I went to the Topanga Film Festival this morning to see the documentary Happy and I started thinking about happiness, the concept, the reality and the possibilities. I have been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for about a year now and enjoy the daily quotes and reflections, but I wondered, how can I spread happiness, encourage happiness and find areas in my life to insert happiness?
Encouraging signs are popping up everywhere, for example, my husband was given the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert awhile ago and it was mentioned in the movie today, and this quote that showed up today on Facebook from Weight Watchers:
“Life has no remote. You have to get up and change it yourself!”
So I know what I can do to make myself happy:
incorporate a healthy lifestyle into my daily life,
allow creativity to be a priority
spend time with my family
connect with my close friends
practice kindness and tolerance
Now I want to expand by giving more happiness:
sharing what I have to give
helping worthy causes
creating more happiness in my home
creating more happiness in my classroom
It is a commitment, but also a choice, to surround oneself with happiness. It is a road I am choosing to walk.
Well, so much time has passed and I have very little in the way of an excuse for my lack of writing. It is true I had the cold from hell for 2 weeks, and yes I was finishing up the last couple of weeks of Six Weeks in a Cast, but it seems that I have been spending a lot of time doing everything but writing. I have been reading many blogs written by others, finding old and new friends on Facebook, keeping up with my book club reading, attending social events and getting much-needed sleep. As Gretchen Rubin dictates in The Happiness Project, it is time to Aim Higher. I take that as a challenge, and being the Type A person that I am, I must have a continuous challenge, meaning there must always be something new to entice me.
I am getting my walking legs back and have joined a couple of women at my school in the Couch to 5k program, starting today. It is actually a great motivator and the best part is that there is an iPhone App. for the program. Basically you just select the music from your iPod to insert into the program, select the day and week of the program, i.e. today I was on Week 1, Day 1 and the program tells you what to do. I love it! It says, “Warm Up. Brisk walking” and then the timer counts down from 5 minutes. This continues through walking and running intervals and then a cool-down. The music plays in between voice commands. I actually RAN! That in itself is amazing. I did my workout, hit a few of the strength training machines and came home to eat my healthy dinner, take my Melaleuca vitamins and drink my water. Life is good.
Time to hop back on the treadmill.
The Wellness Company I now represent!
I am watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and I notice a stadium full of positive people from all over the world, all getting along and am seemingly exuberant. How can this be? Well, these people all in one place with something in common: the love of athletics. Perhaps if we search for the things we have in common with people of other countries, instead of focusing on our differences, we can create a world that shares joy and comes together during times of sorrow, a tall order for a world of separatists, fierce with pride and often unwilling to see the good in those who are seemingly different. I propose a one week contest:
For one week, make only positive comments, look for the positive in people and situations and after the week, post a comment here about any changes you notice.
Vroman's Bookstore: A book lovers fantasy.
Today, for the first time in a week, the sun was out when I woke up, providing rays of hope for a day filled with energy and productivity. This is the first day in the three weeks since “the fall” that I have had enough energy to stay in an upright position for the majority of the day. I decided to do a bit of belated Happiness Project goals from January in the form of moving energy, i.e. cleaning my cherished writing area of the massive amounts of clutter that have accumulated in three weeks and concurrently, I decided to de-germ our home since we have been under the influence of a nagging cold for the better part of the week. I carefully listed the areas to be cleaned and I am happy to say I actually made good progress. I can see the desktop, as well as the surfaces of a few random tables. Papers have been filed, are waiting to be shredded or are resting comfortably in the trash bin. I have (gag) paid bills, deleted e-mails and sent communications and now am finally settling in to write my latest thought.
I have decided that I want to be a featured author/speaker at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. I have fallen in love with this quaint store that is old (1894), classic in its independence and it’s style: two-stories, sporting wood shelving and paneling and featuring real booksellers. Yes, the people who work there are actually booksellers, not retail salespeople and they know of which they speak, their love and knowledge of books permeating the store. The store features events: book groups, talks, signings, and readings all listed on its informative website where you can find everything you want to know about this amazing store, past, present and future.
The Pasadena area is a great place for a field trip too, pedestrian friendly with many interesting places to eat. The community is old and established, the home of the famous Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl its streets lined with mature trees and lovely, stately homes. Traveling to Vroman’s is like taking a little visit back in time to days when times were simpler, technology was less and books read in their proper form, typeset on paper hardbound with sturdy jackets to protect the binding and flaps of information to entice the reader.
I can visualize myself upstairs in the area reserved for book events, presenting my new book to an enthusiastic crowd who waits patiently to have me sign their newly purchased copy of the book and perhaps pose with me for a picture. A day when I will sit in the little café in Vroman’s and sigh, “I did it.”
I made this butterfly cake to celebrate Hope's wonderful journey described in her book The Possibility of Everything.
Last night I spent the evening surrounded by some of my favorite women in the comfortable, serene atmosphere of my friend Sue’s home. We had delicious potluck (somehow with this group there is always the right combination of food) and conversation followed by a great talk and description of her journey by Hope Edelman. Her book: The Possibility of Everything is a fascinating story of trust, alternative viewpoints and hope. Hope writes in a most compelling way, and I felt involved in her story on many levels. First of all, as a mother, I felt compassion for her struggles with her daughter and her commitment to help her daughter come out on the other side. Secondly, I related to her role as a mother/wife/writer who has temporarily lost her sense of self. Thirdly, her struggles with her relationship felt all too familiar, balancing time and the energy it takes to support modern lifestyles. Hope inspired me to write more and to find out what my story will be.
Gretchen Rubin and Me at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena
Monday night I had another literary adventure attending the book signing of Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. First of all, as my friend Danielle and I entered the store, audible gasps could be heard from us as we took in the amazing variety of wonderful things, books, cards, gifts and more books. And, it’s two stories of wonderfulness! We made our way upstairs in the elevator and enjoyed listening to Gretchen describe her realization of her need to create more happiness in her life. Reading both her blog and her book has motivated me to appreciate more, create what I need and to focus on happiness. We waited for the line to go down and got her signature in our books. I even managed to have her write a note to my sister-who was unable to attend. Spreading the happiness.
As we were leaving, we noticed that Friday night, Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame will be talking about and signing her new book, Commitment. We got two books and two tickets and are looking forward to another night of book talk.
I want to be surrounded and embraced by books, words, new thoughts, random punctuation, other worlds and unforseen experiences. And through some serendipity, I am. My next task is to visualize myself as the writer, the creator and eventually the person giving the book talk. Everything is possible with a commitment to happiness.