➶ Following My Own Arrow ➶

If You Can’t Find Something… CLEAN UP.

Throughout this year (and hopefully beyond), I want to share some things I might discover along the way… email subscriptions, articles, blogs, books (regular and audio), quotes, songs (oh, so many songs!). Some things I come across just really resonate with me. 

Top of my book list, is last year’s find “The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin“*. I started with the paperback (thanks to my Beachbody coach, Mandy), then bought the audio book (I highly recommend having Gretchin read this one TO you), and lastly bought the kindle version to sync with the audio.  Overkill. What I find interesting, is that while this book was brought to my attention in 2017, it was originally published in 2009, and is just as relevent today. For me, even more so. I can safely say that if someone told me to read this book in 2009 I would have rolled my eyes and said “I’m plenty happy, I don’t need a book to tell me how to be.” I will be the first to say that it would not have had the profound influence at that point in my life. Not to say it couldn’t for someone else in their twenties.

“Plenty happy.” I could still say that about my life now. Even VERY happy. But as Gretchin had to stress over and over, that’s not the point.  I want to be happier with and about myself, and that’s something that, I believe, is a constant “project”. EVERY chapter of this book resonated with me in some way. And sometimes encouraged an out loud “YES!”

“I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change
unless I made it change.”  -Gretchin Rubin, The Happiness Project

While this site’s tagline is “A Happiness Project”, I’ll admit that I didn’t prepare even half of a percent as explained in the book. I didn’t make specific resolutions (no-no #1), I didn’t create any Commandments or Secrets of Adulthood.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and let’s see how it happens.  After all, everyone’s happiness project is always going to be different, but “it’s the rare person who can’t benefit from a happiness project”.*

The book’s chapters are broken down by months… so, let’s read together and discuss, shall we?!

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JANUARY
Resolution: Boost Energy
Vitality: Go to Sleep Earlier, Exercise Better, Toss-Restore-Organize, Tackle a Nagging Task, Act More Energetic.

Lord knows we go to sleep plenty early. I think my husband and I turned into senior citizens when we moved into this house. We’re usually moving upstairs by 8:30/9:00. And honestly, if we don’t, Reagan tells us it’s time. Emphatically. We watch a couple FRIENDS episodes and then Mike has usually fallen asleep. What I can resolve to do is actually go to SLEEP. Because it’s a rare night I’m not up playing on my phone ’til 11pm and/or falling asleep to Criminal Minds.  I rarely stay awake long once I put the phone down, but I know that the external light at night can mess with my quality of sleep. I’ll try… maybe, and get back to you. 😉 

“Exercise? Oh, I thought you said Accessorize”
It’s funny (sad), but only cause it’s true. Exercise is my nemesis, truly.  I HATE to work out. I just used to force myself more successfully. I’ve joined a gym (since cancelled), bought DVDs, signed up for Beachbody On Demand, joined Beachbody a group for motivation. I start, have one bad day, and instead of just jumping back in it, I quit. There ARE no (worthwhile) excuses here. I know that I need to exercise for all around good health, to support a healthy pregnancy if/when that day comes. But more than that, when I DO actually get myself going – I have a MUCH better day. I can’t seem to think why I can’t continue. But, please – someone – drag me outta bed in the morning and beat me with an energy stick!

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
-Gretchin Rubin, The Happiness Project

On a more positive note, a little over a year ago I jumped on the FitBit bandwagon, and actually still wear it faithfully. And this coming from a girl who could never remember her watch. I have noticed an increase of steps/movement, especially in the beginning. But, I will tell you – working from home does not do me any favors in this department (not that’s I’m complaining, mind you!). It’s almost EASY to hit 10,000 (the # of steps of a healthy lifestyle), but there are definitely days of the week I barely hit 4,000. BUT – having the FitBit definitely makes me more aware of that and I strive to not have 2 of those types of days in a row. So, if you’ve been thinking about it – I recommend biting the FitBit bullet. 

TOSS, RESTORE, ORGANIZE.
I’m not gonna lie, this part of the chapter made me giddy. I am a Type-A, neurotic, organizer.  Vacations, schedules, closets… you name it. So, having this here made me feel a little more normal (though my husband would probably argue this conclusion 😉.

I can’t STAND an unorganized house. Clutter drives me INSANE. I hate that my kitchen isn’t big enough to keep everything off the counters. I hate that my garage is full of thing we keep just to keep (I’m guilty too, but my husband is FAR worse than me here). Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT the cleanest person in the world. And despite what my husband thinks, I don’t NOT like to clean. I just like it TO BE clean… there’s a very big difference. You do what needs to be done (EVERYWHERE in life), am I right?!.

I have extra of everything from tubes of toothpaste to cotton pads and garbage bags to jars of pickles (can’t run out of those!). I organize my pantry by food type, and it almost stays that way (at least until the next grocery run). In this house, there is usually a place for everything. It’s whether it makes it there or not is the problem.

I hate to dust and load the dishwasher. And don’t even talk about actually hand washing dishes. Luckily my husband is good about the dishes most mornings. I am guilty of dropping stuff in a “dump zone” from time to time (i.e. our kitchen peninsula) and I’m even more guilty of clearing off said places and losing important pieces.

Case in point, my W-2 came so early this year (yay!). I put it in a really safe place. Totally not where anyone would find it. Including me. So, when I re-read “January” for this blog post I felt like Gretchin was speaking directly to me:

“It’s a Secret of Adulthood. If you can’t find something, clean up.”*

I looked around the piles on the desk of my home office, where I spend most of my waking hours. HAD to be here. So I cleared, dusted (ugh), filed, and FOUND. Thank you Gretchin. Plus, my office looks really pretty now too. 🙂

A last point from January’s chapter that has really helped me is the “1-Minute Rule”.  This states that you ‘don’t postpone any task that could be done in less than one minute’. I LOVE this one because I am always guilty of seeing something out that “won’t take long” but that’s my excuse to wait until morning. Or wait until I get home from errands, etc. Since reading this book last year I have tried to stick to doing things right away and it really has made a difference in my overall mood. Besides, if it was done the moment I thought of it, it’s more likely to get done… at least for me. If you take one this out of this blog post to try… do this one. It’s so simple, and actually, a little addicting.

In closing, January’s chapter was enlightening.

Thanks to Gretchin for admitting about herself what I didn’t even realize as a flaw. I CRAVE, I NEED, that “Gold Star”. Someone to notice, appreciate and comment on how awesome the pantry looks. Or that it’s actually pretty nice that we never run out of stuff.  And that all of the above doesn’t “just happen”. And even though I might not ever get that unsolicited around here, I’m not alone in the thought that these things do lead to my overall happiness, so maybe I can just give myself the gold star.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m not that weird for going thru my closets 4 times a year (every season, baby!). Or, maybe it’s OK that I have 10 back-up packages of cotton pads.

But also, seriously Dana, get off your butt and exercise.

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* Citation (APA): Rubin, G. (2015). The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun [Kindle Version]. 

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