Tag Archives: Living your best life

Happiness Project Update 14: The Lemon Squeezer

4 Oct

Finding fun. I never thought this concept was complicated. In fact I found it quite simple, but after reading Gretchen Rubin‘s chapter “Be Serious About Play,” I realized I could squeeze in a little more.

Reading this chapter made me reflect on my progress and lack of progress in my own Happiness Project. Am I happier now, than when I started? Well yes and no. I’m not world traveling, rock climbing, bungy jumping or kayaking rapids every weekend, but I’m still finding ways to get through the daily part of life with more fun and less mid-life malaise.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

This whole project was set up to make a change, not a drastic one that never gets follow-up, but a bunch of little changes that add up and make a difference. I needed to flip a switch on a daily basis in order to squeeze every drop of lemon juice from the lemons life left for me. I’d become a squeezer, a Bed, Bath & Beyond Lemon Squeezer.

During all this juice extraction I realized, just as Rubin had written in her chapter “Be Serious About Play,” that you can’t have happiness without fun. Mind blowing concept, I know. So it tripped me out when she mentioned the “sadness of a happiness project.”

Sadness in happiness? What the hell is that? I got plenty of sadness in sadness, it doesn’t need to be creeping up on my happiness project.

But I found that it was a common realization. Apparently, it’s an understanding that there are a lot of things you wish you could do in life, because they sound so interesting and exciting. But then you know that you won’t do them because they’re not really fun for you. A couple of Rubin’s readers had some of the best responses to this awareness. She wrote:

“I will never be an F-1 racer. I will never be a supermodel. I will never know what it’s like to fight in a war. To be a dancer on a cruise ship. To be a dealer in Las Vegas.

“Not because they are entirely impossible to achieve. But because I can’t dance (I tried). I can’t take G forces (I can’t even ride a roller coaster). I am not tall or pretty enough. I hate physics and maths, so I can’t be an astronaut.

“This is less about whether I CAN actually do any of those things, but more about whether I’d actually want to do them. Or to be dedicated enough to work towards them. I will never be that person.”

Dude.

I had to take a minute on that one. I highlighted it. This was so true. I realized that although I wasn’t the kind of person to go out and do things I didn’t want to do, or do them and pretend I enjoyed them just for the sake of impressing a group or a person, there were still some things that I found fun that I may not have openly admitted or pursued because I didn’t think there were kindred spirits out there to join me.

But Rubin challenged me to try to “Find More Fun.” I thought get on it, because apparently having fun is an essential component to a happier life.

So what did I find fun? What made my list? Now considering that I don’t have the Oprah bank account to travel and explore new cities and do adventurous stuff like rock climbing, bungy jumping, and kayaking rapids my list would have to be more realistic and narrowed down a bit to fun on a budget. When the cash flow increases then perhaps I’d be off … traveling. But for now, the lemon squeezer finds more fun in the day-to-day, so that my happiness can increase.

So what’s fun?

Since I’m here in the blogging world, you probably guessed that writing and blogging is something I find fun. You’re right. I do. I get a kick out of putting my stories out there and hearing that other people enjoyed them, or that other people could relate.

I think watching college football is fun. I love hanging out. I love tailgating. I have fun cheering on my team and high-fiving friends and complete strangers when my team scores a touchdown. I have fun saying woo-hoo when this happens. I love saying woo-hoo to myself when I’m watching from my couch on Saturday mornings. I’m all about woo-hoos.

I think watching movies is fun. Mobster movies, 80s movies, psychological thriller movies, and of course comedies. I can buy a ticket “for one” and not feel self-conscious at all that I’m hanging out by myself at the local AMC. But I’m also very grateful for cable and Netflix. They help continue this movie fun quest on a budget.

