I usually have long lists of new books I want to read, and while I do have that, I also have several books I want to re-read. Some of them were so thought-provoking that I knew I’d get more out of them on a second read, and some of them just put me on a good train of thought and it would do me good to revisit them.
In the second category, I decided to re-read Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. I loved this book and her previous title, The Happiness Project, when I read them a couple years ago. She writes about changing our perspectives and mindsets (not big trips or life changes), and this is attainable for anyone.
Obviously, reading about someone’s happiness triggers is highly personal. Some of the things that make her happy would make me decidedly unhappy, but I can learn from her insights. I read with a pen in hand and found myself jotting down ideas of what makes for happiness for me.
Sometimes it’s fun to put words to the obvious and maybe even what you already do. By spelling it out, I can be more intentional and understand myself better.
There are a few ways to look at the idea of happiness that she mentions: what adds to our feeling good, how can I eliminate sources of feeling bad, and how can I feel right? She also comes up with a list of her own happiness rules, truths that help her to make good decisions.
What are some sources of feeling good for me? My family- making them feel special and loved, and adventures together. I love challenges (No Spend Month or no desserts for a month or other silly ideas). Trying new things makes me happy, be it recipes or a new skill. I love doing creative things and anything I can make with my hands (that is not too intricate). I love solo time in nature (hello, long trail runs!). I love routines, and I also love mini adventures. Being simple and minimalist and frugal also makes me extremely happy.
By knowing these things, I can make sure I am taking time and effort towards them in my life, because they aren’t always the things that would happen naturally.
How can I eliminate sources of feeling bad? Included are things that are broken, nagging tasks, and areas of my life/home that just don’t work. If I am slightly proactive, I could probably fix many of these things. That doesn’t mean that I will never be unhappy, but there is no reason in some cases to have the same frustrations over and over.
Examples: Our tools are in three different places, so I often have to look in all three places to find something (why aren’t they all in one place?). Our fencing for animals needs improved, and although we did some improvements last year (which helped), whenever the animals get out, I feel like we should have already dealt with it. Since fencing costs thousands of dollars, I would love to prioritize improvements as possible.
Nagging tasks are a big area of unhappiness for me. Last fall, I resolved to do one project a day, a tactic that worked well. Of course there are a long list of projects, big and small, still out there. I am not doing well in that area right now.
One happiness truth is that happiness doesn’t always make you happy in the moment. By doing a distasteful task for a few minutes, in the end I am happier, likely for days after, than if I had avoided that task. By making that phone call I’m dreading, I can put it behind me and feel relieved that it is over.
So, in order to be happy, I need to make myself unhappy…for a few minutes each day. To boil it down: Just do it.
This is also true in the area of leaving home. Happiness and real living are just a small step outside of my comfort zone. On Friday night, I just want to hang out in my jammies and it’s hard to get everyone dressed in winter gear after dinner and drive to the Art Walk once a month. However, the next day and for the rest of the month, I am always happy that we went instead of staying home.
At the Winter Carnival, I could have just walked around and experienced the festival as an outsider. By riding the Ferris wheel and sledding down the hill on a tube (neither of which would be my first choice), I actually experienced the carnival and my day was much more fun.
This past weekend, John built a snowcave in our yard. It’s super cool. I don’t like small spaces, but I put that aside for half an hour, and one night we all went out and lit a candle in the snowcave just before bedtime and I read the kids some books. By taking that small step outside of my comfort zone, we made a fun memory and I’m so glad I did it.
I need to keep being intentional here- the most fun times are always just a little bit hard to get myself started on!
Do you have any happiness truths? Do you also struggle to do things and not just be an observer? How do you encourage yourself in this?