How to give shape to a Happiness Project? What is happiness and how do you gain more of it? According to the multiple definitions of ‘happiness’ researchers and philosophers have been adopting, we apparently barely comprehend the term. However, in Gretchen Rubin’s words:
“Even people who can’t agree on what it means to be ‘happy’ can agree that most people can be ‘happier’, according to their own particular definition. I know when I feel happy. That was good enough for my purposes.”1
Since I figured that was a splendid definition, I decided to adopt it as well. I know when I feel happy. Therefore, I also know what makes me feel happy. (Also, did you see what I did there, with the footnote? Talking about what makes me feel happy…)
The Happiness Project’s Methodology
Not to be all too academically here, but before we dive into the good stuff, I’ve got some things to say about this project’s methodology. Gretchen covers, in her Happiness Project, different areas of her life. These are important areas that she thinks need improvement in order for her to be happier. Each month, with the help of specific resolutions (and a ‘resolutions chart’ that gets me more excited than it should), she tackles another area. And the challenge is that it’s accumulative. So everything that’s implemented in one month, goes on top of what was implemented the month before.
Gretchen has a lot of tools to keep her going. (Personally I think her list of ‘Secrets of Adulthood’ is best.) However, I decided to keep it slightly simpler. I borrowed Gretchen’s idea of writing up ‘Twelve Commandments’, a set of rules to live a happy life — according to me. Each of my personal Twelve Commandments correspond to an area I wanna focus on during my Happiness Project. Each month, I’ll tackle one. Each month therefore comes with its own set of resolutions. For clarity’s sake (and because I can’t come up with them all at once), I’ll introduce those separately every time a new month is about to start.
Coming up with twelve different areas to focus on (or actually eleven, since December is dedicated to mastering the art of Being Happy), wasn’t too difficult. Deciding in what order they should go, was. I want to change everything for the better right now. I don’t want to wait dealing with myself and my relationships until the second part of the year!? However, after a long debate with my inner self, I came to the conclusion that I probably won’t be able to focus on the more abstract areas if I don’t address the practical ones first.
January was very much decided for by the fact that I want to learn Spanish ASAP, preferably before we leave Gran Canaria again (we don’t know when that will be). Money comes next, in February. This may surprise some, because money doesn’t buy happiness and bla bla bla, but I think not having to worry about money does. I also want to address the topic of money mindset early on, so I can benefit from that in March, which is dedicated to work. April and May are perfect to focus on sports and food, because in my opinion, Summer bodies are usually made last-minute, in Spring. After that, it’s time for a complete home makeover in June and July, before I can start investing in me in August. Then I think it’s about time for some fun and relaxation in September. And only when I’m fully zen, introvert me will, in October and November, deal with relationships and love. Perfectly in time to spend the holidays in December with loved-ones.
Feel free to join me on this happiness journey and let me know what would be your Twelve Commandments!
Photo: Evening stroll, Gran Canaria, Spain
Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project. Tenth Anniversary Edition.