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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.