Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness Project - Week 3 - What Can You Change?

Last week I asked you to make your happy/unhappy lists.  What makes you happy, gives you joy, energizes you?  What makes you unhappy - angry, stressed, or resentful?

Gretchen Rubin and her book The Happiness Project points out that embarking on a "happiness project" will inevitably lead you through some unhappy moments.  And that one of the most important "things" you can do after you make these lists is to figure out what can be changed and what can't. 

You can't change other people.  Period. 

That's not wisdom from me - pretty much any self-help (emphasis on self) book you read stresses this notion over and over.  Your happiness project's success depends on the ability to recognize that the only person you can try to change is . . . Y-O-U.

For example, last week I said in my unhappy list that one of the things I find vexing is Husband's night-owl circadian rhythms and my early bird ones.  I am more alert in the morning and he is more alert at night.  He stays up late, I get up early.

And I could spend an entire year trying to convince him of the importance of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier (like me), but if I did, I would certainly make both of us unhappy.   So I decided I can't try to change that.  We are who we are.  As Gretchen says throughout her book, I need to Be Missy (except she says Be Gretchen  :) - of course).  So instead of banging my head against a wall wishing I could stay up later or Husband could wake up earlier, I needed to find a different solution. 

Typically, I only notice our differing sleep needs on the weekends - the rest of the week is filled with school and work schedules.  So yesterday I said to him, "You know, I've been thinking."  Always ominous. 

H- Hmmmmmm?

Me - I'm thinking that I won't get so annoyed with the pre-church rush if you wouldn't mind taking Youngest out somewhere after church, while Oldest's at Sunday School (learning about the 6th Commandment).  Then if you pick up Oldest too, I would have 90 minutes of a quiet house to help prepare for the week. 

Holding my breath.  Holding my breath.  Holding my breath.

H - That sounds good.  I love getting the time with the girls.  I'll plan my work schedule around it (the man works 7 days a week from now until April). 

Wow.  All I had to do was ask.  Say it with me - all I had to do was ask.  Sometimes you (ok, me) can fix something pretty easily without trying to change the person you love.  You just have to ask

Another Unhappy Realization

I haven't solved this next one yet, though.  One of my "happys" is watching TV.  Another happy is accomplishing things.  Guess what?  Those two "things" are mutually exclusive.  I can watch TV and veg a little, which gives me short term happiness, certainly.  But the next day, I'm stressed, angry and short with the kids because my "to do" list hasn't shrunk and all I can do is think about it. 

As an aside, I just read yesterday in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families that the average person spends 80-90 hours in front of a "screen" each WEEK!  Wha?  I did a quick calculation.  I'm at around 42 hours per week, TV and computer combined.  And I don't say this to say "whoo-hoo, looky at me," I say it to point out that there's not much more I can shave off of my "screen time," right?

The problem is the DVR and my ability to tape multiple shows throughout the week, creating a backlog of "must see TV."  Sometimes modern technology doesn't simplify your life as much as you think it will.

So it looks like I need to prioritze some shows, because I can't watch them all and stay true to my love of "accomplishment."  DVR is not my friend.  And I'm sad, because I like so many and I don't know how to leave some of them by the side of the road. 

Gretchen talks about this dichotomy quite a bit as well.  "Sometimes something that makes you happy in the short term will make you unhappy in the long term." 

Like all those dessert-y treats I ate in December and am now having to work off like a madwoman.  Or now, having to ration my TV watching to be productive. 

So I'll work on "the plan" for TV balance.  And here is this week's plan for you: 

Decide what you can change from your happy/unhappy lists and make another list called - the things I can change.  It is from that list that you can start your resolutions for each month.  Good luck! 

Anyone want to share something from their happy/unhappy list?  I can tell you something that goes on both of mine!  Puppies.  But that's a story for another day. 
Copyright Notice: © 2010 Gifts 2 Love | All content — including, but not limited to, the "Super Sunday Series" — are the sole property of this blog's author. | Refer to Creative Commons License below for reproduction allowances. All Rights Reserved. | Contact me at msbed[at] for article writing, advertising opportunities and/or promotion requests. | Licensing Notice: Creative Commons License | This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution | Non-Commercial | Share Alike 3.0 United States License.