I detoured slightly with November’s Happiness Project goals, as I knew that my month was going to be too busy to keep up with what Gretchen Rubin had done during month eight. So I jumped ahead slightly and completed Rubin’s November goals instead (which was perfect given that it was actually November!)
I found these goals really easy to do and I think most of them are things that I do regularly anyway.
The first of my goals was to laugh out loud. This one was super easy for me, I love to laugh and I try to laugh every day – even when I’m feeling really grumpy! The kids are always watching YouTube and are regularly watching funny videos, so I made time to sit and watch some with them. They were hilarious and soon we were all in stitches, the room was filled with the sound of laughter and it felt good. I often surprise myself when I reflect on my day as I climb into bed and realise that there has been more laughter than I remembered. The days that feel long and drawn out are really not that bad and are generally filled with much more laughter than I think. Looking back on that laughter helps to reduce the stress of the day and allow me to relax in the knowledge that it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
Goal no. 2 was as equally easy for me – use good manners. Ugh. I hate bad manners! It takes nothing to say please and thank you, or to hold a door open for the person behind you. I am a big fan of good manners, I try to be polite as much as I can and it is something I try to impress on my children as much as possible. Having good manners makes me happy as I feel that people think better of me for it. As somebody who suffers badly from anxiety, I worry far too much about what others think of me, so to know that I have good manners and people might think I’m polite makes me feel happy.
The third goal was to give positive reviews. I can be a bit of a negative person at times, it’s far easier to moan about my bad day than it is to say ‘I had a great day!’ and this is something I wanted to work on. During November we did various things, both as a family and as a couple, and I wanted to make sure I was positive about them. Mark and I attended a cookery course and despite not feeling well by the end of it, I had a really good time and I made sure to tell him that. We had gone with several family members and it was good fun, so much so that we have bought tickets to do another one together. One Saturday we went to visit my brother and his girlfriend, we walked the dogs together, enjoyed some lunch and then helped them with some jobs in their house. It was a lovely, laid back day and I enjoyed every minute of it. When I was telling a friend about my weekend I made sure to say what a lovely day I had had, rather than focusing on any negative things that had happened. I hadn’t realised how much these little acts affected my mood and therefore my happiness. By acknowledging the positivity I felt about these things, I instantly raised my happiness levels – it’s much nicer to look back on events fondly than with a dark cloud above them.
My last goal for the month was to find an area of refuge. In her book, Rubin describes this as a happy thought or thoughts that she thinks of to help lift her spirits. I have a whole stash of those thoughts – they often involve our many trips to Disney World – but I needed to find an actual place of refuge. Living in the renovation and having the extension built means that there is a lot of chaos within the house and this is something that I struggle to cope with. The dining room is full of boxes, as is the den, so it’s hard to find somewhere to relax. One afternoon after work I had finished cleaning the bathrooms and had some time to kill before cooking dinner, I could have done something productive with my time, such as wrap some Christmas gifts or vacuum the lounge, but I decided to have some wind down time. I curled up on my side of the bed with a cup of tea, pulled my blanket up and indulged myself with an episode of Gilmore Girls and I loved every minute of it! I realised that this was my area of refuge. Having an area of refuge is a necessity for my happiness. just having an hour to myself to watch one of my favourite programmes, all cosy and warm made me feel so happy and content.