Working at Happiness

happinessAfter turning down my recent job offer and deciding that I need to make my happiness, or rather, the discovery of what really makes me happy, my priority, I’ve found quite a few stumbling blocks on my way.  Naturally, at first I was quite energized. I bought myself a copy of “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, which I’m almost embarrassed to share. After all, do I really need a book to guide me through what makes me happy?  Apparently.  And I’m not alone. It was a New York Times bestseller after all.  And I read it completely through. And since the book is no longer new, the author has since taken down her online tool website, so I’ll have to find my way on my own.  Which really, I needed to do anyway.

I’ve been thinking about the things that make me  happy. Sometimes I’ve been thinking about the things that make me unhappy, or “blah”. The “blahs” are the corrosive agent on happiness for me.  I mean, when I’m really unhappy, which isn’t often, I’m usually mad or seriously boo-hoo unhappy. Or PMS unhappy. Those, kinds of unhappy are pretty easy to identify the root causes.  I am truly thankful that I’m not an unhappy person.  I’m not depressed. I have many great things happening in my life.

But I am a stay at home mother. And that’s just not a very exciting life, truth be told.  My best days are when I’m super busy.  My worst days are when I’m isolated, when I haven’t had any kind of face-to-face interaction with another adult;  on some days, not even a phone call with another.  Those are the days, when I meet another parent outside school at the end of the day and they ask, “what’s new?” and I have nothing to say. I feel blah and boring and dull.  So, I’ve started there.

Here are a few things I have come up with so far:

– See people every day. Actively work to make a connection with others.

– Do small gestures to let people know you are thinking of them (acts of kindness)

– Be more accessible to friends and be more open to attending outings with others

– Work twice a week as substitute teacher

– Create a group of my own to meet regularly

 

I’ve been feeling pretty good about this.  I asked a friend if she would like to work on the happiness project with me. She said yes. She’s catching up on the book now.  I have yet to set a date/time to meet, but that I identified someone to start meeting with and asked her is a start.  We will look for another to join us.  I don’t want to lose momentum.

I called, well…texted, a friend to go to breakfast last week. We went.  It was good to just step outside of my painfully shy self and be the one to initiate that, rather than just wait and wait for one of my friends to organize coffee/breakfast.  That friend also gave me a ride home as my car was in the shop.  She asked me to feed her fish while she was away and I of course said yes.  Well, I totally forgot. I feel terrible.  The fish lived, but honestly, I feel so bad about myself.  It was a human mistake, but as my 11-year old artfully pointed out, “you broke her trust, Mom”. Ouch!  This small gestures thing is hard!

My cell phone stopped working this week. It’s been on the fritz for awhile.  Yesterday, I had planned to be home in the morning so I could wait to hear from my sister who was getting her medical test results back from a series of MRIs, ultrasounds, and blood tests. She was terribly anxious and I wanted to be here for her.  My cell phone just quit. I had a land line, but after several hours, I had things to get done. So I left. I missed her call. Twice.  And then when she called, I was having lunch with my husband, so I couldn’t talk long.  So, on the one hand, I was having lunch with my husband, which met my goal of making contact, but I was so not the sister I wanted to be.  I did get a new phone.

And about the phone. Despite the fact that I spent 30 minutes on the phone with Verizon about 3 months ago because my backup assistant wasn’t working and I lost all my contacts, after I purchased the new phone, I learned that AGAIN my backup assistant was not working and I’ve lost all my contacts.  So, it is now harder to reach out and text someone or call them.

In fact, I want to see if anyone wants to go XC skiing this morning, and I don’t have the text numbers to make that call.

A month ago, a friend moved into my neighborhood and I’ve been meaning to make something and bring it over as a welcome gesture. Then I got the flu and I was out for two weeks.  So Wednesday I had decided was the day. All the things I thought I might make required eggs, of which, turns out I had no more.  So I found a recipe for scones that I had never tried so I made them. Along the way, I discovered I was missing the walnuts for the Maple Walnut Scones recipe, but I proceded anyway.  I tried one when they were finished and decided they were tasteless so I did not give them away.  My family, however, devoured them and wanted more.  Harumph. Maybe I could have given them away after all!  Had I done that, I’d be feeling happier that I had reached out to a friend.  Now, I’m feeling like I should bake again. And I’m not feeling very happy about it.  I’m unhappy with myself.

AHA! That is a huge source of my unhappiness. Disappointing myself makes me unhappy.

I will have to think on that one.  It feels heavy.

With that, I will bake some scones, and trudge through the snow to drop them off and that should make me happy!

 

 

 

 

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Pig-Headed Do-Gooder Sports

“You are the volunteer of last resort” my husband chided me this weekend. I’m just not sure how to take that!?  The truth is, I am reliable and I commit cautiously, but fully.  Those qualities make me a perfect glutton for punishment. And in the world of parent-volunteerism, there’s plenty of punishment to be had.

What makes matters worse, however, is that I have two other qualities that delude me in my volunteerism: “do-gooder” and “pig-headed”.  Those are the more common names for my qualities. I tend to refer to them as my lofty-dreamy-isms and my love of the sport of running-down-the-slim-odd.

So altogether, you have a girl who believes she can make the world better, is not deterred by the odds, and who will do the dirty work, even if no one else will.  Seriously, I am a cause’s wet-dream! Continue reading