My fifth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/22/2012:
My Happiness Project*
I started reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin a few months back, and finished it over winter break. The concept of happiness is something I think of often. I have always been a ‘happy’ person. However, I began to question the roots of my happiness when others inquired about the reasons. It was always difficult for me to articulate why, beyond, “I just am.” After reading “The Happiness Project” and having some of the same “my-life-is-full-but-am-I-the-happiest-I-can-be?” sentiments as Gretchen, I determined I would start my own Happiness project, along with another SA First Year blogger, Katie Ericson. It’s good to have a friend to bounce ideas off of and keep you accountable. Each month we have determined to have a new focus that will keep us striving toward the ultimate goal of being happier.
January was my month for energy. My mini goals were to eat healthier, push myself to work out, and pick up clutter a little at a time. These were all things that make me feel better once I have completed them. I have more energy when I eat natural and healthy food. I have more energy when I work out regularly. And I have more energy (and feel less stressed) when my home has less ‘stuff’ just lying around. Overall, I did decent. Some days were strong in a few areas, and others were strong in all areas. However, I did not keep a chart about my successes or faults each day to show my progress. But I didn’t want to because it seemed like it would become a chore, and I thought that would be counterproductive to this happiness project. Following January, I determined each month would have a new focus.
February’s focus has been connecting with more people, more often. I always find great enjoyment in talking with others and sharing stories from our personal and work lives. However, I am not good with initiating these conversations with friends or family whom I do not see on a day-to-day basis. I have made so many great connections with people through my past experiences, but I have also moved frequently and at times, communicating with those I care about often because it seems burdensome. Not because I don’t like talking with each of them, but there are just SO many of them. It seems Student Affairs folks have some of the longest “connections” lists: our family, and our close friends from High School, College, Graduate School, internships, first jobs, and maybe even summer camp. I just get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people who have made me, and my life, better.
This post is not necessarily about my happiness project, but more so about the need to reach out to others for whom we care. While it’s not my first instinct to call people I haven’t seen in a while, I am trying hard to reach out more. I have yet to make an incredible amount of phone calls, but I have reached out to friends in the area to get together more frequently, asked colleagues to lunch I never see, and sent cards to my best friends from my childhood. I even wrote a letter to a friend completing her mission in South America, and attended events hosted by others even when I felt exhausted. After each of these interactions, I gained more energy and more desire to continue to stay connected.
I also think part of the reason why I struggle to maintain communication with people I care for is, simply, time. Often our student affairs jobs have us working long hours. Part of that time is used to reach out our students to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful, healthy, and involved in their educational experience. This definitely keeps us busy (and happy)! I have also seen amazing outreach within our field at the professional level.
As February is coming to a close, I think this is a good reminder for me to continue reaching out to my friends in the Student Affairs field, and making the effort to connect with those I care about from other various stages in my life. I hope this encourages you to reach out and connect with others as well!
*For more information about ‘The Happiness Project,” visit: http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/
You can read about the book, learn tips about happiness from the author, and even sign-up to start your own Happiness Project.