Tag Archives: Happiness Project

Mindful Monday: How to Connect

Almost every job in life requires humans to interact with other humans. Certainly, once I learned to really connect with people, I excelled at my work. The first step is always to actually care about the people you’re working with or for. Continue reading

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Thursday Book Review: The Happiness Project

It’s time for me to give this book the space it deserves. I have written about it in two posts already (April Goals and Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project) so my regular readers know how much I love it, but let me give you some details.

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The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, is for every person of every type of life. If you think you can get more happiness out of your everyday routine, or if you’re just looking for a bit of motivation, read it!

Basically it chronicles a lawyer turned author’s year-long quest to make a happier life for herself. What I love about it is that she decided she already loved the pieces of her life: her kids, her hubby, her location, etc, but she wasn’t as thankful for them and she knew she should be. How many of us are guilty of that? It’s probably why you read this blog (and any other blog) in the first place. You are trying to improve your life without seriously changing it.

And we have all tried. Goodness have we tried. Personally, I set goals pretty frequently but rarely do they make an impact on my life. That’s because they aren’t tangible resolutions. That’s a key phrase: tangible resolution. It has to be a resolution not a goal because goals only exist until you reach them, resolutions are forever. And you have to lay out tangible steps to make these resolutions a reality. Otherwise they will never stick.

Commandments^ Here’s my list of rules for my Happiness Project.

And here’s and example of my resolution: I want to lower my overall stress and anxiety level throughout the day.

My tangible steps to reach that goal: I will build in a walk or breathing meditation, some quiet time, in the middle of everyday so that I have a few spare minutes to reset my stress-meter. And it’s working!

Basically, this book is an inspiration. Rubin spent an entire year figuring out how to make her happiness a reality. She researched and then she experimented. She laid out a plan and then went for it. The sheer determination and will power it took to keep those resolutions was massive, I’m sure.

I have recommended it to several patients and now I’m recommending it to you. Any self-analytical and driven person should read this book. Check it out from the library, buy it here, or just follow Rubin’s blog! And no, I’m not getting paid for this, there are just things in life that deserve attention.

And if you read my blog with any regularity, you’ll see me implementing these resolutions myself. Mine need some work but I’m on the right path! I’ll keep you all updated. In the meantime, have a stellar Thursday 🙂

Love and a big smile. – Ash

 

Mindful Monday: April Goals

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I still haven’t finished the book. It sits on my dining table, my bedside table, and the couch and every once in a while, I pick it up and read a chapter or two. But it’s not because it’s a slow read, it’s because I’m savoring it. There are very few books that make me feel the way this one does. It calms me but motivates me. It reminds me that my life is about making me happy and nothing else. I know it sounds selfish but a lot of making myself happy means helping other people be happy too. 🙂 I’m talking about the Happiness Project. It’s amazing. Read more about it in my Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project post.

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So, as promised, I will continue my efforts by revising and adding to my March Goals.

First, My Commandments. I read a list of these every morning. It reminds me what to focus on when I start to lose my footing.

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be. (< I realized that I don’t actually have a lot of trouble with this one)
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and make that moment happier.
  • Be happy when I succeed.

Second, a review of March Goals.

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY. (This was amazingly effective. It slowed me down after rushing around all morning like a headless chicken. It helped me be more productive and relaxed during the work day.)
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier. 
    (I actually didn’t have too many unhappy moments in 2 weeks but I anticipate that they will happen. So I’m adding it to the commandments.)
  • Choose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran. (Did this!)
  • Read this list every day. (Great reminder and totally necessary for this project)
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed. (Something I DEFINITELY need to work on. This is added to the Commandments.)

And finally! My April Goals:

  • Continue the daily, 10-minute walks.
  • Create a folder for design inspiration. I read lots of design magazines and websites. Visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Chicago this weekend made me realize how much pent-up design energy I have. I want to have a folder on my computer for digital archives and a physical folder for magazine and newspaper articles. I’m hoping this will help me start sketching again too.
  • Learn to cook with the Vitamix: juice, smoothies, soup, and ice cream. I got my tax return so I’m going to buy it today. YAY!!
  • Finish the two health books I’ve been page through for the last 2 months.
  • Eat at least one raw meal per day.
  • Have at least one entirely vegetarian day per week.
  • Read this list every day.

I’ll keep you updated with part of this that are working and parts that aren’t. Did anyone else read this book and love it?

