Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happiness Project: January

Well, friends, I may have mentioned in a previous post that I am embarking upon my own Happiness Project this year after reading The Happiness Project and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. Today is Day 1!

Since this is the first month, some things may change, like the format that I use to keep track of stuff, or even a resolution. I'll try my best to keep all of my resolutions, but if I realize quickly that one of them is NOT contributing to my happiness--if it makes my life more difficult, or makes someone ELSE'S life more difficult, if it feels so unnatural that I just can't keep doing it--then I'm going to take it off my list.

That said, here are my resolutions for January; there are five of them.
1. Streamline and organize
2. Go to bed on time
3. Keep a health journal
4. Follow the one-minute rule*
5. 10-minute tidy every evening

First of all, I'll say that I'm obviously modeling my own happiness project after the book, which is one reason why my focus for January is the same as hers. The second reason is that it just makes sense. Before I start trying to get craftier, or bake more, or spend more active time with Bob, it seems reasonable to think that the best way to start is to get my life (and apartment) better organized, and eliminate the junk that is in the way.

"Sure, okay, but why do you need a WHOLE MONTH? How much junk do you HAVE?" some of you may be screaming at me in your heads. Hush, now, I'm coming to that.

I'm taking the entire month of January because a) organization is important, b) I want to do it right, and c) you have to do things every day for it to become a habit. And I want to make organization a habit, not just a two- or three-times-a-year thing. So I have a month to practice before adding more.

Now, to each resolution individually: The first three, I think, are self-explanatory. I want to get rid of unnecessary items that clutter my life, and get the things that are important organized in such a way that I can find them and fully utilize them. Going to bed on time will mean I get enough sleep, which will hopefully lead to fewer naps in the afternoon. (You'll notice I didn't make "Not napping" a resolution. We all have our standards.) Having enough sleep is VERY important to me! And keeping a health journal will help me better understand my own patterns of eating, sleeping, and exercising, and also the role that different foods, weather, and activities may have on how I feel, both physically and emotionally. (I have GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, frequent headaches and sinus pain, and earaches, in addition to to generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and some tendencies toward OCD.) As an adult I have come to accept that a pill won't cure everything and sometimes you have to suck it up and stop eating Wendy's spicy chicken nuggets unless you WANT to be miserable for the next 4 hours.

*As to my fourth resolution, "follow the one-minute rule," I took it directly from The Happiness Project. The one-minute rule means that if there's a chore or task that needs to be done and will take less than one minute, DO IT NOW. Let's say you just used the last of the milk. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don't just leave the empty jug on the counter! It will take just a few seconds to put the jug in your recycling bucket or garbage can. So go do it. Then it won't still be there staring at you next time you go in the kitchen. Because if you put it off once, it's so much easier to put it off again. DON'T. Same thing with putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, starting the dishwasher, putting your shoes in their place instead of leaving them in the middle of the floor. These tiny, seconds-long actions help tremendously in my feeling of cleanliness and organization.

The last resolution is similar--10-minute evening tidy-up. If I take just 10 minutes before I get ready for bed each night to pick up stray trash, hang up jackets, stack books, and scrub out that pan, the house will look so much nicer in the morning, and next time I do a deep-clean I won't have to start with those little nagging chores.

I'm almost done, I promise.

The thing I love best about this project is that there's a super-easy way to keep up with whether or not I'm following my own rules: A CHECKLIST. Every month will have the resolutions at the top, and each day I'll get a check for each resolution I kept that day. It enables me to chart my own progress and reflect on what I have and haven't been doing, and I can see more concretely what is or is not making my life more enjoyable. Here's the checklist I'm using (it's just a snip because I can upload images, apparently, but not documents and this is the only way I could figure it out):

And of course it's a full page, with numbers down to 31.

That's enough for now. I bought noodles in a new shape at Walmart today and I'm excited for dinner! YAY FOOD TIME! Look for more January updates soon!

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