Be Happy.

When the idea of Joycreation was born in September of 2010 I was in the midst of some big decisions. At the time I was working as a Program Director for a non-profit agency, and although my boss and colleagues were lovely, I didn’t feel like I belonged. The job I was doing day in and day out wasn’t right for me – on so many levels. It goes without saying that I was absolutely miserable and needed an out. But I had no idea, where to start or what to do next. It took me another six months, before I actually left my job, but I knew I needed to find a way to create more joy in life, while I was still working there. I also was desperate to finally find a field I could feel passionate about. I just couldn’t seem to figure it out. That’s when the first version of Joycreation came to life. 

So, from the very beginning – ever since I launched Joycreation – this aspect of creating more joy, more happiness in life, has been essential to me. And yet, when I look at the posts I’ve written so far, I never really dove into this topic. Sure, I touched it here and there, but the blog itself, a happy place in general, has been far more about design, art and everything handmade (a definite passion of mine), than about the way to happiness.

Although I’m a much happier person now than I was two years ago, the topic is an ongoing one for me. I’ve bought many books on happiness and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is one of them. I started it about a year ago, but it quickly became another addition to the pile of books unread.

So, when Erin of Artsocial suggested to read the book together, and Rita of TOMORROWtoday announced her interest as well, there was no way I was not going to join those two wonderful ladies! I’ve had to postpone a couple of times (due to my summer break and illness), so I’m extra excited to be part of this growing link-up this week!

One of the things I like about Gretchen Rubin’s way to happiness, is her practical approach. I would describe myself as a fairly self-reflective person. I’m a proponent of therapy, I love psychology, and I find the reasons for human behaviors fascinating. So, over the last decade I’ve been analyzing my behaviors a lot, have thought about the whys of my unhappiness, but never truly practiced the hows to more happiness. On a very simplistic level, you could compare it to attempting to bake a cake without adding the main ingredients. It just doesn’t work.

If I don’t get enough sleep, don’t nourish my body, and do what I’ve always done, chances are, my happiness level will stay where it is (or decrease even more). On the other hand, If I add those “happiness ingredients”, my body and mind will likely respond to the lifestyle changes in a positive way. To live by the basic principles of happiness is the foundation of the “cake”. Everything else that follows after that is the icing. Do I think that’s all it takes to be a happier person? No way! Do I think it’s a necessary starting point? Absolutely. I’m sure most therapists and psychiatrists would concur.

But breaking habits is hard. Changing our patterns take time, persistence, repetition, self-discipline and lots of patience. That’s why I like Rubin’s approach to dividing her “recipe” to happiness into doable monthly chunks. It allows you to apply and practice the changes over time, rather than attempting to change everything at once (rarely works, right?).

So, since September is the new January (and my January really is mid-September through mid-October), I’m tackling this book in chronological order and am officially beginning my year of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. This first month is all about boosting energy, so here are some of the principles I want to put into practice over the next weeks:

1. Get enough sleep (meaning: be in bed by 9 p.m. on week nights, lights out by 9:30). Gretchen Rubin has some great tips on how to do that. You can read more about it in her first chapter.

2. Exercise: Dave signed us up for Snap Fitness a while ago, but we have barely used our membership so far. As soon as I’m well again, I want to get into the habit of exercising regularly. I also want to add yoga and meditation to the mix.

3. Getting organized: How good does it feel to begin the day with a clean house, coffee brewing (because you’ve remembered to set the timer the night before)? Are you going to be more productive? I’ll definitely be! As Rubin points out, physical stuff can drain our energy big time. We began the decluttering process already this summer, but it will be an ongoing project for us for a while. This weekend I want to get my fall/winter clothes from the basement and organize my closet.

4. Think Happy! The stories we tell ourselves, the thoughts that we have, influence how we feel. In a simplistic way you could put it like this: Happy thoughts -> happy feelings, boost energy and self-esteem. Negative/self-destructive thoughts -> sad feelings, tremendous loss of energy & self-esteem.  I want to add more positive stories to my repertoire!

Below are some resources and books on the topic, that I’ve found helpful:

Online resources:

happiness-project.com

TED-Talk: Dan Gilbert – The surprising science of happiness 

Books:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (duh!)

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (just published)

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, P.h.D.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (a must-read!)

Happiness by Richard Layard

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley

If you’ve just stumbled upon this link-up and would like to join Erin of Artsocial, Rita of TOMORROWtoday and me, please do! You can easily link up your post by entering your information below. We’d love to have you! Thanks for stopping by and be happy! xoxo

photo sources: 1, 2


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