Continued from Learning to be Happy: Part 1
Yesterday, I finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Seriously, this is a life-changing book and everyone should read it. In the end of the book, Gretchen invites the reader to create their own happiness project. Visit her happiness project website and toolbox.
I love projects, and I want to learn to be happier, so of course, I skipped out of the library and got to work in my notebook.
The first step of my happiness project was to set my “Happiness Commandments” as Gretchen calls them. These are like little mantras, meant to remind you of the things you want to change. I borrowed a few of hers, but eventually I came up with ten little reminders to help keep me on track.
1-God First- My religion is important to me, so I want to recognize God’s hand in my own life. As, I need to get better about reading my scriptures. And not zoning out in church.
2-Think about the long run- Will this matter in a month? A year? A decade? Will I be glad I didn’t do this? Hopefully, this will help with exercise and eating choices, conflicts with other people, and maybe even bigger decisions.
3- Act the way I want to feel- (I borrowed this one from Gretchen) Whoever said “Fake it until you make it” knew what they were talking about. Smile. Dress well. Exercise anyway. Do my hair.
4-Be here now- 90% of the time, my mind is either off in the future (i.e., worrying) or lingering on the past. Notice the clouds more. Have a tea party with my 3-year-old cousin. See the colors in the flower beds. Don’t want to be anywhere else.
5- Say yes- Some people have a hard time saying no. Not me, I’m more of the party-pooper persuasion. Instead, I’ll go to that party. Try something new. Help with that service project.
6-Do it now- Again, I’m a terrible procrastinator, even with things I like to do because I “save them for later”. Instead: Write down that transaction. Wipe up that drip. Call her. Pay that bill. Start that story.
7- Don’t be a loner- Studies show that social interaction is crucial to happiness, even in introverts like yours truly. So instead of hiding in the corner with my nose in a book, I’ll talk to people. Call a friend to go to lunch. Email someone I haven’t talked to in awhile. Accept when someone invites me to a movie I didn’t really want to see.
8- There is only love- Instead of doing things begrudgingly, out of obligation or because I’m paid to, I’ll do it because I care. Go above and beyond my nanny duties and be a big sister. Do something special for Sam.
9- Consistency is everything- A little every day adds up to a lot.
10- Connect with something real– Limit web-surfing. Talk to someone face-to-face. Play with the dogs more. Exercise outside. Smell flowers. Play Barbies with Sophie.
What are your happiness commandments?
The bucket list. 101 things to do before I die. The Barefoot List. I’ve heard it called different things, but it’s essentially the same and everyone has one whether they’ve written it down or not. They give us something to strive for and look forward to.
I call it my Handprint List, because it’s who I am, who I hope to become, and the mark I want to leave on the world, and it inspired this blog. I doubt I’ll actually accomplish all these things, but it’s a list of things I can do. It reminds me to aim high and keep an open mind. I add and remove things all the time, and I think everyone should have one of these. So here’s mine, and I hope it will inspire you to create your own. (The bold items are the ones I’ve done)
McKella’s Handprint List
- Work, teach, or volunteer in a foreign country
- 5. China
- Do a family history tour through England, Ireland, and Denmark
- The Vatican
16. Eastern Europe (Romania, Ukraine, Etc.)
17. Visit the Galapagos Islands to see wildlife up close.
19. Hike to Macchu Picchu
20. Visit Mayan ruins
22. Road trip across America (On a bike if I want to get really brave)
23. New England during the fall
24. Visit Roden Crater
25. Visit the Sacred Grove
26. New York
27. Ferry on the Mississippi River
29. Washinton DC, to learn about our county’s history.
30. Visit Native American pueblos
31. Visit the Muppet stuff in the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
- Speak Spanish fluently.
- Learn to belly dance
- Learn to surf
- Improve my piano playing
- Learn to play chess
- Improve my singing
- Sewing (enough to actually alter and design my own clothes)
