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Project Who?

  Well, my Happiness Project has not been going well these past few days. I have succumbed to being glum (could not resist the semi-rhyme). I have not been able to invoke my most important commandment - Does it affect me? I have been letting everything get to me and as a way of dealing (hardly), I have taken to my bed for disgustingly long bouts of sleep.

  When normal people are feeling blue, I feel that many of them may turn to hobbies and other pleasant diversions. Unfortunately, as many people may also confess, I feel that post-breakup I find myself possessing no semblance of “a life”. To put it simply, I devoted all my energy to a relationship and now that I am out of it, I have nothing to turn to. So, I tried to figure out What do I like again? I made a fascinating list, which points out (yet again) that I did not choose the right college major.

  Then, serendipitously, I found a quiz on The Happiness Project website. It is entitled “How Well Do You Know Yourself?” to which I answered emphatically Not very well, thank you! So, I took the quiz and here it is along with my answers. If you’d like to see the quiz in it’s original context click here.

1. What part of the newspaper do you read first?
     Probably the Entertainment section when I actually read the paper. I have no particular interest in Sports or News. If  the paper features a style section, that would most likely be my first stop.

2. What are three books you’ve read in the past year?
     The Happiness Project…um. Yeah, I can’t remember the last book I read that wasn’t for school. I actually can’t remember the last time that I read a book entirely that was assigned for school.

3. As a child, what did you do in your free time?
     I vaguely remember that as a child I used to draw in my room for hours. As a child I was good at drawing but unfortunately I still possess about the same aptitude for drawing as I did when I was 6. I also read a lot I think and dressed my brother up in my clothes.

4. What’s a goal that has been on your list for a few years?
     Figure out what I’m doing with my life! [I originally just typed “pass” as the answer to this question]

5. What do you actually do with your free time?
     I wallow and write random journal entries. I spend way more time with people (or trying to spend time with people) than my Master’s program healthily allows for. I also spend gross amounts of time on Twitter.

6. What types of activities energize you?
     Engergize. I’m not entirely sure what that even means anymore. I feel “energized” after taking a long shower and putting (probably too much) time into getting ready. When I spend a lot of time on my appearance I feel very excited and good.

7. What famous people intrigue you?
     I can’t get enough of Chelsea Handler. She’s hilarious and seems to always be surrounded by people. Also, I’m not going to lie and say I wouldn’t want to spend a day with the Kardashians.

  Unfortunately, all of these answers point to a Masters in English as, perhaps, not being the best degree choice for me. This isn’t earth shattering news though. How well do you know yourself? Perhaps it is time to test it. 

The Happiness Project

As a preface, my brother recently suggested that I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was hesitant to buy the book since I’m such a poor, sad graduate student. Frugally, I started perusing the website and blog that corresponded with the book. I intelligently surmised (oh the intelligence!) that the author had written herself a set of commandments. I haughtily thought to myself I can so that!!! So I did and here they are. I don’t know what I was excepting from the experience but the results are indescribable.

In less than an hour my outlook went from devastated to borderline optimistic. I had just been dumped by a guy that I still had to live with. I was half way through a graduate program that I had no desire to complete and especially bleak employment prospects when I finished. Life was not good. Life is still not good, per se. Nothing has changed except the one thing that I realize now that I can change: me. I cannot change my circumstances (other than leaving them, which is not always an option) but I can change my view on them.

The cheeriness and self-help book tone of those last few sentences are almost making me feel nauseated. It’s too much and it sounds like Oprah - but it’s true. Part of the time I’m faking it and part of the time I feel great. Still other times I feel as though there is nothing in life whatsoever to be happy about. For the most part, I feel as though my current commandments may not make me happy so much as they may help me not to be unhappy. I may have to add some more commandments to actually attain happiness but I feel that these are a good start.

Even if you do not want to tackle a full-blown happiness project of your own, some life commandments are a great way to start. Who do you want to be? What do you want your life to be? Start there. The rest happens like magic; trust me.

  1. I will not talk crap about anybody. If I feel like I want to speak negatively about someone, I will ask myself what is upsetting me and if it is reasonable. Does it affect me? If the answer is no, I will not speak negatively. If the answer is yes then I will formulate a plan to address it directly, not talk badly behind their backs.
  2. I will reach out and make friends with as many people as I can - but not in a needy way. Maybe everyone won’t be true, good friends that I can rely on heavily but I at least want to have as many general friends as possible. I want to never have to be alone but rather choose to be alone when I need to be. I will invite people to do things and I will start being more willing to do what other people want to do.
  3. I will appreciate the friends I already have for what they are and not what I want them to be. Even though none of my friends are perfect they are all positive in one way or another.
  4. I will view responsibilities as opportunities to excel. I may not want to write a thesis or study and do homework but these potentially unpleasant tasks are opportunities to show myself (and others) how well I can do something.
  5. I will smile more. Even if I am having a bad day and even if I feel awful - I will smile because it will make others smile and eventually will make me feel the happiness that goes along with a smile.
  6. I will make a list of things that make me happy and try to use this to figure out a career goal for myself. I will then set up a concrete plan detailing how I will achieve this goal.
  7. I will wash my face every night and wear makeup when leaving the house. Looking good is a large part of feeling good and I don’t want to let my physical appearance suffer because of sadness.
  8. I will remember to breathe. If this last episode of my life has taught me anything, it is that breathing can solve a multitude of problems.
  9. I will remember that I am the only one who can make me feel something. People do not make me angry or sad; they only provide stimuli, which I can then choose to react to with sadness or anger. 
  10. I will not react to disappointment with anger. Disappointment is only a result of expectations that I put onto a situation and my reaction is entirely in my control.
  11. I will fully acknowledge that the only person I can control is myself and that I truly do have full control over my own actions and thoughts.

Andrea just trying to figure out who 'Andrea' is. You get to watch.