Tag Archives: showing appreciation

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.

I’m Not In Kindergarten Anymore, But Gold Stars Are Still Nice

8 Jun

“Don’t expect little gold stars and you’ll be happier for it …”

I read that the other day and couldn’t believe the crap they were trying to unload. Happier, are you kidding me? That would suck.

Let me tell you something, even if you’re not a little kid in kindergarten, gold stars at any age rock. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a smile, or a combination of: “wow, congratulations, good job, that’s cool, that’s awesome, I’m proud of you, dude way to go, you rock …” that sort of stuff goes a long way.

Image via thestickerfactory.co.uk

When you’re a kid you should definitely get a lot of that when you accomplish your goals. It’s a self-esteem thing. I mean let’s not get carried away either, you’re not going to always say “great job” when they clearly haven’t done so, but you use your judgement.

But as an adult you learn that most of your goals and accomplishments are solely for yourself. You don’t really do them for attention or praise. You do it for your own sense of accomplishment and awesomeness. Big or little, you do everything for yourself, for your own I-feel-like-doing-a-cartwheel feeling.

But it is nice when others share in your awesomeness or notice these things, especially family and friends.

I’m not a Kobe Bryant glory hog. In fact, people like that irritate me to no end, but when I read that quote I couldn’t believe it. I’m all about giving gold stars when friends or family do something good, and I’m all about receiving them too. Big or little. Gold stars are a way of saying …

“Hey I noticed that you busted your ass to do something great and I congratulate you.”

“Hey I appreciate that you thought of me even though you have  a lot going on right now.”

“Hey, I know you’ve had a I’m-going-to-jump-off-a-cliff kind of day, but just wanted to let you know that the little things you do matter. I see your efforts.”

“Hey, I know you’re so exhausted and that you’d probably give someone a million dollars for an hour nap, but this meal kicks ass, thanks for whipping it up in your sleepwalker existence.”

Gold stars … they go a long way. Big or little things. They matter.

So even though I give myself recognition or a WOO-HOO for awesome Food Network caliber meals, for sports moments that could be featured on ESPN2, for successfully cleaning up clutter from spaces that look like they were owned by A&E’s Hoarders, for completing a graveyard shift on baby watch 2012, for finding front-door parking in a crazy hectic store, for choosing a great movie from Netflix, or for writing a good piece that features humor and honesty, I still enjoy it when someone notices my effort.

I’m not in kindergarten anymore, but gold stars are still nice. I don’t anticipate them every time I do something. I do things for my own peace of mind and sense of accomplishment, but they are welcomed in my home any time.