Tag Archives: life improvement

My Happiness Project Update 12: Finding Gratefulness in Ordinary Days … And Not the Artificial Kind.

5 Sep

Often times people say health. That’s their number one answer. When all else in your life fails — your relationship sucks, you’re unemployed, you’re financially impaired, you’re homeless, your family drives you crazy,  or your life dreams have become reality nightmares — for all this there is one answer. Health. At least you have your health.

Yes! Yes you do.

But some days you want to be grateful for more than just your health. Some days you want to thank the universe or The Big Guy upstairs for something more than just the disease-free 5-foot-4 body. Sometimes you want to be grateful for more than just having two functioning legs, or the fact that you’re not Helen Keller. Although in retrospect being a humanitarian who overcame adversity to graduate college, publish 12 books and hang out with Mark Twain doesn’t sound too bad. The deaf, blind and mute thing … that doesn’t sound great, though.

In any case I want to be able to have more than just my health and kids on my list. I want more grateful items on my daily life list, or even weekly life list. So where did I happen to get some answers? My Happiness Project. Who came with suggestions? Rubin. Gretchen Rubin.

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Happiness-Project.com

Apparently throughout all her research grateful people tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives.

“Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more … Gratitude fosters forbearance–it’s harder  to feel disappointed with someone when you’re feeling grateful toward him or her. ”

Yeah I needed a little bit of that. Not because of I’m envious of other people’s success or ungrateful for the small kindnesses that few people bestow upon me. On the contrary, I’m not the Dallas-Dynasty-Telenovela envious type of chick, and I often throw out Marv Albert yeses whenever something good happens to me.

So why did I need more gratefulness? I needed to learn to be more grateful during my ordinary days, and not in a fake or forced way. Rubin suggested a daily gratitude journal, where she wrote three things for which she was grateful. I wasn’t sure I could do this and find three different things every day.

Then I read on … it didn’t work for her. Rubin said that instead of bringing her into a grateful state of mind, this gratitude journal pretty much annoyed her. She too thought it felt forced — artificial.

So she came up with another concept that sort of worked for me too. Gratitude Meditation. Not the kind where you sit in silence in that kindergarten pose and just drive yourself crazy because you’ve been sitting still for the last three minutes staring at your clock that doesn’t seem to move. This is the kind of meditation that you can do while eating some Ben & Jerry’s or sipping a glass of Framboise, preferably in a hammock. But considering that I don’t own one the couch or rocking chair would have to do.

I found during this gratitude meditation that sometimes instead of finding things, people, or events to be grateful for, I found characteristics in myself for which I am grateful. Reminders that kept the ordinary days less crappy. Stuff like … Even though I have an Everybody-Loves-Raymond kind of relationship I’m a good wife who’s extremely patient and understanding; even though I am not employed full-time and making good use of my two college degrees, I get to play baseball and have lunch with my four-year old son and one-year old daughter every day; even though some of my dreams have gotten a dose of reality, my dysfunctional family gives me gray hair, and I don’t have a back yard or walk-in closet, I find humor in life’s sucky moments.

Finding gratefulness in ordinary days has led me to believe that on a scale of 1-to-10, I’m probably an 8.7. I should be grateful for that. Considering all that has happened to me I should be a bitter 4.2, but I’m not. Gratitude meditation, who knew?

The Big C Gives Me a Reminder … One Adventure at a Time, One Penny at a Time

30 Aug

Why is it that I constantly have revelations and aha! moments after seeing one of these cancer movies or shows? Why can’t I have this live every day like it’s your last mantra without having death all up in the Kool-Aid?

Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...

Film poster for The Bucket List – Copyright 2007, Warner Bros. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first kick in the ass was over a week ago when I saw a re-run of The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Freeman and Nicholson, ey? It lit a fire under me. So I began the Bucket List Installment and whipped out my mighty Bic pen and began to write down the tiny adventures that would bring excitement to my life. Life to my life.

Then as with anything  in life … dishes, vacuuming, diaper changing, paying bills, AMC television, and lack of sleep slowed me down.

But like always another life and death situation gave me the extra kick in the ass. Showtime‘s The Big C with Laura Linney. Now in truth I’m not a big Showtime watcher. I’m more of an HBO chick, but it did peak my interest so I’m on season two with Netflix. The Big C. Cancer. It’s about a woman who finds out she has terminal cancer and what she does with her life after she finds out.

So without spoiling it for anybody, in Season Two she fights and lives life.  One of her little life items? She runs a marathon, well walks and runs. But she’s determined to finish. As you know I’m not big on running, but I am big on not giving up … on the stubborn determination that drives people.

