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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