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Archive for January, 2011

Today is the last day of the first month of my Happiness Project for 2011.

To recap, I chose to focus on Mental Energy. My resolutions for the month were to:

  • Clean my closet
  • Toss, restore, organize
  • Follow the one-minute rule
  • Observe the evening tidy-up
  • Make my bed
  • Tackle nagging tasks

Clean my Closet

Wow, what a BIG project this was! As much as I kept telling myself to get rid of everything that I no longer wore, I still found myself trying to make excuses. Eventually I gave away a small bag of clothes to my sister and my mom, another bag to my “little sister” and have packed away two very full garbage bags to donate to Goodwill. I didn’t quite meet my goal of eliminating 50% of my clothes but I did manage to get rid of 117 articles of clothing. I am hoping that all the clothes that remain are things that I will wear and do fit but in case I’m wrong, I have decided to routinely assess my remaining clothes and promptly get rid of anything that I am still not wearing (I’ve already gotten rid of another shirt that was in my “keep” pile that is getting a little too small).

As part of my “clean my closet” project, I also threw out all my old holey socks. I cannot even express the joy I feel each day opening my sock drawer knowing that every single pair of socks in there are nice and new! 🙂 Who would have thought one could find so much happiness in a sock drawer!

Toss, Restore, Organize

I was a bit of a slacker with this one but still managed to push through at the very end with 5 days of “Clutter Boot Camp”.  I cleaned my desk early on, which was so so nice! I can actually see the wood now and have consistently kept it clear since that first trusty weekend. Not only do I enjoy sitting at the desk now, but I can actually find the things I need…like the bills I put on the desk that need to be paid (I used to occasionally “misplace” and consequently forget to pay these in the past once they were mixed with all the other scrap paper on the desk).

Included in my last minute boot camp cleanup were the bathroom cupboards and counter, the linen closet and the junk bin. All of these were relatively easy to clean once I took the time to sit down and actually do it. The problem will lie in keeping them clean as these areas all suffer from the same ailment:  “Too much stuff in too small of a space.”  For the bathroom, I threw out a ton of bottles of lotion, hair products and shower gels that I don’t ever seem to get around to using. I’m hoping with less stuff spread out all over, I will be able to maintain organization of the remaining items. If I find that it continues to get messy, I have decided to purchase one of those wooden cupboard things that go over the toilet for some extra space. For the “junk” bin, I purchased three of those stackable letter trays from an office store.  I have labeled each tray to organize things so it will be easier to go through it once a month and file away and throw out the extra stuff. One tray is labeled “Upcoming stuff” for anything that needs attention (invitations, sticker renewal, paperwork that needs responding too etc). Another tray is labeled “Filing” for any important documents that need to be kept (tax stuff, insurance info) and the third tray is for “Receipts” and anything else that I need to only hold onto temporarily and can be thrown out at the end of the month.

Follow the One Minute Rule/Observe the Evening Tidy-up

I’ve got to say that these two rules have made a big difference in my happiness level. I may not be happy at the time while doing the little tasks (since in the past I would just ignore them) but not having to do a massive task/cleanup every couple days is a huge relief. As Gretchen often says “A stitch in time saves nine“. Previous to this resolution I would do silly things like place empty water bottles on the counter next to the sink and after a couple days, when no more bottles were available and the counter was nice and messy, I’d have to take a few minutes filling them all up. But by filling each bottle immediately (one-minute rule) I now have a clean counter and cold water ready whenever I need it.

Make My Bed

This was much harder than I anticipated and a lot less gratifying than I thought. It was difficult to stick to only because I often just forgot to do it. My husband gets up after me in the morning so I can’t make it as soon as I get up. I also don’t go back into the bedroom again until bedtime so I don’t see it. So between brushing my teeth and getting dressed each morning, I have to remind myself to specifically go in there just to make the bed. I also assumed that a nicely made bed would be so pretty and really complete the room but it really didn’t make a big difference to me. I think that if I had a nice patterned comforter it would be worth it but with my plain boring beige one, it really doesn’t do a whole lot for the room.

The one big up-side to making the bed each day – no more twisted sheets to straighten when I drag my sorry sleepy butt to bed after half falling asleep on the couch! It is a whole lot easier to keep it straight on a daily basis, in the morning when I’m alert, then trying to fight a weeks worth of tangles when I’d rather be under the covers sleeping.

Tackle Nagging Tasks

I was very successful in this department and very, very happy as a result of sticking to it!!! I managed to tackle every single one of my nagging tasks! Of course new tasks would present themselves almost everyday and would just get added to the list but I stuck with it and narrowed down the list a little bit each day. One of Gretchen’s ‘Secrets of Adulthood‘ states “By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.” I couldn’t agree more.

So, the big question is, am I happier as a result of my January resolutions? Why yes, I do believe I am! 😀

Bring on the next month!!!

