#4. Lighten Up

To catch up, scroll down to My Happiness Project in my archives.
The subgroups in the Lighten Up topic, from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, are:
* Sing in the morning
* Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
* Be a treasure house of happy memories
* Take time for projects
Basically, this chapter was about lightening the mood in everyday life. For Gretchen, it was about creating a “peaceful, cheerful, even joyous atmosphere at home.” She wanted “to be more lighthearted.”

[*Note: I am citing from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. The following are my own thoughts based on what I read in her book. I am in no way taking credit for her research, writing, creativity, and opinions.]

Sing in the Morning:
In order to get her mornings running more smoothly, Gretchen came up with a resolution to start singing in the morning. She did this for her children, but I say it could work in any home. Here’s my morning song pick. Please watch a snip-bit of it; I promise it’ll make you laugh!

“The days are long, but the years are short.” Remember that.
Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings:
This subgroup pertained mostly to her children, but since my job is to nanny two and a half-year-old twins six days a week/eight hours a day, I’m going to go ahead and say I can relate. Gretchen read the books Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. In these books, the authors state that we should acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings, even if they are feelings such as anger, frustration, fear, etc. There are many different tips she gives, but one of my favorite, and something I have been doing (or at least trying to do), since I was fifteen is: Don’t say “no” or “stop.” With all of my experience with children I try to say positive phrases. Instead of saying, “Stop running,” I say, “Use walking feet.” Or, “Please make a better choice,” instead of, “Stop doing that.” Even with the twins, I don’t like to use the word “No.” Of course it’s inevitable in the heat of the moment. “Nooo! Don’t knock over the basketball hoop!” But for the most part, I use positive phrases. I find they react and listen much better.
Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories:
“Studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present.”

Although Blake and I don’t have children yet, I’ve already started commemorating our memories. After reading about keepsaking (apparently that’s not a real word?), I got motivated. Umm, how many of us use Facebook (or something else) as a way to store our photographs? How many of y’all just let your pictures sit in iPhoto or Picasa? I’m totally and completely guilty of this. But, not anymore! I uploaded over 200 pictures and had them developed. There were pictures since July! I put all of them in photo albums and wrote little captions next to them. I am not relying on Facebook any longer!
Gretchen says that sending out fast and fun little e-mails periodically (to friends and family members) boosts everyone’s happiness. I think this is so true, and I’m proud to say I already do this. I’m always sending my parents quick e-mails through my iPhone. Pictures, too. It makes me happy when the gesture is returned, or when B sends me random sweet little love texts. It always puts a smile on my face.
Another important topic is family traditions. Do you have any family traditions? B’s family has so many, especially for the holidays. I love all of them—some I have participated in, and others I will once we’re married. We even talk about the traditions we want to do when we have a family of our own. One thing we plan to do is get one another a Christmas ornament every year. It can be something funny or sentimental, or from a vacation/place we are living in. I’m also going to start using my iPhoto more and create an album for us every year.
Organization tip: Gretchen uses file boxes to store items for her children. She labels it by sections: birthday cards, invitations, school awards, etc. My mom used three-ring binders with protective sheets. I think this is a definite must! It’s too easy to let important things become clutter, and this is a way to keep important memories, but keep them out of the way. How fun would it be for your children to look back at their kindergarten artwork when they’re thirty?
Take Time for Projects:
“Traditions often involve projects… [which] take time, energy, planning, and patientce.”
“Happiness has four stages…. we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall happiness.”
Gretchen talks about how “taking photographs sometimes makes it hard to savor a moment when it’s happening…,” and it reminded me of an old episode of Regis and Kelly. Kelly was talking about how she’s always trying to take pictures of her family, especially on vacations, and she feels like she misses the moments/experiences because she was too busy behind the camera. [Does that sounds like you?] B and I often miss out on many photo-opp’s because we’re too busy enjoying the moment. Then, I look back and wish I had a picture of it. However, there are plenty of people who are way too busy taking pictures that they don’t bask in the moment. There needs to be a happy medium. It’s true that pictures will help us remember happy moments (because honestly, would you remember everything that made you happy?) but you shouldn’t be too worried about capturing every moment. Relax.
[Here’s a pic I didn’t want to stop to take, but I’m glad we did.]

So what do you think? What are some ways you “lighten up”? What do you need to improve on? Plus, I could really use your opinions. There are several more chapters to go… so… do you think I’m writing too much, not enough? Do you want to know more from the book, or more of my opinions/experiences? More pictures? I can take the criticism, people! =D
Have a happy week, everyone! xoxo

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2 Replies to “#4. Lighten Up”

  1. I totally was thinking I need to print some of my pictures. I have them all sitting in iphoto. Also, I know a photographer who blogged about the very idea of being behind the camera too much that she forgets to sit back and just enjoy the moment.
    I need to lighten up by not being so obsessed with cleaning. Having a clean place is great, but when you are constantly cleaning you miss out on the fun in life.
    I consider myself someone who is young at heart. Just because I'm 25 doesn't me I need to be "mature" at all times. Goofing off helps me lighten up.

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