Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Choosing Happiness

A few months ago I read a book called The Happiness Project.  It was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone, happy and unhappy alike.  It wasn't a typical self-help book where the author was completely unhappy and on a journey to find inner peace.  She was just an average woman who was happy but knew she could be even happier.  

Part of me wishes I had taken notes so I could give it a proper review but I was reading it for personal enjoyment and didn't want to turn it into "work" of any kind.  Here I am a few months later, and reflecting on what I took away from reading the book.  I have forgotten a lot of the details but there are a few things that have stuck with me.  First and foremost, was the concept that we choose happiness.  It is not something that is eventually achieved, it is a way of living in each moment.  I already knew this concept and also already subscribe to the "happiness is not a destination but a way of life" and "happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have" philosophies.  Even so, it is always nice to have your beliefs reiterated for you.  While I feel like I personally have enough positivity, optimism and happiness in my life to not devote a year to finding more, there were some concepts that I added to my happiness toolbox.

One was to sing in the mornings.  When we wake up (and when I remember) I sing a good morning song to Ayden.  It makes him smile and the author was right...  It is hard to be cranky and tired when you are singing an upbeat, happy tune.  It really does set the mood for the day.  Another was to match your child's enthusiasm for whatever activity you are doing together.  If you are reading a book for the 20th time, read it with the same excitement your child had when he brought it to you or when he said, "Let's try again!" like Ayden does.  

I also liked her "no dumping" philosophy.  When I'm having a rotten morning my first instinct is to call David and vent to him about it.  I want to do this because he is my friend and he can usually relate better than anyone else if my woes are Ayden related but the reality is that my calling and telling David about it while he is at work won't change the fact that any of it happened and will most likely add stress to his already stressful work day.  I am still working on this one but what can I say, I am a work in progress...

The author talked about being extrinsically motivated and how she constantly expected "gold stars" for effort.  She made the decision to stop doing things to impress anyone else and went into any household task that she did with the mentality that she was doing it for herself and that there was a good chance no one else would even notice.  Though David has actually always been really great at affirming my efforts (even when they are things that need to be done or the little things that I do daily) it is freeing to not expect feedback for the things you do.  That also makes the "gold stars" that much more rewarding when you do get them.

I know there was more that I subconsciously tucked away while reading the book but these were the main things that I remembered when thinking back to reading the book.  If you are finding yourself to be not necessarily unhappy overall but more annoyed by little things than you should be or just finding yourself going through the motions day after day, I would highly recommend this book.  It can put things back into a positive perspective and give you a few tools for making the little changes that will make a big difference.  

Ayden resting on my 25 week baby bump.
He was in a SNUGGLY mood today and I loved every moment!

It was rainy today so we had David home with us all evening.  It's a bummer to loose time on the house but it is also nice to have the family time!

These moments are pretty special too...
Have you read The Happiness Project?  What did you take away from it?


Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Homemade Glass Cleaner"
And two years ago today: "Exer-saucing"

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  1. Thanks for the book recommendation. It sounds like just what I need at the moment!

    I can't believe you're already 25 weeks along! You look great :)

  2. I read this book a few years ago and loved it. Thanks for reminding me about it because I think I want to revisit it again now that I'm at a different stage in my life, married and with a little one. I've always been a firm believer in choosing happiness. :)

  3. I have the book and have started to read it, but because of the way it's set up with the month sections, I thought it might be better to read it throughout the year, following along with the chapters or parts. Is this the case or did you still find value in reading it straight through?

  4. I loved the happiness project!!

  5. I really enjoyed the book. I am now reading Gretchen Rubin's follow up book "Happier at Home." I recommend it as well. Thank you for your blog posts. I have a daughter who is 3 years old, and, like you, I am enjoying every minute of being a mother. Spending time with my daughter and my husband brings the most happiness to my life. Best wishes to you and your growing family.