My happiness project

August 27, 2013 in Life,Philosophy

After listening to Gretchen Rubin speak at World Domination Summit, I immediately checked her best-seller The Happiness Project out of the library.

Christine Amorose on her 25th Birthday

When searching for what makes you happy, Rubin instructs you to ask yourself what you did for fun when you were 10 years old: I loved reading and riding my bike. No surprise that I still read every night before bed (and whenever I take the subway, and whenever I have a spare moment in the sunshine) and that I ride a bike every day to and from work (and around the Prospect Park loop, and along the West Side Highway). She encourages readers to create their own “happiness project” and while I didn’t come up with a specific plan to inject more happiness in my life, I did enjoy reflecting on the practices that make me happy–particularly since it reminds me to be intentional about doing them, and doing them more often.

Be Christine

A main part of the book is figuring out what makes YOU happy, and not forcing yourself into habits that you think “should” make you happy. I’d rather go to sleep early on a Friday night and run errands on Saturday morning than stay out late and fight a hangover. My favorite T.V. show is Jeopardy, and I will absolutely switch my schedule around to be on the couch at 7 p.m. I’m obsessive about being on time, staying on topic in email chains and sending thank-you notes. I want and need a lot of alone time. It’s being able to accept those personality quirks, and even embrace them: Rubin cheerfully notes that those “weird” things about yourself are often what people love most about you.Β Citi Bike in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Staying active

When I sense myself tense and on edge without an easily-discernable cause, I’ve realized it’s usually because I haven’t worked out in a few days. I grew up playing sports every day; in college, I went to the gym every day in addition to playing lacrosse. No matter how busy I am, I’ve realized that working out MUST be a priority for me: it’s an hour where I leave the phone at home, release all the stress of the day and do something good for myself. I prefer to do yoga or Pilates at least once a week, but even commuting by bike is rewarding.

Meditation most mornings

I had never really meditated before attending a quiet yoga retreat in the Berkshires this February. The first time I sat, I was absolutely miserable for the entire 40 minutes: my legs kept falling asleep, my mind was racing. But the second time was easier (especially since it was guided), and after the third time, I was hooked. Since then, I downloaded Insight Timer app and now I sit for 10 minutes four to five mornings a week. 10 minutes to quiet my mind, take a deep breath, clear my head for the day ahead: honestly, the best addition to my morning routine.

Kindle in the sunshine in Bryant Park, New York City

Reading for pleasure

As a kid, I used to spend my Saturday mornings at the library and my Saturday afternoon reading my borrowed books.Β I easily read three to five books a month: my Brooklyn Library membership is compatible with myΒ Kindle Touch, which is pretty much the most amazing thing EVER for a bibliophile on a budget.

Eight hours of sleep

When I don’t get enough sleep, I simply can’t function. Along with this: I like keeping a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. I wake up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. without an alarm, and I’m now obsessed with “productive Saturdays.” How many errands can I run before noon (laundry, gym, Trader Joe’s before the crowds wake up) so that I can relax and play for the rest of the weekend?

Spa sessions

When it comes to splurges, I always prefer experiences to objects. I’m not one for expensive purses or lots of makeup, but I do regularly treat myself to spa sessions. Nail salons are the hallmark of New York City streets, and I love cheap manicures and pedicures. Occasionally, I treat myself to a nice massage or a facial: the whole experience always leaves me with such a wonderful lasting feeling of calm.

Drinks at Sweetwater Restaurant, Brooklyn

Connecting with my friends

I’m the friend who is constantly making plans: organizing a regular dinner with three girls from college, setting up a book club to double as pesto party with another group from college, constant “California in New York” get-togethers. I get such a kick out of bringing my friends together, and watching them become friends with each other! It’s led to such an incredible network of friends in the city, for which I am SO grateful every day (on that note: gratitude lists. Crazy how much they help create Β and maintain happiness!).

Christine Amorose in Wheel Pose in Iceland

Travel

Of course, travel is still something that brings so much happiness to my life (even if I’m not doing much of it at the moment). My trips to Jordan and Iceland this spring are still the highlights of my year; I thoroughly enjoy every day that I get to experience a new museum, restaurant or neighborhood in New York City. Even though there’s still so much to see and do here, I still daydream about heading back to the history-soaked cobblestone streets of France and Germany and Italy: kind of obsessed with checking out all the possible routes and train/flight/bus combinations on GoEuro. 2014, perhaps?

What are the things that make you happy?

 

  • Christine

    I just recently read that book myself, and the whole “Be Gretchen” thing really resonates with me as well! As I grow older, I love much more I’m learning to appreciate my individuality… So many years are wasted trying to like what everyone else likes, and it’s just not what life’s all about πŸ˜‰ It takes maturity (and a little bit of bravery) to own up to your own quirks – and to fully love them.

    Loved this post, and love your blog! πŸ™‚

  • I NEED to read this book I’ve heard so much about it πŸ™‚ & I loved hearing the things that make you happy, some are quite similar to myself! Great post, as usual! x

  • Zoe Clarke

    Sounds a great book. I will have to read it. I am trying for a simpler life where I do what makes me happy than whats expected of me.

  • Oooh I need to read this book, though I tend to lead a pretty happy life already! Life is too short to do things that make you unhappy.

