Planning: Final Draft of my Plan and Commandments

I’ve decided that the sooner this is finalized, the better.  I start in March, and I want to get to planning exactly what each of my 12 areas entails before I actually begin my Happiness Project, so having my 12 areas finalized is a good first step.  The following is the plan I have come up with for my monthly focus:

  • March: Health
  • April: Slow Down
  • May: Home
  • June: Memories
  • July: Friends
  • August: Attitude
  • September: Work
  • October: Dreams
  • November: Love
  • December: Play
  • January: Money
  • February: Passion

I replaced “energy” with “love” because I want to use a month to focus on my romantic relationship, and because “energy” and “health” seem very similar to me.

I also rewrote some of my commandments and pared them down to eight.  Here is what I came up with.

  1. Give generously without expectations.
  2. Foster human connection.
  3. Allow yourself dreams – and then chase them.
  4. Own only what you can cherish.
  5. Do what you know is right.
  6. Act now without fear.
  7. Create something beautiful.
  8. Treasure the moment.

I like having slightly wordier commandments than a lot of the two- or three-word commandments I see others using because I want to be specific and set guidelines that I know how to follow.  I will probably choose one commandment per day to really focus on, and hope that that turns into reflecting on them habitually.


Planning: Another Ammendment

I decided to change another of my 12 areas. I would like to change Spirituality to Memories. I’m currently reading through Gretchen’s chapter on “Eternity” and understand now that for her, eternity didn’t mean going to heaven or anything with particularly religious undertones (thank goodness for me, because I grew up Catholic and while there were many good things about that, I don’t know that I’d go back.)

I want to take her idea, but rename it something more concrete, which is why I’m going with Memories. I think that during that month, I will start some habits that I always wished I could get into for the sake of looking back, but never was systematic enough to actually start.

For example, I don’t take pictures often enough, and even when I do, they sit on my phone and don’t give me any benefit. I also want to start journaling again. I used to be so good at it, and I stopped when my bedroom was no longer solely my own as I started college. It would be nice to record just the sweet moments from today so I could read them when I feel nostalgic for the good old days when I lived with one of my close friends in Tucson.

Ramblings: 2016


We all know about that number. Experts seem to agree, it was a shitshow of a year. I can’t deny that fact either, but when I look back at 2016, even though things in the world at large sucked, I can’t help but think that that was such a small part of my experience.

2015 was the worst year of my life, hands down. I took a difficult job in a city I hated, I left all of my friends behind and had trouble making new ones, I dumped my asshole of a fiancé (which while being a positive change, definitely hurt more than anything I’ve felt), I lost almost 30 pounds by basically starving myself while I sank into depression.

And then 2016 happened.

I started dating my current boyfriend, who by contrast with my ex – fiancé, shows no signs of being an asshole. I made the decision to move back home to Tucson and followed through, moved in with a close friend, rekindled my friendships with my classmates, and began teaching for a school I love.

So I’m hesitant to say I hate 2016 (sorry, John Oliver). But I will readily admit that the news over the last few months gives me great concern. I’m afraid of living in a country where half the people are saying don’t trust the government and the party in charge (which is normal), and the other half are saying don’t trust the media (less normal, but probably true on some level). Who do we trust?

But that’s beside the point. My point is, how much does one’s political climate affect happiness? I look at the news and feel hopeless. I read about families of people killed halfway across the world in bombings and cry. My personal 2016 was nice, and that allows me to escape into my own life (which feels so much more real), but there’s no denying that 2016 was a hard year for the world, and that must affect happiness in some way.

That’s it. I wish I had more answers. Maybe I’ll find them.

Planning: An Update on my 12 Areas

I have decided to change one of the 12 areas that I’ve chosen for my monthly focus: I don’t feel that Mindfulness resonates well with me personally. I feel kind of bad because there’s so much out there that talks about the healing power of meditation and yoga and being still. It’s not really for me.

I’m changing it to Slowing Down. And I’m choosing this area because I think a lot of unhappiness comes from being unable to appreciate the moment that’s happening right now. I find myself looking to the future, saying I’m so excited for that future and I’m looking forward to all these things. It definitely isn’t bad to have goals and to be excited by what’s coming. In fact, it’s healthy.

The problem is when you promise yourself that when these things happen, then you’ll be happy. When I go on my vacation to Seattle next week, then I’ll be happy. When I get to summer vacation and have my adventure in Europe, then I’ll be happy. But why can’t I be happy right now, also? How wonderful it is that I’m grading lab reports and giving my students necessary feedback!  What would I trade for more opportunities to give students my care and love? But I get caught up in the stress that comes with being a teacher when I should slow down and stop thinking about everything I need to do and start appreciating what’s happening right now.

So I’ll flesh it out more, but I think this area speaks to me more than Mindfulness.

