happiness project

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It's hard work to be happy. It is something we each have to seek for ourselves and ultimately happiness means something different for each of us. This is probably why it seems so hard to define. I think that it can also be said that people are confused by what it means to be happy. Does it have to involve laughing and smiling? Can it simply be a feeling of contentment? Do we always know happiness when it is happening?

In the book "Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, there is an exploration of happiness, that while personal for the author gave me some insight into facets of happiness I had never considered. Energy, for example and how it relates to happiness. The author starts here first. She researched energy and its relationship to happiness through the ages and puts a number of theories to the test. Does getting more sleep make you happier? Can you get happy simply by acting happy? This first chapter had me hooked. 

I came across this book a couple years back while "window shopping" with a friend. We had just finished brunch complete with champagne that centered on our search for happiness when we stumbled upon this book in a store. As with most situations with this friend, it seemed the ultimate definition of kismet.

One of my favorite passages from the book is this:

One conclusion was blatantly clear from my happiness research; everyone from contemporary scientists to ancient philosophers agrees that having strong social bonds is probably the MOST meaningful contributor to happiness. The positive-psychology superstars Ed Diener and Martin Seligman cite studies demonstrating that ‘of 24 character strengths, those that best predict life satisfaction are the interpersonal ones.’ Epicurus agreed albeit in slightly more poetic phraseology: ‘Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.’
— Gretchen Rubin - The Happiness Project

In fact, studies agree with this.  Some have shown that having 5 or more friends you can go to when discussing matters of significance were far more likely to describe themselves as "very happy" people. These studies even imply that everything we do is enhanced by having people join us for the process, even the ones we dread doing. (apparently misery loves company because it makes the misery...well...less miserable.) By the way this passage and section is discussed in Chapter 6 of the book; "Make Time For Friends."

So, why am I telling you all of this. it is simple really, number one, happiness comes in and from unexpected places, it is good to keep your mind open to the possibilties of where you might find it and to pay attention when it comes along. I like to tell people to make sure they are listening to the whispers of happiness and contentment for they are typically much more enjoyable than screams of happiness. They live in every day life and friendships but are easily missed and often have the greatest impact on our life and memories. 

The second is that FRIENDSHIPS MATTER! CONNECTIONS MATTER! Cultivating these friendships and connections is what matters most. How are you doing this? How are you taking the time to focus on these friendships and connections? If making time for others you help build your own happiness then I guess Phoebe Buffay was right, there is no selfless good deed. You know what thought? I am okay with that. I meant why can't we all win right?

Full disclosure, I do not own this image and found it on Google from this website   charitywinehouse.co.uk

Full disclosure, I do not own this image and found it on Google from this website charitywinehouse.co.uk

I had to put the rest of the conversation here, it is just too funny...

Rachel: Maybe Joey’s right. Maybe all good deeds are selfish.

Phoebe: I will find a selfless good deed. ‘Cause I just gave birth to three children and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right.

Phoebe: [on phone] I have found a selfless good deed. I went to the park and let a bee sting me.

Joey Tribbiani: How is that a selfless good deed?

Phoebe: It makes the bee look tough in front of his bee friends. The bee’s happy and I am definitely not.

Joey Tribbiani: Uh, Pheebs, you know the bee probably died after it stung you?

Phoebe: [stares blankly] ...Dammit.

This book really is a great.I mean having a project is always fun, but one focused on happiness, what could be better? So I started my own happiness project I even created my own "Happiness Commandments" and "Secrets of Adulthood at the author's suggestion. Since you are my loyal readers, I decided to share them with you.  These are mine....what would yours be?

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That's enough from me...you ready for your own happiness project? Get the book, don't get the book, your choice, but whatever you do, do it for you.

Click on the image of book to pick it up on Amazon and start your project today. Don't forget to tell me all about it.