As I posted on New Year’s Eve — I’m embarking on a Happiness Project. There’s a few other acquaintances, friends, and family members joining me. * I’m hoping our mutual goals will help keep me in check and I hope I provide them some inspiration and accountability as well. It’s well known that measurements and accountability help folks reach their goals. I know for me that writing them down helps as well.
But before I looked at what my goals were for 2013 — beyond making my life more happy and full of joy — I needed to reflect on what my personal commandments were and what my secrets of adulthood. Like in Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, these commandments and secrets help guide you as you both determine where you’re struggling in your life and need to improve and your own personal philosophies that will help you make the best path to success.
In no particular order are my personal commandments to help guide my life (Note, some of these are clearly mimicking Rubin’s commandments, but, hey, when it’s a good rule to apply to myself, it’s worthy of being in my own list):
- Be Casz. Because when I try to conform to others expectations of who I am or how I should act, I’m miserable. That’s not happy-making. When I am myself, I truly attract those who should be in my life. That’s happy making. That is good.
- Let it go. I hold on to the negative too much. Negative feelings, friendships, habits – I worry. I fret. I harbor grudges. I need to let it go. Also, when it comes to parenting, all I can do is be the best example possible. To love, to guide, to teach, and then let them go to be their own people. Releasing the negative, much like a Yule log burning ritual is happy making.
- Act the way I want to feel. If I want to have a pleasant day, I need to be pleasant. This also means that if I want to be pissy, I’ll act pissy – but I also need to accept that it’s me that’s allowing this to happen. Emotions are not bad. But they are temporary and attitude is everything. It doesn’t mean I’ll be insincere. But I might force myself to smile to get out of a rut sooner than later. Mindfulness is what it comes down to, and being mindful to find the joy – that’s happy making.
- Do what ought to be done. Much like Saint Francis’ saying about ‘Doing what is necessary first…’ I’m hoping to cure myself of inexhaustible lists that are impossible to accomplish in one day. I need to look at what absolutely must be done, what’s necessary (eating, exercise, sleeping more), then what is possible. And before I know it, my year will be filled with impossible goodness. Impossible goodness makes me happy.
- Identify the problem. This is going to be a tough one, because I live with a child that absolutely cannot identify the problem, but rather the moons that rotate around the planet problem. However, I often, again, get caught up in my emotional response to a problem and need to focus on solutions. In order to do that, I may need to verbally aloud identify the problem and move from there to solution. Solutions make me happy.
- Lighten up. Often times I have to be the heavy at home. People are rearranging stocking holders from reading Santa to Satan or other silly things and I get irritated when it’s not necessary. I don’t have to spoil the fun. It’s temporary. Everything is impermanent. Enjoy the moment. Lighten up. Being light is happy making.
- There is only love. When things seem insurmountable (like lack of clients meaning lack of income and my student loan is coming due or knowing Pnut needs braces desperately, or even buy the next sack of groceries….), I need to focus on what’s really important. It sounds cliché, but there is truly only love. Holding my darling’s hand and our standing side-by-side through it all. That’s what is important. My love for my child, however unlovable he may be at moments, that is what’s important. My love in the end is going to be the thing that makes things better – even in the face of inarguable grief. Focusing on love first, that will keep me calm. When I’m calm I can identify problems better, lighten up and let go. Maybe this one should be my first personal commandment?
- Help for one is help for all. As a mother, community volunteer, friend, sister….I feel overtaxed often. That I give and give and it never seems to end. I need to be mindful that the assistance I give any of my children, the community, a friend, my spouse, etc. is a drop of energy in the goodness pool. If I’m helping my son, I’m actually helping the whole family. This does not mean that I have to over tax the plate that is my responsibilities. In that regard I need to remember commandment No. 4 & 5. Saying No is help for the one of me, which helps all. Because if I can’t be truly helpful, it’s no help at all.
- Keep it to yourself. This is really about judgment. I feel judged so often by the world. My spirituality, politics, life style – it’s all at odds with the majority. The push to conform in our culture is strong. However, I need to examine through this year-long exercise, why I feel judged. Is it because I’m judging others? I need to keep myself in check and put that lens right back on myself. Also, I have a tendency to unload my negativity in negative ways and spread it all around. I need to not do that, but rather keep it to myself by intimately (within myself and to myself, likely through daily meditation) say hello to negative feelings, people, problems, and figure out what they are trying to teach me – and then, move on.
Also guiding My 2013 Happiness Project is my Secrets to Adulthood. These are things I need to remember because the universe has taught these lessons to me repeatedly and I don’t want to waste time, energy, or resources learning them again. Additionally, they might just make reaching a resolution less painful.
- Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom and strength.
- Every day discipline produces results.
- Failure just means you’ve kept trying.
- Perfection is the enemy of good.
- Your only responsibility to your children is to be the best possible example for them. Beyond that, it’s on them.
- Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.
- Create every day.
- Remember the 3 Rs and you’re covered (respect self, respect others, respect community).
- Let the Art happen; don’t stand in its way.
- Even idle time is productive.
- Free things still cost energy.
- Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose; sometimes you get rained out. But you must get suited up for them all. (Something my father taught me.)
- Don’t let the Bastards get you down. (Another one from Pops)
- Today is what you have, so use it. (ala Chuck Wendig)
- Life is about the journey, not the destination. (won my hubby’s heart with that one!)
I hope in addition to keeping tabs on my writing, my urban farming, and artistic endeavors, you’ll join me on this year-long mission to increase the happiness, joy and general satisfaction with my life. As I believe, the journey teaches even more than the destination. Having a friend along doubles the pleasure.
What’s one of your secrets to adulthood or personal commandments?
* If you’d like to join us, let me know and I’ll add you to the closed facebook group.