Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Own "Happiness Project"

Among other things my new triathlon coach has given me these first few months of working together, he recommended this book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In it, Ms. Rubin reflects on how she came to a stark realization one day that she was careening through life, getting through each day, but that even though she had much to be grateful for and joyful about, a feeling of happiness was distinctly missing.  She then set out on a year of a personal quest to investigate and remedy this situation for herself.  Her approach was to isolate areas of her daily life which impacted her level of happiness (personal relationships, health, tidy home/environment, among others) and set some very modest daily goals which corresponded to each month's "theme" and then built on them (she carried January's goals into February, February's into March, etc., until December, where she spent a month trying to perfect the objectives of the past 11 months).  All the while she remained cognizant of how each of these elements factored into her overall level of feeling happy.

This book, and Gretchen Rubin's reflections really resonated with me, and very much apealed to my obsession with goal setting.  Her approach was different from my usual start-of-the-year approach in a couple of ways.  She focused on mastering one specific area per month, in contrast to my usual scatter-shot, often overwhelming goals in too many areas all at once.  In addition, her goals were small, simple and daily as opposed to my more-usual monthly goals, where the month gets away from me and I come to the end empty handed and defeated.

SO...I headed into January with what I know for absolute sure is the most basic foundation of happiness for me:  Health.
 Just as Ms. Rubin did, I made up a daily checklist.  At the end of each day I evaluated how I did in the following:
1.  In bed by 9:15, lights out by 10:00.
2.  Nutrition:  sticking to my calorie plan/no sugar/no processed foods.
3.  Take vitamins.
4. Brush teeth 2 times a day (and floss).
5.  Use sunscreen.
6.  Finding some creative time, even 15 minutes.
7.  Training as per new coach.
8.  Bike commute Noah to school whenever weather permits.
9.  1 protein shake/day.
10. 2 dog walks/day.
I also gave myself "extra credit" for finding ways to work these in to Sporty Spice's daily routines.

 Our crowning moment may have been one ride to school in January in 27 degree weather.

In February, I continued this daily checklist of habits and then added HOME ORGANIZATION (all 6,500 square feet of it!).  I first made a master-list of every room/area of the house and garage that could use a serious de-cluttering and crap-tossing and then set a goal of averaging an hour a day working on it.  Time wise, I logged about 16 out of the 29 hours, but made quite a bit of progress.
 This is my giant "goodwill pile" in the garage!  But, in keeping with the big-picture, goal of increasing happiness, I'm not going to beat myself up over not meeting the total hour-goal, but will continue into March, which will focus on GARDEN and YARD.  One of the projects left is to finally work in our home library!  We are truly still "digging out" from our move 3 years ago.  But in January we finally bought bookcases!  I can't believe we have a whole room for books, a room I've pretty much closed the doors on and forgotten existed until now.
 The main motivation behind the focus on Home Organization and Garden and Yard lies in my previous experience of heading into Ironman training with a huge cluttered house and two acres of weeds, knowing how much that stresses me out.  And progress I can make now will pay off in happiness between now and July 22.

Training and Happiness were both challenged in February, I'm here to say!  The first speedbump came in the form of THIS GUY,
 giving me one of the worst cases of poison oak I've ever seen!  It lasted well over 2 weeks, during which time I also pulled a calf muscle which still has me only running in the pool.  And then I had to have a crown put on a tooth, and then had to have it put back on after it fell off.  I'm hoping all these things are on the mend, and March will see more consistent problem-free training.
One thing that will make training much happier is THIS!!  The Mister surprised me with this new bike (still being built).  Electric shifting!   Can't wait to take it for a spin!

1 comment:

  1. Wahoo!!! Happiness project! Working on my goals for March.

    Can I come over and go through your Goodwill pile? I am not above scavenging these days!

    We need to get together soon!