Are you happy? Whether you think you are or not, The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin inspires a positive, exploratory outlook on life. By sharing her journey, Gretchen illuminates the possibilities of feeling happy in any life circumstance. She explores conventional wisdom & new research about happiness, and then applies it to her own life in a series of monthly resolutions and changes in attempt to add happiness to her life. When I read it I was feeling especially sad about my job. I thought a new job in a new location would make me happy, but The Happiness Project taught me that happiness is more about my attitude and outlook, rather than my specific job and address. Her journey is inspirational to anyone searching to squeeze more happiness out of life! The Happiness Project left me happier and ready to tackle any challenge, just as it can for you!
You’ll see more to come from me about this book. If you’re interested, check out the notes I took from my reading. This great read is full of useful wisdom & anecdotes. Thanks Gretchen for sharing your story!
mel, the Venture Gal
Happy 2013! Time to make those “New Years Resolutions” right? Wrong. If you read my post from last year about this year, “No New Years Resolutions“ this statement shouldn’t surprise you. I don’t wait until 1/1 to make resolutions. It seems silly. Every day is the start to a new year. I can make resolutions anytime. And I do. That’s pretty much what my life experiments accomplish – regular challenges toward self improvement, trying new things. So 1/1 isn’t going to be any different.
I do enjoy celebrating the start to a new calendar year. It is a new calendar year, a time to reflect on the past calendar year, & think about the next. I had a wonderful time celebrating with friends in beautiful northern California.
On 12/31 I reflected a bit on what’s important to me. Reminiscent of a former post, “What’s Important in Life?“, it will come as no surprise that these made the short list:
- People (family, friends, relationships, others)
- Challenges, continuous improvement
Then after ringing in 2013 with friends & French bulldogs, post delicious dinner, Cards Against Humanity,
sexy hats, & noise makers, I wrote a cheers to a 2013 filled with
(I was pretty tired at this point so at some point I started rambling & writing all sorts of good sounding words)
so here’s to that calendar year, filled with all of that & more!
mel, the Venture Gal
For November, I said I would…
- Express My Gratitude. In the spirit of Thanksgiving & just being more appreciative overall, each day I will write & send a thank you note to someone. I have so much to be thankful for & so many people who I am blessed to have in my life. I want to recognize people who I am so glad I have in my life!
- Not Lift Anything More than 10 Pounds. Why, you ask, would a Crossfit enthusiast give up the very practice that is fundamental to Crossfit. More forced than by choice, I will not be lifting anything that weighs more than 10 pounds because after emergency surgery last week I was ordered to not lift anything more than 10 pounds. The risk of internal bleeding is another extrinsic motivator for this goal. And the fact that I’m so tired all of the time & sometimes in pain just sitting or standing.
As I mentioned in my update post, Thankful, my expression of gratitude was often batched, versus spread out as a daily activity.
Not lifting more than 10 pounds was challenging! Especially when I started to feel better & more energetic after the surgery, it became easier to forget about this limitation for my recovery. Traveling was the biggest obstacle. The weekend after my surgery I traveled to California for a wedding & needed to ask total strangers to lift my bag for me. Usually I quickly explained, as all they saw was a young, healthy looking girl asking for help lifting a very light bag. Fortunately, the kindness of strangers prevailed & I built up the skill of asking people for help, something I have struggled with my entire life.
For December, I am focused on rebuilding strength & refocusing priorities. What do I mean by that?
- Rebuilding strength. My 10 pound limit is off & now it’s time to gradually build up the strength I accomplished over the past 6 months. Today I went to Hyperfit/Crossfit for the first time in five weeks…my first WOD back. It felt great to be back, but illustrated the challenge ahead. I deadlifted the bar, 45 pounds, when I was nearing 145 pounds before my surgery. I got tired quickly. My heart rate increased much quicker than before & my core was sore after the warmup. Good thing I enjoy a challenge.