Image via Showtime.com

I’m happy that both sets of characters decided to live their lives. But I really don’t want to get to a point where I’m sitting at the doctor’s office with a paper gown covering my naked body, and them telling I have only a few months to live. I mean nobody wants that, but it happens. And it sucks above and beyond anything else. I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t want to have to get to that point in order to live everyday like it’s my last.  So I guess that’s why they make movies and shows like this, just so you won’t have to, so I’m grateful for the random reminders that smack me into living.

So then why? Why does this happen? Why do I become the slacker whose Mighty Bic Pen stays in the drawer? That ink needs to hit paper and I know it.

So, why?

Reason One … it’s probably the money thing. Seeing how I’m having technical difficulties in the financial department sort of puts a cramp in my plans to live it up. Can’t very well take a trip, plan an adventure, or wine and dine myself if my money surplus is low. And I know that people with mad fortunes like Oprah say that money can’t buy you happiness, but I never heard a broke-ass person ever say that. I know it can’t buy you happiness, but it sure as hell can get you a seat on the plane there.

Reason Two … lazy. Every single minute of my twenty-four hour day is accounted for, but some days the schedule needs to stop. I’m so run down from motherhood, Guat-hood, wife-hood, and daughter-hood that sometimes when I am actually ahead of schedule and ready to write down a couple of items on My Bucket List, I just want to be lazy. The dark circles under my eyes demand that I be lazy. There can’t be anything wrong with just being lazy sometimes. I need it when I can get it. So relaxation and laziness can be contributing factors.

Reason Three … setbacks. Everyone in life has setbacks whether they deal with health, family, or mundane things like a flat tire on your Toyota. But these setbacks effect your frame of mind and suck the air out of your balloon. I mean I don’t have Tony Robbins in my back pocket to give me some quick pick-me up life changing wisdom every time that happens. But I know I have to find that pick-me up somewhere.

And so I have found it again in Laura Linney and The Big C.

The Bucket List continues, one adventure at a time, one penny at a time.

Adventure to be added to the bucket list: Be able to eat at all the places in California that Guy Fieri lists on his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Show.

Adventure crossed off Bucket List: Whitewater Rafting … Class 4 and 5 rapids in the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon. Amazingly awesome.

Woo-Hoo For Happy Accidents

25 May

Inspiration. It hits you when you least expect it. 

I often find it in many of my rock-bottom moments. I live by the Lero-Lero Factor, so I most definitely find it when people tell me it can’t be done. But the other day, I found it in the simple sentences on the computer screen.

TBM and the 50 Year Project they’re undergoing sort of lit a fire under my ass. I came across the blog this week and that sort of coincided with my Happiness Project Debut. Serendipitous moment indeed.

I’ve always liked that word. Serendipity. The accidental discovery of something pleasant. In my experience accidents are never pleasant, but on the rare occasion that it does happen–that one time, that one percent out of ninety-nine– I think to myself … you need a great word to describe something like this and that’s probably the reason why the word was invented. It’s one of the great ones.

Anyhow as I came across TBM’s About Page I saw it: “… refocus my negative energy into positive thoughts and inspiration.”

I thought yeah! I need me some of that. Everyone in life has got issues, I’ve got plenty, but I don’t really voice them in the blog. I try to find humor in daily blowouts, successes, and unbearable situations. Humor is what gets me through most of the time.  But  sometimes comedy is hard. So I thought I would combine it with my own Happiness Project, and when I read TBM’s blog I thought wow. I need to do this STAT!

So I’m launching it this weekend. The Summer of The Guat.

But let me back track. I know some people are probably thinking: What the hell is a Happiness Project. I wrote about it briefly a couple of weeks ago when I got an email about books on happiness. And I thought to myself: What the hell? Can they see my suck-ass-jump-off-a-cliff days through these fiber optic wires on the Toshiba  computer’s camera-less screen? Is that why I got the list of these books?

No.

Image via Amazon.com

To be fair, I had heard of  Gretchen Rubin, the author of  The Happiness Project, before I got the email. I came across her book while I was hanging at Barnes & Nobles. Yeah I hang at book stores from time to time.

It chronicles a year in her life and her quest at finding happiness or how to be happier in her current life. It’s like Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Eat, Pray, Love without traveling across the world. It’s trying to find happiness in your own everyday crazy hectic life while living in a small apartment in a big city. Although I loved Gilbert’s book, I sure as hell didn’t have money to travel to three countries in one year.

So this week is the “getting started” phase. Just as TBM narrowed her list to thoroughly enjoying: traveling, reading, and watching movies (something I think is truly awesome) I must come up with my own list of what makes me feel good, gives me joy, energy and fun? What makes me feel right?

Although I will be making my own list, TBM’s top three definitely make it to the getting started phase of my Happiness Project. So I’m off in deep thought and in deep comedy to launch the project. Hope you enjoy what’s to come.

Giddy up!