Friday, June 22, 2012

The Happiness Project

As I had previously mentioned, I struggled for a long time to have an identity other than "Mom."  For some reason, once our oldest son was born, I just let go of most everything I enjoyed doing and let my child-rearing take center stage.  In hindsight I realize this was a big mistake, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.  He was our first child and I wanted to do everything right.  I read the parenting books and magazines religiously and closely followed my birth board on Baby Center.  It just seemed natural that my life was consumed by this beautiful little boy we had brought into this world until my eyes opened one day and I realized that I had lost myself.  My husband would often ask me, "What do you like to do?"  I really had no answer other than being a mom.  

One hobby that I enjoyed before baby was reading.  I loved to pick up a good mystery or romance and read it front to back in a few days.  I decided that I would like to pick that back up again.  Over the course of the past four years I have read many books, though my tastes have evolved.  Don't get me wrong, I still love "mindless reading" as I call it, but I have also dabbled in the non-fiction world as well.  I usually choose some inspirational or thought-provoking book and try to apply it to my life. Now the majority of the books I check out from our local library are from this genre.

Earlier this year I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I enjoyed it and it made me think about my own happiness.  Wait, you might think, your own happiness?  Up until that point it was something that I never really gave much thought to.  I was always going out of my way to make others happy, especially my kids, but I didn't really do much for myself.  This book opened my eyes a bit and I began my own version of a "happiness project."  It was not a very in-depth project.  I bought a journal with three sections and created areas I'd like to work on:  health, personal, and financial.  Each month I would create three goals in each of those areas and track my progress weekly.  I would challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone a bit, but I found that once I completed my goals I was indeed happier.

This went well for a few months and then the big move came into the picture.  I had to put my project on hold, as I was too busy looking for a new home and packing up our belongings.  Now that we are beginning to settle in, I resumed my project in the beginning of June.  I am finding that it is helpful to set those personal goals and it still brings great joy when I accomplish what I set out to do.  While it is still a work in progress, I am making an effort to bring some balance back into my life and this seemed like a great way to focus and track my progress.  

I would encourage you all to set some goals each month and work to meet them.  My goals are all over the place from trying a new exercise class to using reusable bags instead of the plastic bags at the store.  They are by no means crazy, but they are little things that make a difference to me.  The beauty of this project is that each person's is unique.  It makes you think about the little things and what you could change to bring more happiness into your life.  You know how the saying goes, "Happy Wife, Happy Life."  Go ahead, give it a shot!  

It's the little things in life


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