Have you heard of "The Happiness Project"? It's a book by Gretchen Rubin and it's a book about, you guessed it, finding happiness. Not as in finding happiness when you're at your lowest level, but maintaining your happiness, improving it. I am part of a book club that is taking the happiness project to heart and we are examining a chapter a month (there are 12 chapters) to find ways in which we can be happier.
At our most recent lunch meeting to discuss aiming higher a.k.a. Chapter 3, I ordered a banana split. I didn't want a sandwich or soup or an omelette or pancakes. I wanted a banana split, so I ordered, ate it, and marked it up as a win for the day. And, it was fantastic.
In the book, Gretchen discusses her commandments. "Rules" she lives by. Some of my fellow book club friends planned to make commandments of their own and I realized I already had some of my own. Coincidentally, all rules have room for a banana split.
10. Rebel. I'm more of a soft rebeller. I don't chain myself to trees in protest or storm capitol buildings to try to enforce change. But if society thinks it's time for me to get married/have children/lose weight/get Botox, than I find myself softy rebelling with a pleasant no, thank you. Someone calls you fat because you're not model thin? Eat a banana split and tell them to suck it.
9. Be okay being alone. On a Saturday night, in a coffee shop drinking a latte, anywhere sans phone, I know I am okay being alone. Also, be okay with being alone in your belief(s). Even it's not the most popular, trust yourself enough to be okay standing alone with no support. Just you and your banana split. (See what I'm doing here?)
8. Count your blessings. I do this every night before I go to bed and every morning when I am driving to work. Starting and ending the day thankful for the positive aspects of your life really has a way of changing your perspective.
7. Ask for guidance. I do this every day as well. I pray to God. I am not very church-y, but I do believe in God and the power of prayer. But you don't have to believe in any higher power to ask for guidance. Fill your life with solid people who you can trust for their opinions and the kind of people who know when to keep those opinions to themselves.
6. Take pleasure in the small things. A good bowl of macaroni and cheese. Life & Style magazine. Trashy reality shows. Funny texts to friends. A favorite song on the radio. All those small things can add up to one fantastic day. A bunch of fantastic days can lead to quite a fabulous life.
5. Rid yourself of negativity. We've all had that friend/guy/family member that just sucks the life out of you. They bring you down and make you feel small and you think, "I don't have time for this kind of drama." And, then one day you wake up and realize that you literally don't have time for the drama and rid yourself of negative energy. It is very freeing.
4. Be a permanent tourist. After college, I moved to NYC and fell in love with the city. I moved back to Kansas but then got the itch to move again and headed for San Diego. There are moments I think I could pack it all up again and maybe live in Europe for awhile. But no matter where I am, whether I am living there or visiting, I make sure I get to see, eat, drink, and experience as much as I can.
3. Never give up writing. It's been my saving grace, my therapy, my drug of choice.
2. Love more. One of my favorite poems has a line that goes: "If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me." This line is also from an episode of "Felicity" one of the greatest shows of all time. But what it means is that while I want everyone to love me, this is not going to be the case. People can be ugly and cruel and indifferent, but not me, I want to strive to love more no matter what.
1. Order the banana split. Don't worry about splurging. Don't worry about the calories. Don't worry about whether a choice is the best one or not. Be happy with your choice. Stand strong behind it. Understand that there are so many things that will not sway in your favor, but one thing is for certain, you will never go wrong with ordering the banana split.
The commandments are a good plan. The book club makes us accountable for the small changes we are making in our lives to better them. Life will always be imperfect and harder at certain times than others. There will be times when you think it can't get any worse, and then it does! But, you can always make a plan for change. I've had plenty of people say I'm one of the luckiest people they've met because things often fall in my favor. I am lucky and I do not take it for granted. But the majority of those things did not happen to me by chance, I planned them. My life is a happy one because I planned it that way.