12. Ice skating
14. Study abroad
15. Learn to survive in the wilderness and test my skills
16. Learn a martial art
17. Learn to place Linus and Lucy in full
19. Bread making
20. Learn to use a pottery wheel
21. Make my own ravioli
23. Study psychology
24. Learn to not throw like a girl
25. Skip rocks
26. Publish novels…I don’t know how many.
27. Publish at least one non-fiction book
28. Become financially independent and debt-free while doing something I love
29. Write and publish a children’s book
30. Create a whole body of art work and have a gallery show, even a private one.
31. Sell a piece of art
32. Change a tire all by myself
33. Be vegan for a year
34. Try African dance
35. High-raw vegan for a month
36. Name a star
37. See the Spiral Jetty
38. See Halley’s Comet
39. Shower in a waterfall or in the rain
40. Spend the night on a beach
41. Scuba dive in a coral reef
42. See the northern lights
43. Touch a whale
44. Watch a caterpillar emerge from it’s chrysalis
45. Do 50 push-ups in a row
46. Go an entire day without speaking
47. Pet a tiger
49. Learn to live simply
50. Skinny dip
51. Make a two-headed snowman, Calvin and Hobbes style
52. Swim with dolphins
53. Volunteer in an animal shelter
54. Volunteer to help abused women and children
55. Reduce my carbon footprint
56. Throw a surprise party for someone
57. Create a new holiday just for my family
58. Plant a tree
59. Dance in a foreign country
60. Ride a camel
61. Get a golden retriever
62. Try bikram yoga
63. Reach my natural ideal weight through intuitive eating and enjoyable movement.
64. Eat at a raw vegan restaurant, just to try.
65. See Tears for Fears live.
66. Run a half-marathon
67. Run a race for charity
68. Master the scorpion pose
69. Ride a horse sidesaddle
70. Try showjumping.
71. Do a headstand
72. Go rock climbing
73. Ride in a hot air balloon
74. Live without a car for a year
75. Win first place in something
76. Live by the ocean
77. Go sailing
78. Celebrate a non-materialist Christmas
79. See a whale in the wild
80. Grow my own food
81. Do the splits
82. Sing in a rock band
83. Live a full-blown yogini lifestyle for six months. Asanas, cleansing practices, etc.
84. Try fencing
85. Get a pet pig
86. Watch a meteor shower
87. Own a home
88. Trek through a jungle
89. Write, play and sing a song
90. Get married in the Temple
91. Become a mother
92. Homeschool my kids through elementary
93. At least try natural childbirth…this is a big maybe, I don’t know, I don’t know.
94. Research my geneology
95. Do temple work for my family members
96. Conquer my depression and anxiety
97. Learn to truly manage stress
98. Conquer fear (driving, being away from my family, offending people, etc.)
99. Learn to be happy no matter what my circumstances
100. Age gracefully. None of this wrinkle fighting or hair-dyeing stuff.
101. Finally, make an amazing scrapbook of all this
I plan on making a separate tab to post photos of these things as I accomplish them, a sort of visual “checklist.”
If you have a blog, consider yourself tagged! Post your own handprint list and send me a link. I’d love to see it! If you don’t have a blog, squeeze whatever you can into the comments.
A school counselor recommended the Intuitive Eating book to me in October 2008 after I’d appeared in her office, yet again struggling with restrictive eating and self-hatred that tainted everything I did.
So I bought the book and read it. I read it again like I was reading the final Harry Potter book, and my mind opened to the novel idea that I could actually rely on my body to tell me what it needs. I was intrigued, but at first I treated it like every other diet book, with the same obsessive hope “This is the one. This one will set me free.” So I threw myself a little donut and cheesecake party, followed by a Reese’s and Lucky Charms party that lasted a few months and I got frustrated that things weren’t happening just as the book said they would. Wasn’t my initial experimentation with forbidden food supposed to taper off, then shrink to a minimum while I intuitively chose to eat salad and oatmeal? After about a year and a half, I realized Intuitive eating is not a linear process. I know the book mentioned that somewhere, but my brain just said “yeah yeah, whatever, now get to the part where I don’t diet anymore and I still lose weight.”
I’ve “started over” a bunch of times, because took me awhile to let go of the dieting mindset and make peace with food, and I still struggle, but finally I learned that IE is more to me than learning how to eat again. It created a spiderweb affect in my mind, connecting to a hundred other things I needed to deal with that I had no idea were there, such as my issues with fear and anxiety, my deep-seated self-esteem issues, my resistance to change and my inability to let go.
IE was the first domino that set me on my journey of putting myself back together and building myself up, thinking for myself and learning who I really am. It was the first step in learning to love myself and my body the way I am. I haven’t gotten any smaller since starting IE, and I never weigh myself, but weight doesn’t matter that much to me anymore. IE was the beginning of my new life, because I learned that I can trust myself and that change is in my own hands.
Have you ever had a turning point like this in your life? I’d love to hear about it.