Posted in Happiness Project

Not Exactly Listless

After Bubba ate his muffin and sipped his morning Coke Zero™, I asked him (because you don’t ask Bubba anything before he’s had some sugar and caffeine), “What are your plans for today?”

Bubba:  I have a LOT to do.  I have to check on reservations for my buddy’s bachelor party, get snacks like pretzels and chips, I have to check in at the gym, and I have to buy a whole ton of stuff . . . (his voice drifted off, gazing, as if reading his to-do list from the ceiling)

Me:  Okay.  Because all I really have on my list is to go to the grocery store and do some self-reflection.

Bubba:  You gonna go look in the mirror?

I don’t think I’ve really spelled out what a compulsive-obsessive list-maker I am.  I have as many lists as ways of accumulating them.  I use Springpad, Out Of Milk, Mindjet Maps, FlyLady, ColorNote, DroidDia, Netflix, Habit Goal Monitor, Pinterest and good old fashioned pen to paper.  This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the different lists and gadgets I have for listing out ways to eat and exercise.

All my life I’ve looked for formulas to life.  Everyone has one to sell, read, download or listen to, and if I could only find the one that works for me, life would be simple, right?

Lists found from a brief walk around my house.  Not a reenactment.
Lists found from a brief walk around my house.
(Not a reenactment)

An article titled The art of list-making by BBC News mentions compulsive list-making.  I couldn’t have written it better myself, and so to truly understand my thought process, you must read the following:

There are several stages to writing a list.

First there is the gentle thrill of anticipation as I contemplate the pristine paper in front of me. I may not yet have a subject for my list, but just the thought of one gives me a sense of purpose.

Second there is the light-headed buzz that gradually develops into bliss, euphoria and an all-consuming calm.

Third comes the extraordinary sense of satisfaction from having created a rigid timetable of impossible tasks that has taken a disproportionate amount of time and thought.

It doesn’t matter that I will never look at it again.

Psychologists say that obsessive compulsive list makers (I guess that includes me) are trying to create an illusion of control in otherwise chaotic lives.

Eero Saarinen
Design genius Eero Saarinen’s to-do list included changing light bulbs

My compulsion has now been spoken aloud.  It does get worse at times of hormonal mutiny.  Following or falling off of my plans can also coincide with hormonal uprising.  With this in mind, you must now know that I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  This is list-making on a grand scale.  Caution must be exerted along the way.

It is The Happiness Project that inspired my Best Practices page, which is indeed a list I have collected through life experience.  Gretchen calls them Commandments and Secrets to Adulthood.  Not being a religious fan, commandments sounded too . . well . . religious, but also restrictive.  Once I renamed it Best Practices, I had a hard time sorting the secrets to adulthood from the best practices, so I joined them into one list.  Gretchen is very reassuring about making this project your own and to be honest, I need less lists not more.

So far, so good.  My Best Practices list is a list of things I already, for the most part, do.  It is good to have a list of actions to remind myself to keep doing, celebrate that I am the kind of person who behaves this way, and (because I am a good mother) nag my kids to do.

There will be more posts about my journey, but as you know (or will know if you just tuned in), I meander through life.  Since my blog follows me wherever I go, so too will you, my reader.  There is much of life to explore!  More lists to make, more food to taste, more vegetables to grow, more sorry excuses about which to rant!  So this isn’t going a straight line from beginning to the end of this book.

I subscribed to Gretchen’s newsletter, “liked” her on Facebook, and followed her on Twitter.  I downloaded the e-book, then forgot I did, so I bought it as an audio-book.  And as I listened, I really wished I had a hard copy so I could highlight various excerpts, so . . . you guessed it . . . I ordered a hard copy.  So much for my How-To-Be-A-Minimalist list.

I’m seriously afraid she’s going to take out a restraining order.

Peace . . .


Trying to make sense of it all and . . . for the most part . . . doing it.

16 thoughts on “Not Exactly Listless

  1. I liked that book too and I actually felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend when I finished. I read it last year and sometimes I find myself quoting her. My favorite was “the days are long, but the years are short” I do better when I make lists too, although I don’t have quite as many as you do. 🙂 PS Bubba is too funny!

    1. Did you make a resolution every month? I think there are a lot of great quotes. Did you know the years are short story is on you tube?

      There are a few times I do better with lists. For instance, I have mastered my overnight packing list. But it goes beyond efficient. I can spend a whole afternoon coming up with lists I will never look at again.

      1. I did not know that the video was on you tube, I will have to check it out. I did not make a resolution every month…I wasn’t that committed. 🙂 I don’t usually make lists that I don’t use and I don’t use them every day, although I forget a lot, so maybe I should. I have two lists going at the current moment. The first is what I canned and how many I have of each, and if I give one away I cross out the old and write down the new number… far anyway. The second list is for book club, I am trying to collect everybody’s email,snail mail,birthday, and phone numbers, that way we don’t need a phone chain if something happens. I am glad you are enjoying The Happiness Project, I liked it enough that I picked it for one of my turns at book club last year. You can never be too happy!

      2. I would say, generally speaking, I agree with you. Although I know someone who is so happy it’s like being around a six-year old, and it is pretty annoying. But yes, I can never be too happy! 😀

  2. You are cracking me up. I’ll have to add that book to my Amazon list. Or should I put it on the things I still want list. I keep lists in my bed, on my phone, tablet, in a notebook in my car and on my laptop. There are tablets all around the house and on the side of the fridge just in case. My kids make fun of me but I remember things for them. They don’t do lists. Loved this post.:)

    1. Thanks! I was a very efficient mom when the kids were in school. I chalk it all up to my lists. But then I would turn around and forget to pick them up from practice. Ooh I hate that coach stink-eye! It was because I was so tired from following my lists all day that I would zone out playing computer solitaire or something.

  3. I didn’t take much from Gretchen’s book. It felt as if she was forcing happiness and missing the process of spontaneously finding her happiness. As for lists, my first reaction was to say I don’t make lists. I don’t make to-do lists or keep a schedule of appointments now that it’s just me, but I do have lists,, just not on paper. There is the wish list on Amazon, the Christmas present idea list, and folders of creative ideas for future projects (does that count?). And then there is pinterest where I keep ideas I’d like to try at some point.

    1. Ooh! You are on Pinterest? I must find you and follow! Yes, those all count. I didn’t realize it until I started thinking about it. But all those gadgets and websites and wish lists count. When I see a list on a website, I just get euphoric. And a blank piece of paper is just BEGGING to be listed on!

      1. My Pinterest boards are all over the place. The grandkids have their own boards because it’s a safe way to teach them the alphabet (spelling) and use of a keyboard.

    1. Recovering Listoholic. I like that. Thank you for stopping by, and I do hope you return to keep me in line! I wonder if there is a 12-step program for that . . .

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