The days are long, but the years are short” -Third Splendid Truth, ‘The Happiness Project’
It’s not every day a person turns 60. Some never make it at all. So I am grateful for every fleeting year. After posting recently on the topic of grief, it seems completely appropriate to write about Happiness. They are two sides of the same coin. Seeing this milestone heading for me at warp speed, I’ve been taking stock, and as part of that process thought I’d examine the idea of happiness. A few weeks ago, the planets aligned and the time was right to read ‘The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve been intending to read it for years, but you know, timing is everything.
While reading THP two things stood out for me. Happiness, or rather ‘being happy’, is a verb, an active choice, more than it is a noun and permanent place to reside; and the second thing was: my entire life has been a happiness project!! That is a big statement, I know, but it was a great discovery and well worth reading the book to find out!
As I read THP I found myself thinking back to things I have done in my 60 years. But even more important than what I have done, was how I did it, the choices, the frame of mind, the work. By no means have my choices been perfect nor their execution flawless, but that too is a great teacher.
I was left asking myself what is it I do now to keep myself happy? Perhaps this short list will be of interest to you. These are some of the things I do, mostly on a daily basis, that I believe contribute to my happiness.
1) Regular exercise, mostly walking, some weight bearing,. I exercise alone with my iPod. The music I choose makes me feel good and my day hardly feels right if I don’t start with a half an hour walk. (Sometimes when I think no one is looking, I’ve been known to bust a move!)
2) Read what I enjoy, not what is socially popular or academically acceptable
3) Surround myself with people who appreciate me and with whom I feel safe
4) Try new things regularly (they needn’t be big things)
5) Be grateful
6) Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much (read: In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan)
7) Do work from which I learn or am gratified (even in retirement)
8) Grow things, mostly herbs
9) Try to learn from everything I do
10) Read, listen, watch and pursue things which feed me
11) Choose not to dwell in the realm of guilt
12) Lick the beaters and the bowl but will share when required
I wish I had known 50 years ago that being happy was more a matter of practice than of purchasing power or status. It’s probably one of those things I just had to learn for myself over time. What a shame we get so smart so late in life!