Ramblings: Leaving One Task Behind

The other day, I was running late while I was getting ready for work.  I’ve been making a point of keeping my room orderly, and it has been doing wonders for my general happiness.  I feel less stressed when I know exactly where everything is and exactly where everything goes.  That’s why I worried about the scarf I hadn’t put away as I walked out the door.  I left it on my bedroom floor.  I was worried that that scarf, along with the jacket next to it and my unmade bed, would nag at me for the rest of the day until I came home from work and put it away, the same way that unfinished tasks weigh on my mind when I go to bed.

Surprisingly enough, it didn’t bother me at all for the rest of the day.  And in fact, when I was feeling particularly stress out on my way home from work, as I tend to do in the evenings and at night, I got home to find the scarf and jacket and unmade bed waiting for me, completely forgotten until I walked in on them.  And even then, they didn’t stress me out further.  Instead, I calmly walked across my room and gently placed my belongings back where they belonged and made my bed.  This took one minute.  It was one minute to catch my breath before I dove back into my busy life, and one minute to complete a small task that brought me a feeling of small triumph.

Sometimes we need that small victory, and I realized that by allowing a couple of tasks to go undone at the start of my day, I was able to give myself that victory at the time that I needed it.  Maybe this is a new strategy to deal with stress.  If there is no urgency to a task – no deadline or consequence for putting it off – it might be best to just leave tiny things for times when I need a victory in my life.  In any case, it was relaxing and satisfying to that task just at that time.

Planning: My Twelve Commandments

Ten Commandments

I have made a draft of my twelve commandments.  If anything changes before I start my project in March, I’ll let you know.

  1. One thing at a time.
  2. Give generously without expectations.
  3. Foster human connection.
  4. Allow yourself to dream – and then chase them.
  5. Own only what you can cherish.
  6. Be yourself.
  7. Let things go.
  8. Do it now.
  9. Do what you know is right.
  10. Act without fear.
  11. Create something.
  12. Treasure the moment.

I’ve also come up with 12 areas to focus on over the next 12 months.  Most of them mirror Gretchen’s, but some of her areas aren’t relevant for me since I’m not married and don’t have children.  Here are my 12 areas:

  1. Energy
  2. Attitude
  3. Passion
  4. Play
  5. Work
  6. Friends
  7. Spirituality
  8. Home
  9. Money
  10. Mindfulness
  11. Dreams
  12. Health

I have to admit, “health” and “energy” seem very similar to me, but I feel that they are somehow different.  If I find them to be too similar, I might combine them and choose another area, but for now, I’ll keep it.

Planning: Where to Start?


My happiness project blog has been inspired, as you might recognize, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  My first blog posts, I imagine, will probably be about how I’m setting up my own Happiness Project, because I honestly have very little idea where to begin.  I could just copy Gretchen Rubin, but I’ve never been one for just copying what others have already done.  I want to make this project my own.

Now part of this project, for me, is being completely honest with myself, and therefore on my blog I’m going to be completely honest with you, my reader.

I think the first step of a happiness project is to figure out what you think makes you happy, and what you think takes away from being happy.

I am a questioner, which means to me that I don’t meet expectations unless I personally approve those expectations (I’m not going to go out of my way to do something someone wants me to do if I don’t see the point).  That doesn’t sound particularly flattering, but I will readily admit that it’s the truth. I feel that in order to increase my own happiness, I am wired in a way that I must follow my own rules on how to do it. I know my project will look different from Gretchen’s, even though I’m not yet positive how.

I consider myself something of an explorer when I consider how I like to spend my free time – I love to read, travel, and learn, and everything I read, everywhere I go, and every new skill I learn, all of these things open more and more doors and worlds for me to explore further.  The world is an exciting place, with layer upon layer of new destinations once hidden, and new things to try always waiting just around the corner.

If you’re into MBTI, mine is INTJ, which you can read about and take the test by following the link.  I think that reading my results doesn’t provide me personally with any information: they are basically a summary based on how I answered a bunch if questions. This means two things. One, since I already know my answers to those questions having taken the test, I probably know myself reasonably well. And two, since there are such a large number of questions, the results are reasonably accurate. If you don’t know me, I do think reading those results can tell you about my personality, and in turn also provide hints about what might make me happy or not.

So that’s just a little about me.  I’ll be working on a plan for my Happiness Project, and I think knowing the above information about myself is a great step.  I already have some clues as to what to incorporate – things like giving myself more opportunities and ways to explore, ways for me to work on things that I personally set goals and expectations for. I think I must also find ways for me to face my anxieties and fears and remove some of the negative things I’m getting from them. My hope is that in my next post, I’ll be able to talk about some sort of plan for this whole project.  Until then, see you next time!