Happiness is up to me

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last year thinking about happiness. What makes people — and, in particular, me — happy? What doesn’t? How can we do more of the former and less of the latter? And how does personal happiness affect career and relationship success?

A couple months ago, I read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, in which she tries to tackle these exact questions, in way everyone can relate to. As she documents in the book, Gretchen took a year and identified those behaviors which can impact happiness — which she picks based on a mix of research and personal experience — and tries to increase the frequency of those actions in her life. For her, they were things like organizing the house, singing in the morning, taking more pictures of her kids and doing things she finds fun. It’s a great read and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a new book.

So, for 2014, I’ve decided to embark on my own “happiness project”. I’ve come up with a list of things I think will positively impact my personal happiness, as well as a list of three guiding principles. It’s my goal to work away at this list throughout the year to hopefully keep making a better version of me, which should also improve my job and my relationships with family and friends.

So what are my guiding principles? No matter which project I’m working on, these are the things I’m trying to stick to:

    1. Do it when you think about it.
    2. Smile more.
    3. Act the way you want to feel.

And the projects? I’ll talk about the full list in future posts, but in general they fall into these broad categories:

    • Make fitness and health a habit.
    • Increase work productivity.
    • Have more fun.
    • Get the little things out of the way.
    • Build/strengthen personal connections.
    • Make time for me.
    • Think about others.

I’ve already started learning that not everything on my list is going to be easy to accomplish, but I do think it’s all going to be worth it.

So, here’s to a year of putting happiness in my own hands!

What things do you focus on to improve happiness? What impact does improved happiness have on your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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