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.

enjoy life guest post: paula sexton

5-ways-to-make-life-enjoyable

I am thrilled to feature my second guest post on the blog today (Read the first here). May I present to you, Paula from The Geeky Shopaholic! I met Paula through Leigh Kramer‘s What I’m Into Link-Up. I liked her blog and listed her as one of my best blogs of 2015 and I am beyond thrilled that she consented to guest post today.

geeky_shopaholicPaula is a fellow geek and lifestyle blogger who loves to read, shop, travel, and obsess about SuperWhoLock (the television shows: Supernatural, Dr. Who, and Sherlock). She is Mom to a Chihuahua named Buffy. And would most likely be sorted into Hufflepuff (a Harry Potter reference). You can find her on her blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Take it away, Paula!

I am honored to be guest posting at Shannan Enjoys Life today! She asked me to give a few tips on how I enjoy my life. So, here are five ways that I’ve made my life more enjoyable.

Strive for a work/life balance

I am going into my third year as the third shift manager for my store. Most people only last a year. Why have I stayed? Third shift allows me to have a good work/life balance. I work four nights on, and then I have four nights off. It’s long hours, but it’s worth it to have four days to live my life. Because I’m not someone who lives to work. I work so that I can live.

I know that it’s not easy to find a work/life balance. There are times in life when the balance will shift one way or the other. But I believe that striving for that balance is one of the first steps in enjoying your own life.

Know what is important to you

For me, the most important thing in my life are the people in my life. My boyfriend and I both work in retail, so we have crazy schedules, but we always find a way to make time for each other. I live in a different city than my family, but I go home to visit as often as possible. My friends are all married and most have children, but we still get together several times a year. We go to lunch, or on a shopping trip, or spend a day at the water park. Making time for those you love is one of the best ways to enjoy your life.

I also make time for the things that I love. Like writing for my blog, and reading. When I make these two activities a priority, I feel more like myself, and that makes me a happier person. What is something that you love to do? Drawing? Writing? Hiking? Whatever it is, be sure that you make time for it.

Make your home a refuge

buffy_geeky_shopaholicI’ve always believed that a person’s home should be their refuge from the world. It should be calm and peaceful. For me that means, having as little clutter as possible. I feel more focused, and I’m better able to enjoy my home when it is neat and in order.

Something else that helps make my home a refuge is having a dog. Not everyone likes pets, but I believe that they truly make a house a home. At least, that is what Buffy did for me.

Volunteer

A few years ago I was asked to be Captain of my store’s Relay for Life Team. Immediately I said yes, because Cancer has touched my family and I wanted to help in the fight against it.

Volunteering was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was fun! It was a great way to connect with the people I work with outside of work. I learned their stories and why the Relay was so important to them.

Find a cause that you believe in and volunteer to help. I guarantee that it will make your life brighter!

Say yes more than no

I always said no to things. I was too shy. But around my mid-twenties I started to say yes. It started with a trip to Greece. Everyone told me I would back out, but all their doubts did was make me more determined to go. And I did! It was amazing! It changed my perspective about myself. I am now an adventurer!

You don’t have to say yes to everything. I have no desire to bungee jump or sky dive. (If you do – go for it!) But when opportunities come your way to do something that you’ve always dreamed of, say yes!

This is what I do to enjoy my life. Tell me about yourself, what do you do to enjoy life?

friday’s “secret”: to be happy, make someone else happy

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

– Gretchen Rubin

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shenna “LaShay B” Townsend for another Enjoy Life interview. Shenna is currently working on a project that she started three years ago, a part of which is collecting and donating prom dresses for girls. I will post this interview within the next couple of weeks. And if you have any dresses that would be suitable for a banquet or prom that you no longer need, I would like for you to consider donating to her project. I will post details in the interview.

I took a dress to donate to her when I did the interview. It felt wonderful. I felt happy.

How are you going to be happy this week?

enjoy life…