• April 2015

April Happiness = Lighten Up

How is your Happiness Project going?

We continue evolving our happiness this month based on Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, and this month we focus on her goal for April: Lighten Up.

Why? Rubin says her goal for the entire month of April was one that she held most dear — to be a better parent. Specifically, she explains that she wants “to become more tender and playful with my two daughters. I want a peaceful, cheerful, even joyous atmosphere at home — and I know that nagging and yelling aren’t the way to achieve that.”

Here’s how: Rubin shares that April Fool’s Day conveniently presented her with the perfect opportunity to be more playful. She put a bowl of Cheerios and milk in the freezer and presented it on April 1 to her 7-year-old daughter, Eliza. “Her puzzled look was hilarious,” Rubin recounts.

And here’s what else she tried:

  • Singing in the morning. In the spirit of Rubin’s commitment to “act the way you want to feel,” she began routinely waking her kids up with renditions of happy songs, including “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” It wasn’t always easy, she admits, pointing to the the morning she awoke with an infected eye, and her 1-year-old, Eleanor, developed a bad case of diaper rash. But she kept at it, realizing to her astonishment that she was often able to keep her “sing in the morning” frame of mind all day.
  • Acknowledging the reality of people’s feelings. Here, Rubin gives a nod to parenting experts Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s book, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen.” In it, they insist that parents should acknowledge the reality of anger, irritation, fear, and reluctance, and see the other person’s point of view. She began using a handful of strategies, including: Write it down (don’t like to wear snow boots? Say it on paper); Don’t say “no” or “stop” (explain why the kids can’t do something); and Admit when a task is difficult (studies show people tend to persevere longer with problems they’ve been told are difficult versus easy).
  • Being a treasure house of happy memories. From photo albums to pumpkin carving at Halloween and Rubin’s husband’s invention of “polite night,” develop the traditions that are important — and will remain vivid — to your kids.
  • Taking time for projects. Because traditions often involve projects, and those can boomerang into creating more errands, Rubin suggests coming up with ways to make the chores easier to manage. To help with creating homemade cards, bookmarks, and book covers, she ordered a laminator. She also bought a glue gun, and gave up wearing her pedometer. And, rather than racing to get art projects and birthday parties planned and crossed off her to-do list, she began squeezing as much happiness as possible from a happy event. She explains, “We’ve all heard of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In contrast, I realized, happiness has four stages. To eke out the most happiness from an experience we must: anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.”

Stay tuned for more tips in May: Be Serious About Play

And don’t forget:

January’s resolution: Boost Your Energy

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Toss, restore, and organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
  • Act more energetic

February’s advice: Remember Love

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Hug
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

March’s goals: Aim Higher

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

Learn more about Gretchen Rubin and her happiness project in the December 2014 issue of Be Inkandescent magazine.