Friday, July 30, 2010

Happiness Conflict


What was supposed to be a leisurely afternoon nap turned into a heated discussion about closets.

A number of weeks ago, when I started my Happiness Project and knew that sooner or later, I’d be cleaning my master bedroom closet, I mentioned to my husband, “Ummm.. by the way one of these days this summer, I’m going to either go through your closet stuff or ask you to do it.” It’s a secret, but I already went through his stuff before Father’s Day and dumped some shirts into a garbage bag. He didn’t notice and that garbage bag is still taking up space in the closet.

So our leisurely discussion about whether or not to have a garage sale and when/where to dump to stuff, excess stuff, more stuff than people need and currently stuff we don’t want, became a knock-down dragged out discussion about who is storing too much stuff and who won’t let go of too much stuff.

All I was asking was for him to either commit to doing a garage sale with me or tell me where to store the bags and boxes for him to take to Goodwill. (The thought hadn’t occurred to me to drive an hour to Fresno so I could take it to the Goodwill there.... since our discussion, I know I have a Plan B). All I was asking was for him to get rid of the extra shoes I had already asked him to get rid of months ago.

Him: You didn’t tell me those shoes were supposed to be donated.

Her: Yes, I did. I told you when I set them in the garage on your work bench in that blue basket.

Him: I don’t think you did. I remember you pointing them out a few weeks ago. That was the first time I saw them. (Note: They SIT in driver’s eye view of the driver of the car whenever you pull in or out of the garage. NOTE 2: He recently cleaned the garage of a myriad of cobwebs and had to have moved that shoe basket in the cleaning!)

Her: Yes, I did. I am sick of looking at it. And by the way, I needed duck tape the other day and couldn’t even get to your organizer where you keep the tape. I couldn’t reach your toolbox either when I was trying to adjust the thingy on the carpet shampooer and had to keep reaching around the pingpong table into your dark toolbox (we have black widows!) to try to find a tool I couldn’t see.

Him: Well, if you would keep clean the shoe and jacket area, we might be able to move the pingpong table over there. And I’ve been wanting to sell that headboard that your aunt left us. It’s in the way.

Her: YOU are the ONE who let Zach bring home a free camping backpack and you don’t even have space for the 2 we have! And YOU are the ONE WHO....

Conflict. It wasn’t pretty. Currently, my closet is not cleaned. But it will be.

HP 1 I am supposed to clean my closet
HP2 I am supposed to create an atmosphere of love in my home.

Oh my goodness.

HP 3 Apparently, I’m not aiming higher either.
Point 1 - Arguing wasn’t new. It’s really old.
Point 2 - Focusing on one element. Oh bother.
Point 3 - Didn’t make the discussion fun. Rats.

My husband’s response was to clear space and set up a donation station in our garage. See?
The sign reads: Goodwill and Garage Sale Staging Area Only. Violators will be shot!

Sometimes happiness results from what others do for you, not what you do for others. When that happens, you get happy and really humble. I also got hopeful that someday I might be worthy of those whose grace I don't deserve. In the meantime, I will, at the very least, clean my closet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happiness Project, Chapter 3

In all honesty, this is NOT my favorite chapter.

Aim Higher

I think when you are already disposed to reflection and are self-critical, you don’t need anyone to tell you to work or try harder. I like what Watchman Nee is telling me currently in Sit Walk Stand. Nee says it’s a lot about doing nothing and just sitting at the feet of Jesus. Yeah. That’s what I need to hear. But anyway, blog I shall. Why? Because I said I would do it and that’s my nature.

According to Rubin, p. 69, “...the happy outperform the less happy.” Oh, my gosh! In the Mommy World, that is so very true!

Therein lies the cruxt of my difficulties with this chapter. Mommy World. Rubin talks a lot here about striving in her professional life. Well, my professional life at the moment is being a wife and mother. So, in a sense, where do I strive to do better? That is the question I have to ask myself. What Take Away Points can benefit me in my Mommy World?

I like these points -

Point 1: “If you do new things - you are more apt to feel happy than people who stick to more familiar activities.”

Point 2: “Research shows that the more elements make up your identity the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.”

Point 3: “The fun part doesn’t come later, now is the fun part.”

New Things: So, where I fantasize about what “real job” in the “real world” I might sooner or later acquire once again, the Now is about continuing to do New Things. In the last 6 years I have learned to ski, started running, hiked Half Dome, learned to enjoy camping, wrote a music appreciation curriculum, taught a literary analysis class to 6 high schoolers, and learned to crochet. I also started to blog. Currently, I am creating a website for families in my area. New Things. Check. Continue to do New Things... yes, but what? I love that question.

Something you should know about me. I am not naturally adventurous. I chose to be. I chose to be for my little girl. I chose to be so she wouldn’t be afraid of trying new things, physical things. I purposed to be a good example for her and it was prayer that opened the doors and gave me direction. By God’s grace I learned a new meaning of being a “new creation”. If you don’t know what New Thing to do next, ask God. He helps people.

Do you get Point 2? I think of it this way, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, if your total purpose is wrapped up in just a few things and those few things start to unravel at the seams, life becomes a drag. Whereas, if you are cheerfully engaged in a variety of meaningful life-giving pursuits, then you can handle better that cousin, twice removed, who is blaming you for ruining her life when you were both 12 because you were better than her at playing guitar. That cousin twice removed does not have the power to pop your joy bubble; she can only make a little leak, because you are filled with many good things. Diversify your happiness portfolio! (oh, and choose wisely what you fill yourself with!)