- Refocusing priorities. What is important to me? What do I want to do with my life? Sometimes I think I have the answers to these questions, but in reality I know it’s a continual process of learning. In December I’d like to spend more time executing & learning, & less time reading & responding to emails. This is a short experiment that hopefully will lead to a clearer 2013 goal plan. It also means you’re better off reaching me by phone.
Since December is a giving month, I also look forward to giving gifts just as I gave thanks during November. Gifts aren’t always material. Gifts can be anything from a smile, advice, a physical good, a compliment, or a kind introduction, among other things. This month I’ll spread gifts like Santa! without the big jolly belly or bright red suit.
What are you doing this month?!
mel, the Venture Gal
In September, my life experiments were:
- Storytelling - write a story every day.
- Smile - each morning I will think of one thing that makes me smile & then throughout the day, when I find myself not smiling, I will think of my “smile point” to trigger that smile.
- Stretch - at least 10 minutes of stretching on days I crossfit.
September soared by & I don’t feel as great about my life experiments this month.
First, storytelling…I did not write a story every day. Every other day was more likely & sometimes 1 every 2 days. For some reason writing stories was more challenging than answering deep thought questions. It may be more a function of the month than the life experiment itself.
Smiling…for the first part of the month I was much better at this. Every morning I would think of my “smile trigger” & I would reach to it consistently throughout the day. I found myself smiling more, feeling more positive, & even noticing how people treated me a little differently. About mid-late September this faded & I’m not sure exactly why. My belief is that I let too much of life frustrations & negativity infect how I was thinking & how I reacted because of it. Moral of the story: Keep that smile trigger. Don’t let the icky stuff get you down.
I did stretch a lot more than I had been. I didn’t time it to a science, but I did roll out my muscles & stretch typically before & after crossfit. I didn’t do any yoga though. No excuses for that…I lost that habit when my lifestyle changed to one that is a bit more…nomadic.
Like September, I think October will be really challenging for my life experiments. There’s just a lot going on in my life & it seems like I’m running 1000 mph most days. Knowing that, I’m going to focus on two life experiments for October:
- Only check email in the morning after I spend 5 minutes just being. Just sitting in silence with my own thoughts & imagination. 5 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but I imagine it will feel longer, especially at first, when I force my self to be still & reflective. I tend to already do this at sporadic parts of my day, depending on the day, but I’d like to bring it into my morning routine because I hypothesize that it will add some clarity & zen to my day that will help me overcome frustrations & stress.
- Write a screenplay. There’s no significant correlation with October for this, other than the fact that I’m participating in the Great Write Off! Read more about my screenplay venture here & please support me if you can! During the month of October I’ll get the ball rolling with the screenplay, with the overall goal to finish it by the end of the year.
What are you experimenting with this October?
mel, the Venture Gal
As you may recall, my August life experiments were to
- Ask & Answer a Thought Question every day
- Abs – do 300 ab exercises 3 times per week
Well August is over & here’s how it panned out…
I answered a lot of thought questions…some a bit more serious than others. Some of my favorite & most helpful reflections were my responses to “What’s Most Important in Life?”, “What Scares You Now?”, & “What’s the Right Path in Life?”
Something I learned along the way was with thought questions, sometimes those are best answered over a period of time. Many of the questions I had on my list were not questions I could sit & answer in 30 minutes or an hour…at least in a comprehensive, well thought out way. They are questions that take regular reflection over a period of time. Plus, knowing ourselves is a process, so the answers may always be evolving. I still think it was a valuable exercise & though I won’t continue to answer those types of questions daily, I will continue to answer them for myself & reflect on those questions regularly because I think it’s important to my personal growth.
My abs…feel great! I’m not sure how much my increased ab strength is due to the core focused exercises as opposed to crossfit, running, & the other exercising I do.
For September, these are the life experiment ventures I’m setting out to pursue…
- Storytelling - write a story every day. It doesn’t have to be true – it can be a fictional story. I am still working on improving my writing & I’m a big believer that doing it every day is very helpful in improving my writing. Writing a story every day is a nice tiny habit toward my ultimate goal of writing a book & screenplay.
