Let me tell you, it’s a whole lot easier to feel happy during a month when Murphy’s Law is not ruling the day.
Nevertheless, I continued to work on my Happiness Project last month and found more success than failure – no matter how hard the fates conspired against me in the guises of constant illness for all three boys in my house; unforeseen household expenses; interpersonal drama (I’ve been an innocent bystander, but still…); and my recent gestational diabetes diagnosis.* I’ll also say that my Type A nature found the simple act of keeping a list of resolutions centering and cathartic, especially on those really-not-so-great days. And maybe a sense of calm isn’t the same as happiness, but it works for me.
Last month, in addition to my original eight happiness resolutions (based, of course, on Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project), I tried to incorporate eight new resolutions around the theme, “Cultivate your mind”:
- Make time to read.
- Make time to study writing.
- Practice writing.
- Take notes.
- Think big…
- …but appreciate this stop on the journey.
- Avoid time wasters.
- Only watch good TV.
The two resolutions that I was most successful in upholding were #1 – making time to read – and #8 – only watching good TV. With the exception of a whirlwind trip to attend a wedding in Florida during which Tiny Baby needed every minute of my attention, I spent a good chunk of time reading everyday. Reading nourishes my soul like nothing else. When I’m able to cap each day with quiet time with a book, I feel like I’ve at least done one thing right in organizing my time. And that’s no mean feat these days.
Cutting out quite a bit of television was surprisingly easy to do and helped free up even more time for reading. At the beginning of the month, I went through my beloved DVR and deleted any show I didn’t genuinely look forward to watching. I’m now left with a handful of programs that I really enjoy (latest obsession = The Good Wife). I don’t imagine that I’ll ever cut out TV altogether, but it feels good to be approaching what I watch more mindfully.
I’m sorry to report that the areas where I felt short of my goals most often were in studying and practicing writing. More often than not, I didn’t motivate myself to sit down and write and/or read about the craft of writing. I did read and appreciate Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, but felt overwhelmed by the demands of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
The thing is: I know that I want writing to be a more regular part of my life, but I’m not making room for it. I have to think more about what that means.
As for this month, in addition to keeping up with my first 16 resolutions, I’m pushing on with my next set of resolutions, all of which fall under the heading, “Get your house in order.” And so far, so good. (I’m always better at small, specific tasks than at more lofty ones.)
- Get your financial house in order.
- Empty your inbox. (Have at least one moment each day where there is nothing that needs attention in my email inbox. Hat tip to Leo Babauta at Zen Habits for some helpful advice on how to achieve this.)
- Practice the evening tidy-up. (Right before the boys’ bedtime, spend a few minutes together cleaning up the “hot spots” (a la Fly Lady) in the living room, playroom, and kitchen.)
- Use up what we have.
- Get rid of things you don’t want.
- Don’t buy things you don’t need. (Especially tricky this time of year, no?)
- Hang things on the walls. (We’ve lived in this house for 3 1/2 years and our walls are still bare.)
- Take time for projects.
Wish me luck, comrades. And please let me know any tips you might have for meeting your goals even when life isn’t exactly going according to plan.
* Thanks for the wonderful combination of commiseration and pep talk that you gave me on my last post. I met with a dietitian after writing the post and learned that limiting carbohydrates in general – and not just sweets – will be the key for me in keeping my blood sugar in check. I’ll be checking my blood glucose four times a day and have been batting 1000 so far – even after allowing myself a very modest, dietitian-approved amount of dessert on Thanksgiving.