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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Happiness Project

Did you know that most people consider themselves very happy or at least pretty happy? Did you know that on a scale of 1-5, most people would rate their level of happiness around 4? I know statistics can lie, but I happen to believe these.

That leads to today's mystical question. Can a person be happier with some kind of intention? Can it be done through behavior modification? How about through changing thought patterns? I absolutely believe it. I know where I am now. I know where I was twenty years ago; ten years ago; five and so on.

I didn't plan a happiness project, although given my natural inclination to learn everything about something before I do it, I would have. I just didn't think of it.

One of my character flaws is to blame myself for nearly everything. My boss is in a bad mood, so it must be my fault. My kid isn't happy today, so it must be my fault. A bird died in China, so it must be my fault. The next step in this pattern is to determine how it's my fault and to fix it. It's a miserable existence born out of some misguided ethic.

So I changed the pattern to something more truthful. When my boss is in a bad mood it has nothing to do with me. He's in a bad mood because he burnt his toast; got into traffic on the way in to work; had a fight with his wife; forgot his lunch; lost his house key; got yelled at by his boss. There are at least one hundred other reasons for his mood in which I'm not the central character.

Changing that auto-response was intentional and painful. And it took a lot of time, but I did it. Is it all the way gone? No. But I recognize when its creepy tendrils grab at me.

That was my biggest "happiness project" although I had, and continue to have others. I've been successful at most of them. I can create my own mood and reality if I want to.

If you don't have twenty years to work on being happier, then there's this book. I always have a book. My brother will tell you I always have a song. That's true, too.

The book is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She has a blog on it. Her newest book, entitled Happier at Home was just released last week. Both talk about ways to get happier in a more systematic way than I've gone about it. But they'll work, too.

Here's a book trailer on The Happiness Project. But don't buy the book unless you're going to do it because your project will be different from mine and hers because you're you.




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2 comments:

  1. I read this book a while ago for a WOW! post. I thought it was really good. I do think you can decide to be happy or unhappy. Look at that girl who had the flesh-eating virus and lost all her limbs--she was on GMA this morning and you could tell that she is just happy to be alive. She wants to learn to drive and get her master's degree. She definitely chose to be happy!

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  2. The girl overcoming her extreme challenge is amazing. Thanks for visiting the site and making a comment. I really appreciate it.

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