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Archive for February, 2011

Many of you will be familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s blog or book, The Happiness Project. At least, I assume some of you are, because her book cover proclaims it was a ‘New York Times #1 bestseller.’ I hadn’t heard of it, but in a slacker moment watching people shop live at the Book Depository I clicked on the link and bought it for myself.

If you haven’t heard of the book, The Happiness Project is the story of Gretchen’s year long journey to increase her happiness. It’s a good read for a lazy mother like me, because it’s full of bite-sized pieces of happiness wisdom. Easy to put down and pick back up again.

Most of what I read went in one eye and out the other, but some of it has stayed with me. Her ‘four stages of happiness model’ – anticipation, savouring, expression and recall – resonated with me, particularly the last one. Gretchen says that recalling a happy event – through talking about it, reading about it, looking at the photographs – brings feelings of happiness associated with the event. Seems straightforward, I know. My daughter and I often fire up the laptop while I’m trying to get her to eat breakfast and browse through photos and videos of trips to the zoo and the pool. She loves it… her breakfast words are ‘Bubba! Pitch!’ (pictures)

But then I applied the concept to journalling. I have many journals, but I rarely re-read them. Even if I did, it would not be an uplifting experience. I tend to write the most when I’m sad, or frightened, or anxious; when I have big problems I need to work out. Revisit those moments? No thanks.

My five year diary tells a different story. A five year diary has five spaces under each date – one for each year. So for February 23rd, I have entries for 2008, 2009 and 2010. There’s not a lot of room – maybe half a dozen lines in an A5 book – so the entries are short, usually factual and a pretty good balance of positive and negative. Every day, when I open it to make my daily entry, I scan the entries for previous years. What was I doing last year (my first year of motherhood)? The previous year (pregnancy)? And Gretchen is right. I love reading over the happy moments – a funny thing that happened at work, a touching moment with my daughter, a romantic gesture from my husband.

At least I can console myself that even if I ‘miss’ the moment because I’m too busy photographing it, I can still reap the happiness benefit for years to come!

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