Board games. I think board games are fun. I remember when I was younger getting a huge thrill out of playing Hungry Hungry Hippo, Trouble, Sorry, Monopoly, and Operation. My friends and sister would play for hours and we’d have so much fun. Lite Brite rocked my world too. So in effort to continue this I opened up a board game they gave my four-year old son and we had a blast. I decided I needed to make a trip to Target so that he could get the Hungry-Hungry-Hippo experience. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Sports. I think sports are fun. Playing sports or running in triathlons really does it for me. I enjoyed playing sports so much growing up that I decided to do the triathlon thing, it brings me the same woo-hoo-cart-wheel type of feelings as it did when I was a skinny teenager.

Seinfeld. I think Seinfeld is fun. I’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld, probably twice, maybe even three times. I love cracking up and he does it for me. I’ve even checked out his new project Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I think laughing is fun, so I check to see what he’s doing.

And last but not least, dancing. I love dancing. I think it’s fun to get my groove on. Now that I’m older I’m not into the whole club dance scene, but I listen to  music every day and I bust a move at home. But I gotta be careful when I’m jamming in my socks, the wooden floor is not soft when I slip and fall because I’m totally into my Solid Gold Dancer mode.

This is the Guat kind of fun and as a lemon squeezer, I’m gonna do my best to keep it up.

 

 

 

My Happiness Project Update 13: Other People’s Crappy Life

19 Sep

I so wish I could be Buddha-like on this happiness-project resolution. I wish I could be one of those faceless shadowy figures who stand on a mountain top with an awesome sunset before them and their hands in the air — the kind of shadowy people who  are pictured in inspirational calendars. That was my goal, but no such luck. Not even close.

This whole gratitude thing proved to be one of the most difficult resolutions of My Happiness Project. I guess most people find it easy to be grateful. But before you go thinking that I’m some kind of an ass, let me clear things up. I am extremely grateful when good things happen to me. I’m busting out cartwheels and thank yous nonstop. They just don’t happen very often.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

I was doing pretty well with that whole gratefulness meditation thing that Gretchen Rubin suggests in her book, however I added chocolate and a glass of my favorite alcoholic beverage. And that seemed to help during ordinary days, but when you have crappy days I think that’s when the whole gratefulness factor needs to step it up a notch. This is where I’ve been failing, because there is not enough chocolate or Framboise.

I usually just get really bummed out because I can’t think of any new reasons for which to be grateful, so I end up watching a comedy to help improve my depressing attitude before going to bed. Then I’m thankful for comedy. Jason Bateman comedies are common during dark days, although I have a wide range of go-to films for crappy days like that.

But the key is thinking of something new or different each week, or each day. When this crappiness occurs, I always end up saying well at least I have my kids and my health. But part of this whole gratefulness resolution is to find more aspects of your life for which to be grateful.

So I got stuck. Then I realized why …

“One of the many ways to define unhappiness is the degree of difference between where you are and where you want to be — or the difference between what is and what you expect.” — Dale Carnegie

Yes. That’s me. There is a big degree of difference between what I am and what I imagined I’d be at 37. Ginormous. But I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, probably a handful of other people feel the same.  So then Gretchen Rubin makes a suggestion. Catastrophe Memoirs. In other words read about someone else’s really crappy, horrible life and be thankful that it wasn’t you. Now I’m all for reading, but I feel bad about gaining appreciation and gratefulness at the expense of others. I don’t want to be that person who reads about a chick with cancer and thinks … well thank God that’s not me. That’s sort of a crappy way to get to a happier place.

But I realized that Rubin wasn’t suggesting that I have the ha-ha this-happened-to-you-and-not-me mentality. It was more of  an “admonition to live fully and thankfully in the present,” and not wait until “catastrophe” strikes in order to be grateful, or in order to do the things that make your life a life. Appreciate ordinary days and cherish your health. This was what Rubin was getting at with all the catastrophe memoirs.

However, I have yet to read one. I imagine when I’m all the way at the bottom I might crack one open without feeling guilty. But for now, hearing about other people’s crappy life will do just fine. Plus I just stocked up on Framboise and chocolate.