I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.
-Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
Happy Birthday, 2012!
I couldn’t be more excited about this year! I have so many things to look forward to, and I’m being propelled forward by my 101 in 1001 list. If you haven’t made one yet and you’re looking for some purpose in your life, DO IT! I’ve never felt more excited about a new year than I am right now. I’m starting a new monthly feature on the blog simply called Project 101, inspired by “The Happiness Project”, a book written by Gretchen Rubin. Simply put, this book has changed my life. It changed how I think about happiness, it changed how I emotionally react to conflict, and it has made me a 100% more positive thinker. I highly recommend this book, even if you think you’re happy enough, this book will help you achieve a level of happiness above and beyond what you thought possible. Gretchen explains in the book that your life circumstances only affect about 10-20% of your level of happiness, genetics account for about 50%, and the rest is UP TO YOU! What this means to me is even if you’re broke, unemployed, suffering a loss, and starving, you can still be HAPPY, but you have to change your thinking, because 30-40% of what affects your happiness is YOUR MIND. God, I love that! I have plenty to be unhappy about, so much to be down and out over, but I choose happiness, which is not always easy. I wouldn’t say I’m bubbly and jovial every single day, but deep down, I’m still happy.
Dane Cook once did a hilarious bit about how when you have a good cry you start thinking about all of the horrible and sad things that have happened to you in your life to cry harder and get it all out. You look in the mirror and your nose is all gooey and runny and your face looks like a giant pink cotton ball, but the second someone knocks on the door or calls you on the phone, you instantly change your mood and answer as if nothing is the matter at all. The skit is hysterical, but the underlying message is powerful, if you over think everything, like I do.
You can, in an instant, change your attitude, your mood, your emotions, and your thinking. All you have to do is want to. That’s it. It’s simple, not easy. There will be some things you’re going to need to figure out on your own. You’re going to have to be honest with yourself, too. Am I really angry? Or am I just acting angry? Am I really sad? Or do I just want attention? Am I bored? Or am I just lazy? What are the things I can do to make myself happier? (Goals) What are my weaknesses and how can I change them? (Challenges) What do I enjoy doing? (Hobbies) When I made my 101 list, I had all of this in mind.
Gretchen also talks about dividing and conquering. Basically, what do want to focus on? Each month she focused on one specific subject. Things like Friendship, Marriage, Play, Vitality, and Mindfulness. She gave herself a year, so twelve subjects, with December being the month that she would incorporate everything she learned throughout the year. My goal is different. I’m using my 101 time limit which is a little under three years from now to accomplish the goals on my list, but I love the idea of focusing on one thing each month. January is my jumping off month. February will be probably be Relationships, focusing on friendships, marriage, family, etc. March will be BIRTHDAY, focusing on new habits for ME and starting my new decade off right! Yay, 30! And so on…
There are some tasks on my list that I wanted to accomplish each month, like having tea with my grandmother. I’ve spent other time with her the past few months, but now that the holidays are drawing to a close, I want to keep that connection. I also want to vote in every election for one year, and how lucky that I can achieve this goal during an actual election year! Seems awfully fitting! I know now that in order to achieve goals, they need to be in my face every day. I am scatter brained like no one I’ve ever met, which is why I have lists for my lists and write everything down. While the eventual due date for this list isn’t until late summer 2014, I am privy to the fact that time doesn’t slow down just because I have things to do. I have to be more proactive than to think ”Oh, I have until 2014!” especially when I’ve given myself things to do each and every month. So, I’ve broken down my list for January into three categories: In Progress, Monthly, and Jump In. (Sometimes lighting a fire under my own ass is just what the doctor ordered.) I’ve listed links and ideas, too, to set myself up for the month; for me it’s sort of like making a meal plan for the week when I’m eating healthy. It’s so much easier to stick to something when I have a set plan. Spontaneity is fine… in small doses.
49 Days in, and counting…
3. Pay off medical debt.
Thanks to my handy dandy DIMY Planner, I have my budget built right in! (Still taking orders if you want one!)
5. Read 10 Classics. (started Wuthering Heights 12/2011)
13. Finish my beautiful afghan.
15. Create enough recipes to write a cookbook. (See FoodFodder in the menu!)
18. Write an article and submit it to a National Newspaper. (I’m going to submit “I Believe…” next year to every National Newspaper.)
19. Achieve goal weight of 145 lbs. (The 17 Day Diet is working for me!)
29. Learn and teach the girls sign language. (We’ve learned Hello and All Done! We’re working on Bye Bye, More, Please, I Love You, Drink, Eat, and Thank You.)
42. Purchase renter’s insurance with flood protection, since we live by a river that almost flooded last year. (We’re researching prices and combining our car insurance with it. Ryan needs his Michigan license first though.)
89. Donate to 5 worthy causes. (Women’s Shelter – clothes, Library – books, Habitat for Humanity – TVs)
98. Write 10 poems. (1 down 9 to go!)
17. Write 25 more articles for Examiner.com
I discovered if I write one article per month, I will more than exceed my goal of 25. Ryan and I are planning a trip to Chicago in March, so I’m hoping to visit a couple of cafes while we’re there for some cafe reviews.
50. Vote in every election for one year. (local included)
General Voting Information – vote411.org
59. Use my Pay It Forward certificates.
67. Have tea with my grandmother once per month.
95. Answer the “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”.
(I smell a blog post!)
Looks like it’s time to dust off the library card!
I’m making an effort to read more this year. Especially during our month of no TV. (Which will probably happen around July while it’s warm and when we should be outside.)
4. Read War and Peace.
5. Read 10 Classics.
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (supposedly)
Four that I really want to include are:
Saturday – Ian McEwan
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (In Progress)
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
6. Read 4 Biographies.
Mindy Kaling (Thank you, Shana!)
Albert Einstein – I haven’t chosen which one yet, although Walter Isaacson (of Steve Jobs’ Biography) wrote a couple that look interesting.
7. Read 25 books in a year.**
**Planned Books for January:
*Wuthering Heights – I’m currently meandering through this with a dictionary and reading it out loud at times. When she starts writing like an Irishman, I’m flabbergasted and confused. Nothing like a classic to make me feel like a simpleton, but, we press on.
*The Happiness Project (again!)
34. Reorganize the pantry.
36. Purge clothing that no longer fits. (If it’s too big, it’s gone. Maternity clothes are the exception, just in case.)
Start with Winter!
Donate it to a Women’s Shelter!
73. Make imprints of the girls’ hands and feet and decorate.
74. Find a church. (that’s not an hour away)
Blue Roof Church
What is your focus this month? This year?
Are you happy? Do you think you could be happier?