Goals, Resolutions and Happiness

happiness project

It’s the time of the year when we tend to think about goals and resolutions.  Like many people, I have often set New Year’s resolutions only to quickly find than I am not meeting them. Just today I heard a statistic that only 20 percent of people are meeting their health goals even as early as February. Did you know that only about 10 percent of New Year’s resolutions are fully kept?  I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the 10 percent, not the 90 percent. 

I have thought a lot about goals and resolutions over the past year thanks to the work of Gretchen Rubin whose book, The Happiness Project, I read several years ago.  Rubin felt that, while she had a good life, it could be happier.  So she did research into historical ideas on happiness as well as current scientific research and designed her own year-long happiness experiment.  This experiment became the book The Happiness Project, which just came out with a 10thanniversary edition. I re-read this book in December and also re-read Rubin’s follow-up book Happier at Home.  Both of these books are as much memoirs as self-help books.

My Happiness Project

This year I have decided to start my own happiness project instead of making traditional resolutions.  I have goals in seven different areas as well as a word which will be my theme for the year. My word for 2019 is WRITE.  I plan to write every day if possible. I hope to publish more frequently on my blog, and will include updates on how my happiness project is progressing.

One of My Happiness Project Resolutions

My lifelong love of reading led me to set a group of resolutions in that area.  I read for fun all of the time as I grew up, but as an adult I read on a much more sporadic basis.  There were several reasons for this.  One was that I got busy as I worked full-time and had children.  I re-discovered the pleasure of reading novels when I homeschooled my daughter for high school.  I read the books that she was reading including many classics that I never originally read.  

Recently I have been reading several memoirs and have found them a great way to learn about different people and their lives.  The latest memoir that I read was Educated by Tara Westover.  Westover was raised by her fundamentalist, survivalist Mormon family in rural Idaho. This is a fascinating look into the life of a person so sheltered by her ultra-controlling father, that she did not know about the Holocaust until she defied her family and went to college.  Her father clearly had mental issues that Tara was not aware of until later.  I highly recommend this book.  

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance was another memoir that I found fascinating.  This book was also a New York Times best-seller.  Vance describes his background growing up poor in rural Kentucky and Ohio.  Vance, like Westover, rose out of his impoverished background to become well educated and an author.  Vance’s book also gives some explanation as to why Donald Trump was successful in areas that had previously been largely Democratic.  

 Another memoir I read and enjoyed is In Memory of Bread  by Paul Graham.  I could relate to this book because of Graham’s recounting of his diagnosis with celiac disease.  He had to give up many foods which he loved to eat in order to regain his health, as I have had to do.  On the other hand, Eat Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was a book that I could not relate to, but was a fascinating travel and personal discovery memoir.  Each of these books, as well as a few novels that I read, reminded me that reading is one of my happiness boosters.  

How to Start Your Own Happiness Project

If you would also like to start your own happiness project Gretchen’s Rubin’s ideas for how she developed hers may be of help to you.  These are listed below.  

  1. What makes you feel good?  Add those things, especially if they have been missing in your life.  
  2. What makes you feel bad?  Identify and eliminate those sources of anger, anxiety, irritation, or frustration in your life. 
  3. Is there any way that you don’t feel right about your life?  Is there anything you wish you could change about your job or family situation? Does your life reflect your values?  
  4. Have an atmosphere of growth in your life.  Learn new things, increase mastery in some area or make progress in some area.  

I wrote about how to better meet resolutions in last year’s February issue of Bella Magazine.  If healthier eating is part of your plan for 2019, check the update of this article out for tips to help you.    

Have you made any resolutions or goals for 2019? Let me know what they are and any tips you have for meeting them.

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