The idea for this post series, or really personal experiment, came the other day when my sister, Angie, was talking to me about Gretchen Rubin, as she's currently reading her book, Better than Before. I told her I've been wanting to read that but I still haven't gotten around to reading Rubin's other book, The Happiness Project, even though I've owned it for years. In case you haven't heard of The Happiness Project, it chronicles the author's year-long test-drive of everything from ancient philosophical wisdom to scientific studies to lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
'Why exactly haven't I read that until now?' I began to wonder. It is very, very unlike me to have an unread book at all, especially one of this nature. I love a good self-exploration read and when it comes in the form of a checklist, a challenge, a plan- well, that's pretty much the dream.
So I dusted off and cracked open my copy, quickly remembering why I've put it off for so long: Chapter 1- January. JANUARY! Rubin's own happiness quest starts at New Year's and focuses on a different aspect every month, wrapping itself up with a perfectly neat bow by the end of December. I never remember this fact until it's too late and thus have put it off for years. The appeal of doing a perfect month-by-month year of happiness is just too strong to settle for starting imperfectly in spring, right?
Wrong. I know this all seems silly, but the struggle on this one is very real for me. In fact, my first instinct was to set a reminder on my phone so as not to forget about it come January 2017, when my perfect year of happiness could finally begin. But that is ridiculous and I know it. My word of 2016 is "now" specifically because I have to fight this instinct in myself. It's supremely silly, not to mention a complete waste, to procrastinate in the name of perfectionism, especially when the outcome could be eye-opening and life-enriching.
So anyway, I decided I'm just going to dive in. Even if it is during the perfectly imperfect, very non-January-like month of March. In fact, Zach and I are both diving in, as he's agreed to go through the book with me. You see, with him being a small business owner and myself being an obsessive creative, we've got a major work-life balance problem going on here. He regularly works 60-hour work weeks and I often work through dinner and then stay up until the sun rises working on more projects. While I would say we are certainly "happy," our sense of normalcy, routine, and overall enjoyment of life could use some major work. I'm hoping this will help us to implement more structure, thus creating a little more freedom, a little more wiggle room in the schedule, or at the very least, a reminder to relax and appreciate the joy of the moment.
So here is how it's going to go down.
We are working on Chapter 1 all throughout March.
Yes, it's killing me to do January's chapter in March, but the focus is on energy and vitality and this is something I can definitely get behind. Tasks include going to sleep earlier, exercising better, organizing the home, tackling nagging tasks, and acting more energetic.
These are things that are kind of always lingering in the back of my mind, but can be difficult to implement into day-to-day life. We're excited to use some of Rubin's ideas and techniques and see how they work for our lives.
We will be recapping the chapters on the first Monday of each month.
We will talk about what was hard, what worked well, etc, as well as talking about the next month ahead. If you're interested in working through the book yourself, you can download a sample chapter here or purchase here. And if you are interested in taking part with us each month, we would love to have some happiness partners in crime! If this is something that sounds fun to you, please let me know in the comments so I can cheer you along! :)