The Happiness Project and the Importance of Routine

May 31, 2010

 

One of the many blogs I’ve started following is The Happiness Project. The Happiness Project was actually a book project that author, Gretchen Rubin, began when she decided to spend a year “test driving” different tips out there in the world on how to be happy, and now she continues to blog on this topic and assist other people to start their own “happiness projects”. I confess that I have not read the book (it’s on my ever growing list!) but I really enjoy reading her blog posts. As a writer, she often quotes other writers and

 

I’ve always felt inspired by impactful quotes. In a recent post, she quotes writer Christopher Alexander about the importance of everyday routines on our health and well-being. He says:

 

Being in bed, having a shower, having breakfast in the kitchen, sitting in my study writing, walking in the garden, cooking and eating our common lunch at my office with my friends, going to the movies, taking my family to eat at a restaurant, going to bed again. There are a few more.  There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one person’s way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own life and you will find the same. It is shocking at first, to see that there are so few patterns of events open to me.
Not that I want more of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can live well. If they are bad for me, I can’t.

 

This is such a simple, and yet poignant truth! My clients will often ask me for tips on how to feel better. Part of me always wishes I had a formula to share (e.g. “just do these three things and call me in the morning”) but of course, human beings are way too complex for simple answers to such a big question. However, this quote gets as close to a formula for feeling better as I think we can get! As Gretchen Rubin herself says, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

 

Think about your daily life for a moment. What habits or patterns do you have that promote or get in the way of your wellness? Being late and watching too much television are two habits in my own daily life that stand out as things that make me feel pretty unhappy. Being mindful of the impact on our mental health of our daily activities is a great first step to beginning to develop some new habits. Just writing this post is making me think of some different ways I could spend this holiday day (like instead of watching re-runs of movies on cable, I could pick up one of the many books on my “to-read” list!).

 

If you are interested in checking out Gretchen’s blog click here:  http://gretchenrubin.com/

 

Here’s to days well spent! Have a great holiday, everyone!