Posted in Happiness Project

Blueprint of Happiness Recap #1

To answer the burning question “Have I found myself any happier?”  Oh, of course!  It is Autumn, and the air is crisp!  If there are two things that lift my spirit, they are the longer days of spring and the cooler days of fall.

The goal for September was to energize by following four guidelines in my Blueprint of Happiness.  Let’s take a look and see how it played out:

  • Get Outside – I found the fresh air and sunshine had the most positive impact on my attitude.  Of course, the weather has been sunny and comfortable.  Time will tell if I will find this as energizing in February.  In addition to our weekly jaunts to the dog park, I found time to sit outside and enjoy my senses, meander through nature, and work on a few projects out in my own yard.
  • Music – In my opinion there is too much talk radio broadcast in the morning.  I prefer to start my day with a song stuck in my head.  Of course, the goal was not to just listen to music, but to find something that moves me.  It really doesn’t matter how it moves me.  I want to cry, to dance, to do a little head-banging, and sometimes just sing along and laugh my butt off!  To feel emotion is to feel alive.  To feel alive is to reap happiness.
  • Run an Errand – It came as no surprise that trying to think of one errand every day, no matter how small, became laborious.  Within a week I had redefined the goal to “Complete Something.”  I patched a section of lawn.  I wrote a letter.  I bought ingredients and baked cookies.  I bought a light bulb for my oven.  Something did indeed get accomplished every day, and I am the better for it.
  • 15 minutes of Nothing – As predicted, this was the most difficult task to perform.  I found it easiest when combined with my goal to get outside.  Sitting with the sun on my face and watching the squirrels hop through the yards while doing nothing was lovely.  It reminded me of times past when people used to sit on the front porch at the end of the day.  It’s a perfect way to reconnect with your senses, which the world has become so adept at cutting off.


This month of October I have decided to connect with reality and truth.  Not the kind of truth where I’m going to ask Bubba if my jeans make my butt look big.  I will happily reside in that ignorance indefinitely.  The truth I seek is that which comes from spending time mindfully.  My daily intentions include:

  • Eat mindfully
  • Stop, Look, and Listen
  • Create a moment of truth (The Joy Diet by Martha Beck)

The first day that I went through the four steps for creating a moment of truth, I found myself sobbing.  It went like this:

Step 1:  Start with your daily dose of nothing

As usual, I spent my fifteen minutes taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood.  I looked at the timer three times before it finally went off.  While I enjoyed the break, I was ready for the alarm to sound so I could continue the tasks of the evening.

Step 2:  Ask and answer these questions:

What am I feeling?  I kind of wish I had spent those fifteen minutes accomplishing something.

What hurts?  I hate that the days are so short that doing something for myself feels like a waste of time.

What is the painful story I’m telling?  I’m wasting my life working for a paycheck, and just surviving from one day to the next.

Is my painful story working?  Yes, I am tricking myself into thinking that my life is being used against my will.

Can I think of another story that might work better?  The things I choose to do matter.  Even if I am doing something I’m not thrilled about, I make other people happy by making them laugh, or treating them right.  Look at what a good life Barney had while he was just hanging around with me.  He was such a good dog, and I made sure he knew it every day he was with me . . . .

 . . . and that’s when the sobbing started.

The exposure of this lie I had been telling myself — the truth — set me free.  I may not be able to choose to stop working for a paycheck, but I can choose how I affect the people around me.  And in liberating that reality, the grief for the recent loss of my dog surfaced unexpectedly.

Step 3:  Offer compassion to your inner lying scumbag.  

May you be well.  May you be happy.  May you find peace.


The thermometer is dropping and I have taken to wrapping myself in a scarf and blanket, and sitting on the front step with a cup of tea.  Eventually I become awkwardly aware that a smile has settled on my face.  I quite like it, and instead of setting the timer to make sure I fulfill my fifteen minute session, I now set it so that I don’t forget to stop.


Posted in Happiness Project

Blueprint of Happiness

September brings another year for me.  It’s the month I was born.  In more recent years this has not been a time of celebration as much as a time of reflection on growth, possibilities, and life.  It seems like the perfect time to create a Happiness Project guided by the book of the same name by Getchen Rubin.


Every project needs a blueprint.  Plotting a project takes time.  You need to look at it from all angles, decide what should come first, and what is the best time for each step.  As it turns out, a Happiness Project is no different.

I used four things to generate my blueprint:

  1. The First Splendid Truth from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project
  2. A list I like to call “Things That Make Me Happy” — I know — creative, right?
  3. A quiz that Gretchen calls How Well Do You Know Yourself? which I would recommend to anyone contemplating a happiness project, or not.
  4. The Joy Diet by Martha Beck


At some point, I ran headlong into the conflict between what makes me happy and what I think should make me happy.  For instance, all the experts say exercising will boost my energy, suppress appetite, and lift my mood.  They also tell me if I don’t like exercise, I just haven’t found the right one.  I like playing with the dogs, bicycling, gardening, and taking walks; none to the point of exhaustion.  I have more interesting things to do with my time.  Exercise makes me hungry, tired, and cranky.  It’s right up there with doing laundry.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to exercise.  Moderate exercise allows me to sleep better and keeps my joints mobile.  And doing laundry keeps me looking and smelling fresh.  Yet I’m never going to confuse either of them with happiness, and if I never had to do them again it would be okay with me!

By focusing on something I think should bring me happiness but doesn’t, I am neglecting something else that actually does.  It occurs to me that this is how a Happiness Project works.  I will be focusing on the things that make me happy.  If I tell you to notice the red things in the room, you will instantly see them, whereas a minute ago you did not realize they were there.  As I focus on the things that make me happy and the opportunities to create happiness, those things will appear in places they were once camouflaged.

I like finding myself one year older every September.  The temperatures are usually cooling and the humidity is dropping.  School busses once again follow their paths, the fruit is heavy on the trees, the garden swells with harvest.  It is a good time for me to focus on energizing.

Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.
Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.

Here will be my daily intentions:

  • Get Outside – That sounds simple enough, but some days I’m only outside long enough to walk the dogs and transfer from my car to work or home.  I’ll be making a point of getting outside to feel the elements, hear the birds, and smile at someone.
  • Music – I want to listen to at least one song that moves me in some way every day.
  • Run an Errand – Getting things done energizes me.  I love getting to the end of the day knowing I completed some little thing.
  • 15 Minutes of Nothing – The first step to joy in Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.  This may well prove the most difficult action of the four.
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday!  How timely!
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday! How timely!