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    Experiences over objects! I’m definitely with you on that one. Reading is very relaxing to me, even more so than meditation sometimes. Ha. Great post!

  • Amanda @ Adventure Year

    Pretty much every single thing you listed here makes me so happy as well! The only thing that I’m more “eh” about is meditation. I’ve tried, but I’ve never had that moment where it feels right. Perhaps one day! I did read The Happiness Project, but I wasn’t as inspired by it as I had wished. I think I was just asking for too much out of the book. I like a lot of the concepts though!

  • Liz

    I’ve been meaning to read the Happiness Project! I’ve read some of her writings on her blog and I find the concepts really pertinent to our lives. It’s so funny – I agree with you on so many of these things, maybe it’s a blogger thing πŸ™‚ For example, I would so much rather wake up early on a Saturday morning after an early Friday night than fight a hangover the entire next day. Weekends are so much better when you can actually enjoy them. Same with exercise, and people who don’t exercise don’t know what they are missing! Thanks for posting πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Thanks, Christine! Glad you found it πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Thanks Jacquie! Yes, read the book–it’s delightful!

  • camorose

    You’ll love the book then!

  • camorose

    There are some nice tips and reminders, even if you’re already pretty happy! I enjoyed it.

  • camorose

    Thanks!

  • camorose

    Even when I can’t focus completely when I meditate, I find that just sitting for 10 minutes every morning really helps calm me down and set me up for the day!

  • camorose

    Glad you enjoyed the post–definitely check out the book!

  • Megan

    My list looks remarkably similar! You’re great!

  • Briel79

    I really like this post and find it inspiring. I feel like I need to make a list like this for myself of things that make me happy. I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut and lost lately and unsure of what to do next in my life. I need to work on myself.

    I read the Happiness Project and thought it was okay. It didn’t stick with me as much as I hoped but there were some good ideas. Might have to flip through it again.

  • Um, let’s just be best friends. Reading and riding my cruiser? Two favorite pastimes! Early bird? You betcha. Thank you notes? Love ’em! Sleep? Super important. Experiences > material things = definitely! Love this post. It really got me thinking about what makes me happy and how to incorporate those things more in my everyday life. πŸ™‚

  • Guest

    I love the Happiness Project and its message that, happiness is all around, we just have to make it happen! “Should” is a word that should be eliminated from the English vocabulary and a lot of people’s unhappiness stems from the fact that they feel they *should* be doing something because its the done thing, everyone else is doing it etc, so that’s one important lesson I’ve taken from that book. Whilst travelling I always felt guilty that I wasn’t partying it up every week, but from now on I won’t be so hard on myself!

  • Guest

    I love the Happiness Project and its message that, happiness is all around, we just have to make it happen! “Should” is a word that should be eliminated from the English vocabulary and a lot of people’s unhappiness stems from the fact that they feel they *should* be doing something because its the done thing, everyone else is doing it etc, so that’s one important lesson I’ve taken from that book. Whilst travelling I always felt guilty that I wasn’t partying it up every week, but from now on I won’t be so hard on myself!

    p.s. I don’t know what the hell happened to my username!

  • disqus_sgoGZUPpqH

    I love the Happiness Project and its message that, happiness is all around, we just have to make it happen! “Should” is a word that should be eliminated from the English vocabulary and a lot of people’s unhappiness stems from the fact that they feel they *should* be doing something because its the done thing, everyone else is doing it etc, so that’s one important lesson I’ve taken from that book. Whilst travelling I always felt guilty that I wasn’t partying it up every week, but from now on I won’t be so hard on myself!

  • camorose

    Thanks! Kindred happy souls!

  • camorose

    I couldn’t relate to all of the Happiness Project, but I did like her idea of writing down and being conscious of what makes you happy–and then finding a way to hold yourself accountable for those behaviors. Can’t hurt to try it πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Love that!!! πŸ˜€

  • camorose

    That’s a great lesson to take away–thanks for sharing!

  • ksommerkamp

    What a coincidence – I just finished reading the Happiness Project about a week ago and was planning on writing about my own version of it as well πŸ™‚ There are so many things of your list that I can totally relate do. For instance, I love productive saturdays! Thanks for reminding me of how to incorporate the things that make me happy more often into my daily life.

  • Love this post so much, Christine!! I recently picked up The Happiness Project at a bookstore and began to read it. I’m not very far into it yet, but already am realizing things in my life that I could do to just plain be happier. I’m with you on the whole sleep being a necessity thing! Will never understand how some people get by on so little!

  • camorose

    Yay Productive Saturdays! They’re the best πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Seriously–I need eight hours, no ifs and or buts!

  • Desiree

    1. I LOVE “The Happiness Project”, I just recommended that books to a few friends and they’re excited about it too.
    2. OMG we would be awesome friends – this list is basically my list too! I’ve always loved reading, get made fun of for watching “Jeopardy!”, hardly buy stuff unless it’s self-care like a massage, love sleeping and going to the gym, prefer to stay in than go out (massive hangovers have gotten worse as I got older!) and can’t wait for my next travel destination πŸ™‚

    I think you’re my soul mate … ? Haha!

  • camorose

    Haha yes! Always nice to find a kindred spirit πŸ™‚

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  • Essie

    Just stumbled across this – love bike riding and reading. A beautiful account πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

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