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My friend Cara is a fantastic photographer. She has this magical way of capturing the pure beauty in each object, whether it’s a small flower, an enormous elephant or a rusty old bridge. Her photo’s always make me smile so I thought I’d start sharing some of her images in my blog. Enjoy!

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Quote of the Week

“The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.” ~ Robert Brault

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In one of Gretchen Rubin’s blog posts, she mentions Daniel Gilbert’s new book, Stumbling on Happiness. She summarizes the parts she found most interesting…

“Gilbert’s main argument is that we aren’t very good at predicting what will make us happy in the future. This matters, because if we want to take steps in the present that will contribute to our future happiness, we need to be able to anticipate what, in fact, will make us happy”

I am fascinated by this idea and I completely agree. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my job and the happiness that it brings (or doesn’t bring) to my life.

I’m a hard worker and was recently told by a corporate manager that I have potential and should be training for a higher position. A meeting was scheduled with my boss to discuss what new things I should be learning in preparation for a possible future management-type position. I was very excited at first, thinking of the respect, money and power I’d have if I got this new job. I’d finally be a “somebody”. I started fantasizing about all the beautiful stylish office clothes I could wear instead of my dirty work clothes. I pushed for more work and more training, thinking that this new job was what I wanted. But as I started getting more “management” work handed to me, I realized that I didn’t enjoy doing it. I procrastinated, putting it off for as long as I could, only looking at it when/if my “real” job duties were complete.

I finally realized one day that I was crazy for wanting this new job! I was only thinking about all the cool things this new job would offer; I never thought about all the great stuff I’d be giving up in my old job. Sure I’d get to give up my dirty work clothes for trendy office attire but that also means I’d be giving up all my time outdoors (which I love) for a desk job. Yes, I’d get more money and more power, but I’d miss out on doing real hands-on work and I would just be another part of the corporate world weighed down by meetings and paperwork. Okay, so I’ll probably never be a “somebody” but I realize now that I’m perfectly ok with being a “nobody”. I like going home at the end of the day and not worrying about work. I like not having the responsibilities and the stress that comes with a manager job.

I realize now that when the corporate manager said I was “enthusiastic” and “knowledgeable” it was only because I love the work that I do! One should not assume that I would be just as enthusiastic or knowledgeable in a new position. The fact of the matter is, I don’t like the work so I procrastinate, do a poor job and am certainly not very enthusiastic. It is far better for me to stay in my “nobody” job, wear my dirty work clothes, get outside and enjoy the work I do!

I am very fortunate that I realized this before I took on the new job. It just goes to show that we aren’t always good at predicting what will make us happy in the future. So I must warn you, be careful what you wish for…you might just get it. 😉

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I truly believe that kindness can change the world.

Have you ever had someone do something kind for you? Doesn’t it make you feel great? Afterwards, you are more likely to do something kind for another person, they in turn might do something nice for someone else and the cycle begins. To you it might be something small, like complimenting someone who’s having a bag day, but who knows just how far that simple act of kindness will go… With that in mind, I encourage you to practice random acts of kindness.

To help get you started, I will start listing possible acts of kindness that you can do to brighten someone else’s day. 🙂

 Kindness to Others

  • Leave a bouquet of flowers on a stranger’s front step.
  • Buy coffee for the person standing behind you in line.
  • Slip $20 (or whatever you can afford) to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
  • Leave enough money in the vending machine for the next person to get a free treat.
  • Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  • Write something nice about your waitperson on the back of the bill.
  • Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
  • Do an art project and leave it around town.
  • Give a thank-you card to a bus driver who is driving off-peak hours, personally thank the janitor who keeps your campus/office clean, tell a police officer that you appreciate his work for the community, send flowers to a local teacher who has dedicated her life to children.
  • Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
  • Collect goods for a food bank.
  • Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents.
  • Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
  • Give blood.
  • Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.

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I first saw The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha a couple of months ago. Its name and brightly coloured cover instantly caught my attention but for some reason I didn’t buy it. I saw it again at another book store, and again at a third store, my mom even called and asked me “Have you seen The Book of Awesome? I think you’d really like it.” I received a ton of gift certificates to the book store for Christmas and yet I still held back on ordering the book, instead choosing such books and ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘The Art of Happiness’. Then one day, while browsing the internet, I came across a link to a presentation by Neil Pasricha called “The 3 A’s of Awesome”. I instantly fell in love with him! As soon as I finished watching his presentation, I ordered the book and could barely stand the two day wait until it finally arrived at my door. I immediately dug in and could not believe how quickly it put a smile on my face. Not only does Neil show you how to appreciate the little things in life but he does it in such an amazing, entertaining way. He truly is a hilarious writer and knows just how to get you smiling! My only question now is, do I read the book all at once and overdose on awesomeness, or do I read a little each day to spread it out? Either way, I’m positive this book is going to make me very happy!

 AWESOME!

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