Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happiness Project & FUN

The Happiness Project. Ha after my post last night...sounds like something I should take on, no?

Well it's actually the title of the book I picked up in the Savannah airport on the way home, and I finished half the book on the plane. I have yet to crack back into it...because I've been pondering some of the gems that I took from the first half and wanted the opportunity to write about them too.

Gretchen Rubin, the author, got me thinking about her attempts at being a better partner and better mother. I especially took home the points that all we can really do is control and change ourselves. And that sometimes we have to rely upon other people in our lives to be our intimacy "partners" as our spouse isn't generally capable of being able to do it the way we envisioned...and vice versa---I think this is something that is coming up with more frequency in everyday conversations I'm having too....

Another section stuck out to me when Gretchen developed her own theory about finding happiness....
"To be happy, I needed to generate more positive emotions, so that I increased the amount of joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, gratitude, intimacy, and friendship in life....I also needed to remove sources of bad feelings, so that I suffered less guilt, remorse, shame, anger, envy, boredom, and irritation....Apart from feeling more "good" and feeling less "bad," I saw that I also needed to consider feeling right.

"Feeling right" was a trickier concept: it was the feeling that I'm living the life I'm supposed to lead....."Feeling right" is about living the life that's right for you---in occupation, location, marital status, and so on. It's also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself...."

And while all of these pieces have stuck with me throughout the last two days....I think the chapter that has stuck out the most is the one about increasing FUN. It was the chapter that made me dig a pen out of my carry-on and attempt to list the things that truly do make me feel like I'm having FUN. There are a lot of things that bring me enjoyment, lots of things that make me feel fulfilled, lots of things that make me happy....but not all of those are truly continuously things that make me feel that they're unapologetically FUN. The things that made my list? Well, many are things I haven't done for a long time, but I also found that I've been pushing myself to engage in quite a few things that are FUN and that many of my goals on my year 30 list line up pretty well to this pursuit of FUN....guess maybe my heart/mind knew that I needed more of it before my analytical part of me did!

1) Cooking/Baking
2) Scrabble over beer nights
3) Exploring new places/things/cultures
4) Dancing
5) Reading Thursday New York Times over coffee
6) Flirting (especially when starting out with Tall D)
7) Helping other people feel good (ex dressing/life improvements/volunteering with others)
8) Visiting old friends
9) Documentary nights on the couch (especially with Tall D)

The first four on the list came easy. The next two came after some thought. And the final three arrived after some more moments. I thought of these next final two but wasn't sure about adding them:

10) Driving the Sorento, especially with happy dog faces in back
11) Singing loud to the radio

And while listing items on the plane, I couldn't really decide if hiking/running etc is something that I truly think is FUN or just something that I do cause it's fulfilling and let's me spend time with others....but yesterday's summit helped me discover that I truly do think hiking is FUN. It was fun in the sense (that the book describes) as challenging fun. I was doing something outside my comfort zone, pushing myself, but also doing some of those things that I do sweating, breathing deep, spending time in nature, moving at my own pace, and bounding along with my two awesome dogs. The 2.5 miles up was a mental challenge at times but I barely stopped moving and just kept on putting one foot in front of the other. I jogged about two of the miles down, carefully picking my way down on the more loose and craggy spots, but supportively surrounded by the dogs with Anna staying about 20 feet max in front of me and Roxi, as usual, right along my heels or showing me the way down a more difficult's always incredible how animals can sense exactly what one needs.

So here are some pictures from yesterday's FUN:

I also had a great early evening "helping" provide insight to a mutual friend of mine and Tall D's. It was fun helping him find new goals and ways to achieve them (#7). I had "FUN" delivering eggs to the neighbors yesterday with cards, ordering gifts for a couple of my friends today, and planning an overnight backpacking trip with my gal T for this weekend. So it looks like I should add the following two items to the FUN list as well:

11) Hiking/outdoor pursuits
12) Showing people I care via little gestures/ways

And on that same note, I'm so glad that I found a new friend in T. Sometimes God brings new people into our lives just when we need them most...and while T arrived (and listened) right as I was entering into this period of mess, she's been a fabulous supporter, ear, happy hour partaker, and outdoor pursuits partner. I haven't met a new friend like her since high school....someone I can say "hey, want to go do x,y,z thing in the next week?" and T always responds with an enthusiastic yes. T also happens to be my only current friend on the west side. Regardless of whether we remain long term friends, I am so incredibly fortunate to have met someone new who provides me with so much of what I currently need...and who seems to feel the same way. Joy: meeting someone new that you just completely connect with.

Ironically in this moment I can think of lots of things that I find FUN....but it's just creating the opportunity to go do them. Case in point: beach bonfires, lazy fishing days, learning new skills, going up in a hot air balloon, conversations around firepits, wakeboarding/tubing, and the list could go on and on....

Lots of additional thoughts and improved venues/changes I'm looking into for the coming month. I still contain the same immense sadness in my heart and soul and it will continue to reside there for months to come...but I'm also enjoying reflecting upon and continuing to seek out the moments of FUN added into my goals.

What do you find to be FUN?!


  1. I think it great that you are being intentional about having fun! This is a timely post for me to read because it reminds me that we all have different definitions of fun. Lately I feel like I do not fall under the widely accepted definition of 'fun', meaning I don't stay up late, I don't drink very much, I'm not the 'woo hoo center of attention girl'. I am quiet and reserved and I got to bed at 9 and I get up at 5:30 and I run like 30-40 miles a week. And I find my life to be fun, but I know from the outside looking in, people probably think of my life as being pretty boring... But like a friend reminded me this weekend, I should stop justifying my choices and just embrace my idea of fun. Fun to me is drinking coffee while reading blogs, reading a great book that sucks you in, running around/along local rivers and lakes, knitting while watching a favorite movie, gabbing with girlfriends over glasses of wine, and cuddling with my nephews and niece!

    1. Your ideas for FUN sound absolutely great to me too. The ways of the world..aren't always the most fulfilling and don't tend to bring much happiness truly. Thanks for sharing--loving having you stop by! :)