I have been doing My Happiness Project 2013 for better than three weeks now. Three weeks of focusing on anything – quit smoking, eating healthier, or not biting your nails – choose your vice that you’re trying to change and you should see a difference. Self-help experts all agree that the magical time frame when something changes into a better habit is 21 days. Three weeks.
How am I doing? Not too horrible. Not too great. I think I have the “Sleep Better” focus nailed. Just refocusing on when I have to get up and looking back to when that means I need to go to bed was a simple but effective way to develop new habits. Now if I could just do something about the things that prevent me from falling asleep faster or staying asleep. Many of those things are beyond my control. But I problem solve where I can – sometimes sleeping better means moving to the couch, or sneaking in a half hour nap. All I can do is make sure that I’m allotting time for sleep and making it a priority in my life, which I have successfully done these past 23 days. My X’s on my resolution chart are high in that category. Regardless, it has become a very healthy priority in my life. For that, I’m very happy.
Operation Organization is doing fairly well, too. There were some days where something I’d organized became unorganized. I live with four other people. None of whom are very organized. All I can do is be a good example for them and hope they take the clue. But each time I organize a drawer, a closet, a shelf in the garage (oh holy mother of all that is clutter our garage is obnoxious and makes me anxious every time I go out into it), I have a feeling of success, which breeds a moment of joy. Moment of joy is a good thing.
Invest in Art is doing fairly well, too. That’s an easy focus for me. In fact, today I get to take some of my work into a local gift shop for sale. They asked me! Not too shabby, eh? Now if I could just finally get the glass-cutting stuff done right, and really support my family whether its writing or Thrasher Studios work. Regardless, the extra half an hour I’m spending focusing every day on my art has allowed me to learn new things and realize that such an investment brings me returns. Who can’t smile at that?
Exercise Better is where it’s been really tough. I have the most zeroes on my resolution chart there. However, I have identified problems and hurdles – e.g., variety, weather, back trouble, low motivation –to that and am devising solutions. Sometimes solutions to life’s troubles are slower to present than the problems. Some problems I can’t change, but adapt to, like the weather. That requires special clothing, which I have none of right now. I don’t own a proper winter coat. I don’t own a proper rain coat or muck boots. And walking outdoors is my number one go-to exercise routine. It’s one I’ll easily stick to because my dog needs exercise and it’s my responsibility to make sure that happens. I do want variety and I’ve investigated new types of exercise (Tai Chi, alternative yoga, etc.) via DVDs. However, I need a DVD player in our bedroom so that I can actually exercise to those instructional discs with privacy, comfort and regularity. When the weather breaks I’ll be able to get on my bicycle again, too, which will also bring variety. My degenerative spinal disease is a double-edged sword. I have to exercise to make sure that it doesn’t get worse more quickly; but, exercising also makes my back trouble act up. Performing self care like taking my anti-inflammatory meds, doing my massage chair, and stretching are all things I worked on in 2012 to regularly perform. However, amp’ing up my exercise routine also means that the pain amps up and even preventive and maintenance routines hold little sway in mitigating for when my back wants to completely spasm and be inflamed to the point where I find it hard to breathe or be in one position too long. Four days of just trying to move normal really put a kink in my focus. But, it’s constantly on my radar for each and every day. That exercising is just like breathing or drinking my coffee. It’s a part of my day, much like writing. My day is off when I can’t even do something simple like spend 15 minutes in yoga poses. However, if I compare this month to say, November? I’m kicking ass in the exercise better. It’s all about progress, not perfection. That’s good.
Not on my resolution chart, but rather as a way my family could at least cursorily join in on the project, we created a “Good Things Jar.” This is a big mason jar that when good things happen, we put a small note in. On Dec. 31, 2013 we’ll read them aloud to each other to relive those small moments of joy. In just 23 days, our jar has been filling up. I might have to find a bigger one by mid-year.
Given that the last two weeks have been fraught with personal challenges both as an individual and as a parent, any progress is good progress, whether it’s a new positive habit or not. I credit much to the loosely-knit group of neighbors, acquaintances and friends who decided to do this project along side. I hope they are finding more moments of joy, too, as clearly I have.
It is clear, doing this three-week check-in that regardless of daily ebbs and flows of success, new habits are developing. I think the three-week logic is fairly accurate. I’m looking forward to next month’s resolution challenges and more joy. How are you doing on your resolutions? Are you doing a happiness project? How’s it going? What challenges are you finding that inhibit your ability to be successful at your goals? Your comments help bring me more joy, so please feel free to comment away.