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Happiness: The Essential 7 Steps

Have you heard of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project? Gretchen dedicated a year to test-driving her pursuit of happiness through measurable goals and creating habits. I know I’m not alone in this stage of life (#busymom) – finding that all of a sudden, topics pertaining to self care really pique my interest. I wanted to devote some time to delve into her list of 7 and consider how I can apply them to my daily routine.

Here they are – the Essential 7 (list taken directly from the Happiness Project’s podcast #90):

  1. Eat and drink more healthfully.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Save and spend wisely.
  4. Rest, relax, and enjoy.
  5. Stop procrastinating – make consistent progress.
  6. Simplify, clear, and organize.
  7. Engage more deeply.

They seem so simple, and even obvious, am I right? But I know I haven’t been intentional about making a habit out of all of them. Let’s discuss!

1. Eat and drink more healthfully. We all know how important this is! As someone who genuinely likes vegetables and fruits and lean protein, you would think this wouldn’t be so difficult. But: SUGAR. It is my kryptonite for sure. I’m going to make a significant effort to cut back, limiting true sweets/desserts/candy and even soda to 2-3x/week. This will be a real challenge for me, as evidenced by the photos below of actual things I ate recently. 😋

2. Exercise regularly. I’m definitely working on this one. My goal is to exercise 3-4 days/week (although I would prefer 5-6). My work schedule just changed again, as did Lincoln’s childcare schedule, so I’m going to have to adjust to this new routine and figure out where exercising will fit in. For me, the key to exercising is making it a regular habit. Right now, I’m not sure where it’s going to fit into my days on a regular basis, so I’ve just been running sporadically. I’m keeping at it!

3. Save and spend wisely. Oooh, this is a good one. Finances can be stressful, so it makes sense that having healthy money habits will add to your overall happiness. I’d love to pay down debt and save more. Again, with the shift in my job, things are a little off-kilter in our world at the moment. Once I see my paychecks become consistent, I’m hoping to set aside certain percentages to help with my goals. I’m already decent at limiting purchases with one major exception: food. We have to eat, right? But I know I could spend less in this department, especially when it comes to eating out (it’s so convenient!) [insert picture of empty wallet and sad face here 😂]

4. Rest, relax, and enjoy. I have to laugh, because the thought of just “resting and relaxing” makes me about 98% certain that I would fall asleep if I did both simultaneously. Maybe my goal should be to go to bed earlier, and perhaps spend some time reading a book before I go to sleep. That’s doable. As for the “enjoy” part – I’m ok at this. I often look for reasons to savor the moment I’m in, and I do focus on having a grateful heart. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. (See example below of my picture of a lovely sunset, which I happened to be enjoying.)

5. Stop procrastinating – make consistent progress. YES. This is something I’ve been very intentional about in the last few years. No matter how menial the task, I ask myself if it’s something that can be done RIGHT NOW, or if it has to wait until later for reasons beyond my control. If I can do it immediately, I make every effort to get it done. This applies to my blog, filling out paperwork that needs to be turned in, getting a part or piece for something that needs to be fixed around the house or car, etc. (I am not great at this when it comes to dishes & laundry: the banes of my existence.)

6. Simplify, clear, and organize. I recently wrote a post that touched on these topics (read it here). I’m working on clearing clutter from my tables and counters (our family “drop zones”), organizing the mail (I’m always behind sorting and filing mail), and simplifying (specifically social media – consuming content that is relevant and limiting my time on it however possible, rather than scrolling endlessly).

7. Engage more deeply. I love this concept, especially in terms of improving happiness. When I think of engaging deeply, I think of discussing things like The Meaning of Life. Gretchen suggests reading the Bible, volunteering, spending time with friends – all great places to start. I’m going to make more of an effort to really absorb the self care tips I’ve been reading about and apply them to my life, performing more acts of service through volunteering and assisting others, and scheduling more social time (dates with my husband and dates with my girlfriends – all of which have been sorely lacking in the last couple of years).

I’m looking forward to diving into The Happiness Project to find out more about how Gretchen spent her year “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier” (quoted from the description of the book on Amazon). 🙂 I think we could all use more healthy & happy in our lives!

Questions for you!!

• Do any of the 7 stand out to you??
• Do you think you’ll apply them to your own life? If so, which ones and how?

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