Monday, January 9, 2012

Spirituality Night: The Happiness Project

I led spirituality night last week, and in the spirit of the new year, focused on positive changes to make in our lives. As part of my 50 books I read last year, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was inspired by her book to begin my own happiness project, by focusing on what makes me happy. I decided to share a lot of what I learned from the book with my community.

The idea behind the happiness project is to approach happiness as a journey instead of a goal. Change habits so that you can focus on being happy. In our society, success is measured by wealth and not happiness. Happiness is viewed as a luxury that we can only afford if we purchase it. With that mindset, we will never find happiness, because it involves trying to get to a certain point of, "oh, if XYZ happens, THEN I'll be happy." But why wait? Happiness is available to all of us now if we look at things differently.

After first explaining what the Happiness Project was, I read some of the commandments/tips/"secrets of adulthood" for happiness from the book that I thought were useful.

A sampling:
One minute rule: If you can do it in a minute, get it done
Let it go
Just because someone else enjoys something doesn't mean you will, and vice versa
Sing in the morning
Spend ten minutes before you go to bed cleaning
The days are long but the years are short
It's okay to ask for help
Be nice
Always say 'thank you'
You can choose what you do, you can't choose what you LIKE to do
You can do ANYTHING you want, but you can't do EVERYTHING you want
If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough
Don't keep score
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make others happy; one of the best ways to make others happy is to be happy yourself
Enjoy the process
Act the way you want to feel

The best resolutions take vague statements like "I want to be a better friend" or "I want to exercise more" or "I want to meet new people," and turn them into concrete goals, like "I will call a friend at least once a week" and "I am going to go to the gym every day" and "I am going to join an organization so I meet people with similar interests."

I then invited my community to reflect on their own about what their own mini happiness project would look like/their own resolutions for 2012. I also wanted everyone to think about happiness and its connection to spirituality (this was spirituality night after all...), and also how they might want to explore their spirituality in the coming year. We journaled for a little while and then came back together for a short discussion. I had everyone share at least one "resolution," because we need to hold each other accountable. I wrapped up with this quote:

Happiness is the spiritual experience of love, grace and gratitude.

For more on the Happiness Project, visit Gretchen Rubin's website.

Soundtrack to the evening:
Surely We Can Change-David Crowder Band
Better Get to Livin'-Dolly Parton
I Was Here-Beyoncé
Be Happy-Mary Mary
Come Awake-David Crowder Band
Let Go-Frou Frou
Shining Like the Sun-Kate Campbell
It's A New

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