Ashley Life Update:
Mike and I spent this weekend in Oak Park, a suburb just outside Chicago. We were celebrating our 1-year anniversary and seeing a few sites that we hadn’t got to yet. We don’t know where we’ll be moving in June so we want to see as much of Chicago as possible. We stayed at an eccentric yet absolutely lovely Bed and Breakfast. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about opening my own Healthy B&B. To the extent that I’ve designed most of the rooms in my head and know the general rules that I’d like to operate under (ie. huge, comfy beds and soft towels, simple healthy meals, and a gym for sure). Now I just have to figure out where the money will come from. Hah.

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Mike took the NRA intro to guns class I got him for Christmas well I slept off the lingering and oh-so-annoying flu. Then he met me at FLW’s Robie House in Hyde Park. That night was spent out on the town. We don’t like to party much but when we have a free night and a city full of entertainment, we take advantage. Mike treated me to a very chic, very delicious dinner at an underground jazz/prohibition bar and then we went dancing uptown.

Sunday (Easter!) was spent touring the FLW house and studio around the corner from our B&B and visited Trader Joes (man I miss that place!) before the 3 hour drive back to Peoria. We sort of just ignored easter. Much to my chagrin, without any kids or parents around, there wasn’t any good excuse for an Easter egg hunt.

I hope you all had relaxing and family filled holidays! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Friendly Friday: How Much Is Too Much?

It’s an odd question to ponder. Especially when it comes to something that makes someone feel so good. Do people get spoiled? Do they start to take it for granted? Can you ever show someone too much love?

One of the goals of my Happiness Project is to set up a day each week to talk to each of my siblings. It’s a joint effort and we’ve all succeeded. Makenna is on Tuesday, Cam is on Wednesday, and Nikki is on Thursday. It’s wonderful to hear about their lives more frequently and I’m really excited for it to become a regular thing.

I am the oldest of four. I’ve been a third parent to my siblings from the time I could reach the kitchen counter. There must have been some natural motherly tendencies there already but ay caramba, being an oldest sister really brought it out of me. Our childhood groomed me to nurture and care for people and generally just give them a lot of love.

But is there ever too much love? I tell my friends and family, multiple times in a conversation, that I love them and miss them. Because I do! I never want the special people in my life to question it. Do you think they ever just stop listening? Shrug off or tune out the doting words I throw their way. Not because they don’t appreciate it but because I say it (and try to show it) as often as possible?

I think that people act the way they want to be treated. Maybe I feel the need to express my love because it’s awesome when I get it back. I don’t know. What I do know is that it feels great to have so many people who are worthy of my energy. What a lucky lady I am 🙂

 

The Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project …

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March Goals:

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY.
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier.
  • Chose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran.
  • Read this list every day.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed.

These seem like some pretty specific goals right? How did I arrive at them? Well …

HappinessProject

There’s a really awesome book a friend sent me. It’s called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Instead of being all preachy and general, she chronicles the details of finding her way to happiness. She lays out a list of what she wants to improve and then divides that list into manageable parts. It’s basically a book about baby steps.

I’m finding it very inspirational so I’ve decided to do the same. Every month I’ll lay out my goals for you all to see. I’m not doing this because I’m particularly unhappy. I just have so much awesomeness in my life and I think I could appreciate it better. If I’m not 100% content when everything is hunky-dory, what will happen when life isn’t so nice? I want my happiness to be strong enough to withstand even the hardest challenges.

The questions I’m asking myself:

  • What makes me feel good?
  • What makes me feel bad?
  • Is there any way in which I don’t feel right about my life?
  • Do I live in a way that encourages growth?

My answers to solve these questions – 2013 Goals:

  • Stop being so concerned with the future (haha, does the list of goals act against that?).
  • Learn to switch off work and relax.
  • Be outdoors more.
  • Wake up more energized.
  • Pay off my credit card bills.
  • Invest in quality cooking and cleaning tools – then use them to their full potential.
  • Communicate more regularly with friends and family.
  • Improve our nutrition (eat more raw, nutrient-dense food and cut out all dinnertime grains and sugars).
  • Remove toxins from our food, personal hygiene, cleaning products, etc.
  • Learn to enjoy riding my bike again.
  • Stop putting so much pressure on myself.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed at these goals.

Things I don’t want to change:

  • My commitment to exercise.
  • My love of healthy cooking.
  • The strength of Mike and My relationship.
  • The strength of my ties to my family.
  • My plans for travel.
  • My thankful heart.
  • My cleanliness and organization.

Happy

My Commandments:

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be.
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything.

To that end, I will let you know, each month what my focus goals are for that month. I’ll pick as many or as few as I think I can handle. Some of them may be focused on for multiple months, some may be much easier than that. Since March is 1/3 of the way in, this month’s list is relatively short. But there’s no better time to start than today!

Does anyone want to join me in this? It can be as big or small of a project as you like. Let me know!

Love and a big smile. – Ash