happier 2023!

The days are long, but the years are short.

– Gretchen Rubin

Normally, I agree with Gretchen Rubin but I am not so sure about 2022. Whew! What a year! It was a rough one. I started this blog ten years go, and one thing has been consistently true. You can always tell how I am doing by whether or not I am posting on this site and it has been about 10 months since I have posted anything.

I do this thing where I literally forget unpleasantness in my life. I have a difficult time remembering two years of college because I was suffering from undiagnosed depression. It’s only when I talk with friends with whom I have shared experiences and they remind me that “this happened” and “that happened”, that all those events come screaming back to me. 2022 was like that.

It has taken me years to learn that I am the only thing I can control. Which I often find it hard to believe and then don’t do very well. But I am determined to have a happier 2023, even if the only thing that makes it happier are the changes I make in how I move in the world.

These changes are not mind-blowing: more intention, being present for the Hubby and the Buddy Man, reading more, playing the Sims, cooking food I love, running, basically anything that allows me to enjoy life more, all things I have talked about before here on this blog. My issue is consistency so I took 2022 investigating (with the help of my licensed therapist) what is my major hang up to making any lasting change. Hopefully my new understanding will be a catalyst to a happier 2023.

Here’s to happier 2023 for us all.

enjoy life…

friday’s “secret” – there aren’t secrets

When I do post on the third Friday of every month, I like to post about the “secret” to enjoying life.  First I hope you will note the tongue-in-cheek use of the quotation marks around the word, secret.  That’s because the truth is that there are no secrets to enjoying your life. 

I think most of us have an idea of what we like to do and what we could do to enjoy our lives. If you don’t know, you should definitely make it your mission to find out what those things are. But once you do know what they are, if anything, the “secret” or “trick” or the thing is that you have to actually do those things that you enjoy. Without guilt and without excuses.

That’s harder to do than it was for me to type. I struggle with this constantly.  I really enjoy playing the Sims 4, a life simulation computer game where you build homes, create characters (or sims) and have them live their lives.  Correction, I LOVE playing the Sims. It is one of the only things that I can do where I lose all sense of time and space.  My life challenges slip away and I forget about them as I redesign a house or build a studio for my artist sim, Grace Coddington. I have so much fun!

But somehow, through life experiences, books I’ve read stressing the importance of productivity and efficiency, and maybe a false sense of my own importance, I find myself feeling guilty about playing.  Shouldn’t I be doing something else that’s more important? Like reading? Maybe. But if the Buddy Man is fed, the house is humming along, and work commitments have been met, I’m learning it’s OK to stop and play the Sims 4.

So do the things that are enjoyable to you. That’s the “secret” to enjoying your life. I’ve got to go. Grace has another masterpiece to paint.

…enjoy life

PS. If any out there also plays the Sims, I’m MyCuratedSims.

book review: “the happiness project”

At the beginning of 2011, I wasn’t in a good place.  I had a wonderful life (a pretty decent job, a wonderful husband) but I was feeling blah! My sister had just gotten a new puppy, Radar, but needing to go back to work. He was still too young to be left at home alone.  So, I drove up to nanny.  While I was there, she asked me if I had read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. I had not.  When she went to sleep, I stayed awake and read the first chapter: “Getting Started”. It set off the waterworks.

I am happy – but I’m not as happy as I should be.  I have such a good life, I want to appreciate it more – and live up to it better. I had a hard time explaining it.  I complain too much, I get annoyed more than I should.  I should be more grateful.  I think it felt happier, I’d behave better.”

She introduced a word that I had never heard of before: malaise – a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief.  That was what I was feeling.  I had to have this book! And I went out the next day and bought my own copy.

Every month, Gretchen tackled a new category: January – Boost Energy where she tried to form habits like going to sleep earlier and tackling a nagging task. And in February – Remember Love, she tried to give proofs of love and quit nagging.  So on and so forth.

At that time, I was convinced (note that I said at THAT time) I was a very logical person – a left-brain, definitely.  And Gretchen was approaching this very subjective topic of happiness in a logical, systematic, and determined way. I don’t know how to make you understand how much that appealed to me. It was definitely what I needed at the time.

The results of Gretchen’s work have become permanent fixtures in my life.

Her concept of writing personal commandments, “personal overarching principles that can guide decision making”, appealed and I have slowly developed my own over the years.  They include: Be authentic and Find the Peace. Her quote: “the days are long but the years are short” has been a refrain that I utter every week as I make it through the day.

Gretchen took her happiness project and focused on the details of habit formation in her next book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.  That led her to seek to understand why it was so much easier for some people to form habits than others which led to her next bestseller, The Four Tendencies. I’m an Obliger and that knowledge has led to some amazing realizations in my life, albeit a conversation for another day.

You can’t go wrong reading any of these three books if you are interested in becoming happier and forming habits that have a decent chance of sticking.

til tomorrow, enjoy life

Catch up on the rest of this series – This Bookman: Meditations & Miscellany.