Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Happiness Challenge

Happy New Year Everyone!!
It is 2012. Wow, I can't believe how fast last year went by. And even now, it's already the third week in January. Craziness.

So sometime last year I stumbled upon The Happiness Project, the book. I was in the bookstore, one of my favorite places, and spotted this really bright blue book. I was in there for a purpose, so I told myself I wasn't allowed to buy any more books; plus I have a waiting list of all the books I'm supposed to be reading. So I wrote the name down in order to look it up later. The book is about doing things that make you happy and getting rid of all the things that do not contribute to you overall well-being. Check out the website:

I'm sure we can debate on what defines happiness and if there really is such a thing. But to me, The Happiness Project is just like any other list of goals we want to obtain for ourselves, whether or not we articulate it. So, for the new year, I have found that many of the things that I want to do are in line with the happiness challenge from 2010 that I stumbled upon on youtube. So, rather than reinventing the wheel, I've decided (at least for now) to check out the challenge and maybe even follow it. The author - Gretchen Rubin - has posted weekly videos on items inside the Happiness Challenge. And yes, there is one for 2012, but I really like the 2010 one, so I'm going to start there.

I decide to jump right in and start as though I am watching the videos in year they are made. I'm coming on week 4, so I will look at the first 3 weeks and then jump right in. I do need to write more, so I may blog about each of the weeks; we'll see.

So, I've watched the first 4 videos and here's the summary:

Month 1: Get Energized
1. Get more sleep
2. Get more exercise
3. Toss and Organize
4. Tackle a nagging task

Most of these I have already been working on, so great alignment. I definitely need to work on #1 the most. (1) Getting more sleep is so important. I enjoy being up when I know others are asleep. It does make me feel as though I'm getting ahead and getting things done. The truth of the matter is that time is equal whether it's 11pm-1am or 5pm-7pm, so maybe that is one fundamental I will just have to challenge myself with. Getting more sleep for me would mean going to bed earlier. If I go to bed earlier then I will wake up earlier, then I will go in to work earlier, and thus leave earlier, leaving time in the later afternoon to do those things I am doing late at night. In theory this works. In practice, sometimes we leave work at the same time if we get in at 7:30am or 9am, so that will really be a culture change for me. It's ok to leave before 5pm if you got in before 8. I think most young professionals, or maybe just people in general, want to get ALL the work done. And it's really impossible - it will never ALL be done, and it will still be waiting for you when you come in the next day. Work-Life balance is key.

(2) Exercise more. I know this. I used to do so many extracurricular activities in high school. I had the basketball coach yelling at me to run more, run faster, jump higher. I had the volleyball coach yelling at me to run more, run faster, jump higher. And I had phys Ed 2 times a week to learn to run more, run faster, and jump higher. Then you get to college and there is no one yelling at you. you have to motivate yourself. Ok, but that wasn't too bad. I stayed in the dorms and found friends that also missed their coaches yelling at them, so we went to the gym together. We took fitness classes. We ran to our 8am classes (look, I have never been a morning person). And then you graduate from college and your physique is really up to you. So now, years out of structured schooling, and it's time to get back with the program. I'm not in horrible shape, so I don't feel the need to pay a personal trainer to yell at me, but I can motivate myself to get back to the gym. I'm implemented Workout Wednesdays, so at the very least I am doing 30 mins of exercise every Wednesday - no if's, and's, or but's. If I can't make the gym I lay down that yoga mat at home and get to crunching. If I don't want to sweat out my hair I can do toning and stretching. The more excuses we make NOT to do something, the more likely we will get comfortable not doing it. My other pitfall is not being prepared for the gym. Lots of time I will want to go but I might have left my sneakers or clothing at home. And we all know - once you go home, you are NOT going back out!!! (Don't even try to lie to yourself). So I am also keeping a gym bag in the trunk with workout clothes, a lock, lotion, and sneakers. NO EXCUSES!!

(3) Toss and Organize. The story of my life!! I have some much STUFF. I'm still working on minimizing with getting rid of things I don't need. This include physical objects,, as well as negative people. My main source of disorganization is PAPER!! It accumulates so easily. And now with trying to recycle, I have to hold on to it even longer so I can take it to the recycling center. So, I'm working on throwing out papers that do not matter, and filing the important ones. Anything else should just get tossed. I think if I cleared out all the paper in my apartment that was junk, I'd probably clear out 3 full boxes of stuff.

(4) Tackle a nagging task. I have 2 of these facing me right now. 1 is something from work that I have been procrastinating on, and the other is to really get my budget together. The second one is not difficult, it just requires me to carve out a good hour to sit down and crunch the numbers. Probably the contributing factor to that delay is that once I have it in black & white I will have to obey it. My goal this year is to reduce my debt. This means tight spending and minimizing expenses.

Ok, so that's the plan. I will start working on #4, as #'s 1-3 will be in the back of my head. Feel free to join me on this challenge. Comment below on how you are doing, and we can support each other.

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