on the project already on page three and I haven’t even finished the book yet. Gretchen’s method is simple: she reads a lot about the subject of happiness, and applies all the happiness theories that seem to be worth it to her daily life. For a year. It’s actually a lot more structured than that, but I’ll get into that in my next blogpost about The Twelve Commandments.
I read a lot too. And mostly non-fiction. Because I believe you should never stop learning. And I believe reading is one of the best ways to increase knowledge. I also believe there’s nothing wrong with a good popular science book by the way. Just like there’s nothing wrong with a good personal blog. Like Gretchen, I find other peoples’ personal experiences with regard to all things happiness incredibly interesting. And like Gretchen, I love talking (or in this case: writing) about everything I learn. It helps me to turn information into knowledge and stay on track with my personal goals. So, there you have it: a Happiness Project documented on this blog. :)
I hope you will love it and follow along on my journey. Let me know in the comments if you do!