My first interaction with Gretchen Rubin’s work was The Happiness Project. I borrowed it from a friend in high school and only made it a few chapters in because I wasn’t ready for it. When I was 18, I was probably at my happiest. I had just graduated high school and was gearing up for college, I had lots of adventures with my friends, and my family life was going pretty well. I didn’t need a book on how to be happy because I was doing it. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll see that I’m in a different place now. I’m more raw than I was in high school, and happiness is more elusive than before. So when I found the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, it came at the perfect time.
Happier has been a little ray of sunshine for me on my commutes. Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, spend about 30 minutes per episode tackling issues that impede happiness and give tips to make your life happier, healthier, and more productive. They also give themselves happiness demerits and gold stars in order to hold themselves accountable and reinforce good behaviors that make them happier. Overall, it’s super positive and encouraging.
My favorite tips from the podcast:
- Do a “power hour” once a week where you do all the things on your to-do list that you have been avoiding
- Join a group or create your own-I joined a book club and yoga, and it’s been great to have a community of people who enjoy the same things I enjoy!
- Develop a minor expertise
- The strategy of pairing
- Get rid of something as soon as it becomes useless
- Outer order contributes to inner calm
I highly recommend this podcast if you’re looking to grow toward creating good habits and being happier in general!
Failure. My biggest fear and constant companion this year. Actually, right here on this blog, I’m going to go ahead and name 2016 “The Year Annette Failed Spectacularly and Lived to Tell the Tale.” I’m owning it. Admitting it out loud.
There are the little failures. Forgetting to take my medicine and getting sick. Messing up and embarrassing myself at work. Not being as good at yoga as I’d like to be. Having days when I can’t seem to meditate, no matter how hard I try. Not meeting the little goals I make for myself (like posting a new blog every Sunday- y’all, it’s Monday). Those hurt, but they’re pretty insignificant in the long run. But I’ve failed miserably at some big things this year. Here are my truths:
I applied to Clemson University for grad school and made it as far as to get academically accepted. However, the program required an assistantship. I went to a two-day conference and used up 2 precious vacation days and interviewed for 6 assistantships. I didn’t get a job, so I won’t be going to school this fall. Grad school? Not this year. Later, I applied to a job at a college near my hometown so I could get some experience in student affairs. I left just knowing I had it in the bag, but they never called me again. New job in a field I’m interested in? Nope. I moved back in with my parents rather than finding a new apartment with my roommate in Greenville. Western society tells me this is a big failure. I lived completely independently for a year, but I want to save money. Independent? Not right now.
I’m face down on the ground at rock bottom right now, mumbling all of this through a big old mouthful of dirt! But I’m saying it! The worst things about the expectations we set for ourselves are that we hide them, making them our secret shames. But I’m out here saying that I’m struggling! And if that makes even one person feel less ashamed of their failures, then I’m stoked outta my mind. I’m failing, but I’m not alone in it. And the goodness that comes from all of it is that I’m so much more willing to stick my neck out because I’ve failed and seen that failure wasn’t fatal. If I fail again, I’ll be okay.
Like my shero JK Rowling said: “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was…. I was set free because my biggest fear had been realized, and I was still alive. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”