- Smile – during my week doing BJ Fogg‘s Tiny Habits program, one of my Tiny Habits was to smile after sending an email. This was probably the most challenging of my 3 Tiny Habits, which was surprising to me. I think because I send so many emails during a day & the period “after” an email is so short & not thought out. So I’m changing this up a bit. I’m combining this Tiny Habit with another I started during the program – say something I’m grateful for after starting my car. I’m stripping away the “anchor habits” of sending email & starting my car. Instead, each morning I will think of one thing that makes me smile & then throughout the day, when I find myself not smiling, I will think of my “smile point” to trigger that smile. It’s much more organic…less forced than smiling when I’m sending an email. My prediction is that this will be more effective for me than the anchor habits I was using before. We’ll see though!
- Stretch. Since starting crossfit I have found myself stretching less. I used to do yoga fairly regularly & now, during the time I probably need it most to stretch out my worked muscles, I am doing it less. This month I’m going to focus on regaining my commitment to stretching. Yoga at least once per week & at least 10 minutes of stretching on days I crossfit.
What are you working on this month?
Stay tuned for updates from these ventures.
mel, the venture gal
Today starts a new month & with that, a new life experiment. Early in July I wrote about Ventures in Life, mentioning my experimental approach to life. July’s life experiment was Just Write…write & publish every day, as well as a crossfit & recipe goal.
- I wrote & published every day. Even when without internet access, I found a way & published from my phone. I love writing & enjoy the act of writing regularly.
- Writing became a habit. Though I do not think it takes 21 days to form a habit, making a practice of doing something everyday for an entire month really engrained it as a habitual practice.
- I also did crossfit at least 2-3 times each week, bringing me to a total of 25 crossfit workouts since starting.
- Recipes I did create! I do still need to get better at documenting them though…
August Life Experiments
Ask & Answer Questions. Every day I will ask myself (& you, if you want to partake) a “daily thought question” & will answer the question, publishing my answer on my blog. In doing this, I will also continue with my writing every day resolution.
Awesome Abs August. 3 times a week I will do 300 core strengthening moves:
- 30 crunches
- 20 bicycle crunches
- 30 toe touches
- 20 reverse crunches
- 15 side plank hip lifts (right)
- 30 crunches
- 15 side plank hip lifts (left)
- 40 Russian twists
- 30 bicycle crunches
- 15 oblique crunches (right)
- 20 reverse crunches
- 15 oblique cruches (left)
- 10 leg lifts
And because I’m addicted to crossfit I will keep that up as well!
Actually write down recipes. When I create a recipe from scratch, write down proportions & ingredients so I can share them with others.
Here’s to a great August!
mel, the venture gal
Life is full of ventures. By definition, a venture is “an undertaking involving uncertainty as to the outcome, especially a risky or dangerous one”. Life is uncertain. Life is full of undertakings with uncertain outcomes.
So why not have some fun with it?
I approach life as a series of ventures. Trying new things. Being in the present. Ready to tackle what comes my way. It’s part of my improv philosophy to life. Some of my life’s ventures are spur of the moment, unexpected, & dynamic. Some are more calculated & more like “life experiments”. Monthly ventures. Daily ventures. Yearly ventures. and so forth.
What does that mean? To me, it’s about trying things out. Trying new things for a certain period of time. Making changes in my life to see what the impact is. For instance, for November last year I tested out “No News November”, for which I spent the entire month not reading any news. I got my news from other people sharing news with me. Result: I didn’t feel like I was living under a rock (though I did find out about the Italian cruise ship crash a couple days after it actually happened…oh darn). Have I avoided news since then? No, but I sure read a lot less of it. What I’ve learned is that if people put themselves in the opposite extreme of the behavior desired to change, people default to the mean…taking that behavior in a positive direction but not necessarily going 100% to the opposite side of the spectrum.
I’ll elaborate more as I share my ventures. Here’s a quick snapshot of my current life experiment ventures:
Monthly Venture: July
Write every day!
Crossfit (2-3 times/week)
Create a recipe
Stay tuned for more to come about life ventures!
mel, the venture gal