The Fun Part: Life is challenging. There is plenty to stew over, but I know from our recent vacation that 3 flat tires in Barstow in mind-boggling heat, is the fun part. We played catch on a blacktop with a nerf football while a couple of guys fixed our tires in the scariest “off the beaten path” place I had ever been. My only trouble, I kinda forgot how to throw a good one. I used to know how to throw a football! The weird stuff. The hard stuff. That’s the fun stuff. The Now really is the fun stuff if you look at it that way.

My Take Away Points - Aiming high for me means looking at life Now with my God Glasses on. I have to remember that all things really are possible; new things, many things, and fun things.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Love does not seek its own...1 Corinthians 13:5

So far, I have no one tracking with me on my HP (Happiness Project) although I have at least three friends who have bought the book and at least two reading it. That’s somethin’!

One of my favorite subjects, Love, I have blogged about previously. But Love has come up again as a result of my HP. You can read Happiness Project, Chapter 2 if you scroll down. My Take Away Point - What says “I love you” to my family?

And then, one of my favorite pastors, BG (Bill Giovannetti) of the Neighborhood Church in Redding, CA has recently blogged about one of my favorite subjects, Love! Please read what he wrote in theological terms about Love, one of my all time favorite subjects. Perhaps it is the most significant topic to dwell upon, ponder and grow into which is why Love is one of my favorite subjects!

Part 2 of BG’s message is here.

I LOVE this stuff even if no one else cares because love does not seek its own!

(That’s just another way of saying, you don’t have to like it just ‘cuz I like it. It’s okay to be different. Love doesn’t need for us to agree about everything or even prefer the same things. )

Don't you just love learning new Bible stuff?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happiness Project, Chapter 2

Gretchen Rubin titles her Chapter: Remember Love

Yeah. I remember it.

Hear the ringing enthusiasm in my voice? I’ve been married 22 years and sometimes I think if I haven’t figured it out by now, I never will. That’s what I thought at the beginning of the chapter, but as I read along, I realized I was reading a woman’s journal as she discovered truths I have already learned such as “nagging only makes him feel bad and me feel worse”. (Those are my words, not Rubin’s and if you haven’t figured that one out yet, every time you nag, pinch yourself or sit in time-out or make yourself take a spoonful of cod liver oil. Stop nagging, ladies, you are just digging a hole for yourself that someday you will be buried in.)

Okay. Moving on.

Chapter 2 was a celebration of what I have learned and what I have already put into practice in my life and in my marriage. Yahoo! Nothing to work on!?

No, I’m not that lucky.

Doing something about something....hmmmm.... I mentioned that in my last post.

Here’s Rubin: “Happiness,” wrote Yeats, “Is neither virtue nor pleasure, nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” Contemporary researchers make the same argument: that it isn’t goal attainment but the process of striving after goals - that is, growth - that brings happiness.”

I know and you probably do too, that husbands want happy wives. It’s that simple. Heard the phrase, If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody’s happy? It’s true, isn’t it? So, get happy!

But, how?

On page 68 Rubin reminds her readers, “The fact is - you can’t change anyone but yourself.”

Duh. That’s marriage 101, right? Putting that principle into practice is perhaps that hardest part about being married, but at our core we know we ought not strive to change our husbands. So, embrace the truth. Change yourself. (For the record, I believe abuse situations require more than these simple principles.)

My Take Away Point from this chapter leads me to put into practice some things I am reading about in another book, For the Family’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. As Macaulay talks about the dynamics of home life she has reminded me of my overall goal: Create a Loving Atmosphere in My Marriage and in My Home. I have to do something about that. It won't happen by itself. It requires me to grow. Bingo! and growing makes me happy!

For the Family’s Sake motivates me to keep my husband and children my priority and the bonus is that in practice, loving them well makes me really happy. Gretchen Rubin puts it this way: Give Proofs of Love. I put it this way: What says “I love you” to my family?

Can you relate?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happiness Project, Chapter 1

My mother and nephew are coming this week. It’s no week to clean my closets. But just so you know, the Happiness Project isn’t just about cleaning closets. In all honesty, I don’t know what it’s ALL about. I’m only on Chapter 2. Today, however, I thought it was time to share what I have been doing about Chapter 1.


For a moment, however, let me move along to Chapter 2 on marriage. Gretchen Rubin reminds her readers of the business school truism: You manage what you measure. She even applies this principle to RELATIONSHIPS. As I read along, it makes a lot of sense. I have a feeling the Happiness Project is a lot about managing and measuring. As I mentioned previously, my fondness for list-making makes this the perfect book for me.

“It is by studying the little things,” wrote Samuel Johnson, “that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.”

Many years ago, I figured out I like to take small steps. I like to achieve. I like to meet my goals. Overwhelming goals like losing 5 or 10 or 15 pounds just aren’t my style. I prefer goals like, I will eat a salad every day. That I can do. I will walk on the treadmill at least 20 minutes 5 days each week. That’s so much easier than training for a marathon. And I feel good when I do what I say I will do. I agree with Samuel Johnson, for me, it is in the little things.

Sometimes I call my little things, Take Away Points. They are the nuggets of truth or measurable principles I can walk away with and do something about. After church, our family always discusses the Take Away Point. Half the fun is hearing everyone’s different points of view and realizing that when God speaks, there are lots of Take Away Points possible! Doing something about something... well, there’ll be more in Chapter 2 on that subject!

The biggest Take-Away point for me from Chapter 1 is this: The One Minute Rule. Don’t postpone any task that can be done in less than a minute.


It keeps my underwear from sitting in the laundry pile on the couch.

It keeps crumbs off my counter.

It keeps books stacked neatly.

It keeps pillows happily propped in their proper places.

The One Minute Rule creates energy. Hence, it is my primary Take Away Point from the chapter on Vitality. Gretchen Rubin talks about exercise and sleep and organizational goals like cleaning your closets, but the One Minute Rule is easy to implement and has already made me happier.

What is making you happy?