Laying by the pool for a few days during my mini vacation was a perfect opportunity to pick up a book, The Happiness Hypothesis, that I’ve been slowly reading for over a year now. Yesterday I got to the part about how back in the day Benjamin Franklin made a list of 13 virtues he wanted to incorporate into his daily life. To make this happen he made a chart with the 13 virtues as the rows and 7 columns with the days of the week. For 13 weeks, focusing on one virtue each week, he worked on these things, marking a black dot with the virtue he didn’t accomplish or stay true to. He focused on one specifically but did take the time to mark if he didn’t do the others. After 13 weeks the charts got less spotty and he claimed that he was, “by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.” Ben Franklin was a pretty smart guy so I thought it would be cool to make a list of my own virtues and work on them, my own little happiness challenge.
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I didn’t go by “virtues” per say, just some things I would like to improve upon and truly believe will lead to a happier, healthier life. And just for the record I know that I spend a lot of time talking about happiness and I would not consider myself to be a generally unhappy person. I just have a very strong belief that if we’re living we need to be working towards our fullest potential in all aspects (making sure to include relaxation and understanding personal limitations) because if not, what’s the point? So here are my 7:
Think before you speak, especially when frustrated, angry or intoxicated. I’m a really self-aware person. When I’m around people I don’t know well or don’t spend a lot of time around, I don’t actually think any more before I say things I just tend to beat myself up more if I say something dumb or hurtful. Lately I’ve noticed that some of the things coming out of my mouth just need to stop. The solution? I need to think before I speak. Forgiveness can be given but words are never forgotten.
Don’t talk negatively about someone just to talk about them. Sometimes I think the real world is worse than high school when it comes to gossip. Probably because the things you’re gossiping about hold more weight and meaning than they do in high school even thought that’s a super sensitive time when words probably hurt more than when you’re older and learn to let things go or you can separate yourself from the people you’re done with. I have a friend who quickly made me realize by her lack of participating in gossip that I do it entirely way too much and I have so much respect and admiration for her for this. There’s a fine line I struggle with walking. When are you venting because a person’s actions make you feel like you’re going to explode or just talking about someone because it’s something to do and it actually brings you closer to the person or people you’re talking to because you now have something in common – judgment and opinion about someone else where you think you’re better or at least know better. I’m about 100% sure this is going to be the most difficult.
Stay off Facebook and Instagram before 9am and after 9pm. I posted a few weeks back about how much influence social media can have on your life if you let it and it can really begin to have a negative impact. I came up with this rule a week ago so that social media wasn’t how I was ending or beginning my day because it shouldn’t hold that much importance. My boyfriend loved this idea and is doing it with me. I slacked about 2 days after I started because it was the weekend and then vacation but those are the times I should probably be using it even less so.
Workout 5 times a week. I actually really love exercise. It hurts and sometimes I feel like if I continue I will keel over dead, but afterwards I love being sweaty and feeling like I accomplished something. I love being sore the next day because I worked that hard and seeing the results of the hard work you put in is the greatest feeling. Whether it be running, playing tennis, hiking, zumba, pilates, yoga, weight training or kickboxing – just 5 times a week. Good for me and really not that difficult to accomplish.
Quiet your mind, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day. How many times have I mentioned this in blog posts and in conversation? A bunch. Have I started doing it? No. Enough said.
Be in the moment when you’re with friends, family and your significant other. Putting the phone away to spend time with the people who matter to you and are right in front of your face shouldn’t be too much to ask for but in today’s society ,well at least America’s, it is. I have hurt peoples’ feelings too many times with this one and I want to be living in the moment, not in cyber space.
Do something kind for someone every day. One of my favorite quotes is, “throw kindness around like confetti.” It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. It could just be throwing a compliment someone’s way or just not being too lazy to do something for someone who needs it. I have to remember to keep my boundaries firmly in place and to not bend over backwards for people all the time but I just want to remember to be kind and do it every day because that’s who I am and who I always want to be.
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I’m going to start this challenge this coming Sunday. I have no clue how it’s going to turn out, if it will really make that much of a difference in my life or not. But I think Ben was on to something and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.
If you decide to do something like this in your own life, please comment below, or PM me on Facebook. I would love to hear about your happiness challenge!