Happiness in Progress

As you might know from my blog post a few days ago, I have started my own happiness project. It’s only been a little while, but I guess this thing needs a bit more clarification.

Prime objective is, of course, to stop myself from wasting my days being miserable and not doing things and then feeling more miserable because I haven’t done anything. So, as a result, doing anything pretty much is progress. But I do admit that I am a wee bit ambitious, so there is a more grand goal here, too. It’s hard to put into words, but I am essentially looking to achieve a feeling of purpose, satisfaction and, of course, happiness (hence the title of the project).

But, of course, it’s not like you do on specific thing and then feel purposeful, happy and satisfied forever. It kind of fluctuates. One day you feel energetic and motivated, the next day you fail to overcome the major hurdle of getting out of bed. Also, these things are not entirely self-administered. Of course, there are internal factors that lead to happiness, but there are also external factors that you have no control over whatsoever, and there is, last but not least, that thing called luck. So for my project I focus on what I myself can do to feel better, and on nothing else.

Gretchen Rubin, whose book inspired me to start my own happiness project, recommends that you set concrete goals and keep track of them:

Make resolutions that are concrete and manageable. “Play with my dog each morning” is more effective than “Get more fun out of life.” Track your resolutions by finding a way to hold yourself accountable.

So I followed her example and filled in a chart (you can find the blank chart on page 13 of this document – page 1 to 12 might serve as examples to you) with seven individual and manageable resolutions (below).

  1. Develop a regular sleeping pattern – This is a big problem of mine. I am really not a morning person, so I prefer doing work at night. Plus, I am a child mentally when it comes to sleep: I don’t want to go to bed in the evening and also really don’t want to get up in the morning. Problem is that I live alone and have no one who nags me about it.
  2. Do daily Duolingo in Spanish and Danish – You probably know this online language learning platform (if not, please do check it out!). For me as a language student regular practice is essential. Especially in Spanish, this aspect is missing from my university course where we have a seminar titled “Grammar” and another one titled “Vocabulary”, that focus only on that one thing. So Duolingo comes as a refreshing new opportunity for me. I also love how it is like a game and you can save “lingots” and all that.
  3. Read a lot – Self-explanatory, I hope. Maybe this goal needs to be a bit more measurable (like “read 50 pages a day”) but I think that would be too forced.
  4. Master the art of make-up – Make-up has always been a mystery to me. I see how powerful it can be and it really fascinates me but I just can’t get the hang of it. Maybe if I practice a bit and watch some tutorials on YouTube, this won’t bother me as much.
  5. Be more active – We all know that there are all these studies on how regular exercise makes us happier and endorphin and all that, but I frankly hate working out (detailed description here). So for me “be more active” means walking to university, taking the bike to ride into town and maybe swimming from time to time. Nothing grand.
  6. Blog every day – And here I am…
  7. Do what has to be done – This one is the most important one, I think. Could also be paraphrased as “stop procrastinating”. This is everything from doing the homework for my Danish course to doing laundry and buying groceries and getting out of bed every day.

Every-day life seems to be constantly getting in the way of this,in the end, when happiness is the objective Christmas parties aren’t exactly counter-productive… So far my track sheet contains an encouraging number of ticks and also some crosses, but I guess that’s about right. After all, this is a work in progress.

B x

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