The Happy Project was shaped in my mind before the end of the day. It started out as The Happiness Project, I Googled it, and there is a book I’m looking forward to reading (here) by Gretchen Rubin. So I Googled, “The Happy Project” found no books or significant content about it and decided to make it mine!
Pretty straight forward how this project was born, right? As time goes on, I know it will be more difficult - but with certain steps I am learning to live The Happy Project.
STEP 1: Learn
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, has become the core step in learning how to BE Happy. I started CBT before I started The Happy Project, but I quickly learned about how I could put the two together. I’ve learned a lot about how to use tools to help stop spiraling, but I still have way more to go! I’m accepting that this is a process and I am never going to be done learning about how to better be prepared for positive and negative situations in life.
One of my tools is the Worry Tree. It makes an appearance at least once a week. The simple questions and flow chart were given to me by my therapist and it has truly helped!
STEP 2: Social Media
As I start to take the slow approach to healing myself, Social Media was then on my list. Now, funny enough, social media management and marketing is my job, so I can’t really get away from the internet. But, when it came to the people I was following on my own Instagram/Facebook I followed more and more and more people waiting to start becoming one of them. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t reality. This isn’t the way real life happened.
So what did I do? I unfollowed a shit ton of people. I unfriended a few people - mostly “friends” who I never spoke to who had filtered me from seeing more than basic information about them anyways. My thought was this, why do I remain “friends” with someone who is not going to appreciate pictures of my children? Or pictures of my dogs? Or little things that make my day better? Yes I needed justification to do it, but in the end I felt better. Still do.
What do I miss the most? Nothing. What did I gain? Happy.
What I do now is take a real look at what I’m following or look at. If I ever think to myself “Oooooh if I do xyz maybe I can feel…” Then I don’t follow that person/hashtag/story. It’s a strong no. Things online do not HELP me FEEL anything. It doesn’t help, period.
STEP 3: Old Habits
Old habits die hard. I am the sort of person that feels commitment to things without the “thing” in question even knowing just HOW committed I am. This makes me a great wife (toot toot) and digital friend, but it takes a toll on things that I want to try. Changes and adjustments in my life pile on top of each other and I find discomfort trying to fit it all in together.
Example: I used to listen to a radio show in San Diego. I continued to listen to their podcast here in New Jersey. I was a committed listener for over 10 years. But I found that I wasn’t laughing as much, feeling anxious if I didn’t listen to the episodes in order, rolled my eyes at the “bits” that were done on air. I just got tired of committing myself to listen to this radio podcast when I wanted to fill my ears with books!
So I stopped. I looked at Jeff one day and said “I’m done listening to them” and he said “An end of an era, huh?” And you know what, it was the BEST feeling! I had some anxiety that Monday morning when the show started, but I found that I was getting much more out of my listening time and actually ENJOYING what was going into my ears via my Audible app!
Moral of the story? Get rid of the little things that weigh you down. If you find that you still want it, pick it back up! But for me, I’m free of that one burden and it is making me happy.
STEP 4: Why do I…?
Why do I do any of this? Why do I keep stressing about cooking dinner - even though it is one activity that I love to do? Why do I keep picking up my phone, look at other people’s lives, and feel jealous? Why do I keep stressing about not making my bed everyday? Why do any of it at all?
I had the thought: If I don’t worry about everything, what is it that I will think about? I looked into my heart and felt relief for uncovering my truth and then sadness for the way that my mind naturally works. Realizing that I felt a need to worry to fill my mind was a painful experience. But it was an honest one too. It is probably one of the most honest things I have ever thought about myself.
So what do I do about it now? Well, since I am still at the beginning of The Happy Project, I acknowledge its existence and wait for the change to come. As they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step.
I hope you come along with me on my journey of The Happy Project. I’m committing myself to writing all of this down so that I stay accountable. I will probably post a weekly recap about challenges I’ve faced, happiness that I’ve created, and feelings I’ve had.
I look forward to being happy.