I’m in the middle of reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. In fact, I’m in July. I thought the book sounded annoying: too chipper, too cheerful, too prescriptive. And at times, it can be all of those things. But, for the most part, I find it charming, informative, inspiring.
Rubin noticed one day that although she was reasonably happy with her life—and her husband, her two young daughters, her work as a writer—she always had a nagging feeling she should be happier. So she created the Happiness Project. She assigned themes to each month (of course, this made me happy, because this is what I did in My Year in Flowers book). Her twelve themes for the year were:January: Vitality February: Marriage March: Work April: Parenthood May: Leisure June: Friendship July: Money August: Eternity September: Books October: Mindfulness November: Attitude December Happiness
She spent each month reading about the topic and applying certain principles she distilled from her reading to her own life, for example, during the month of July (Money) she worked with these concepts: Indulge in a Modest Splurge, Buy Needful Things, Spend Out, and Give Something Up.
Naturally I was enchanted by this idea. I love putting things in boxes (hence my fascination with planners) and, in fact, I was contemplating posting a monthly theme on my web site. So I decided to create my own Happiness Project and these are the themes I chose (carefully chosen to be seasonal, naturally):January: Serenity February: Relationship March: Health April: Clarity May: Beauty June: Play July: Creativity August: Spaciousness September: Mystery October: Work November: Legacy December: Gift-Giving
I’m still tinkering with these. I stole some from Rubin. Others are my theme words for 2011. I’m already sad I missed some (Play!) but they’ll come around again next year (my Happiness Year apparently starts in July).
Right now I’m having a great time figuring out what to do during the month of Creativity. My principles so far are Borrow Creativity (a trip to a museum or attending a concert or maybe just looking at an artist’s site each day). Go on an Artist Date (I’m planning a trip to my local art supply store; maybe I can count a perfume shop as another one). Try Something New: I want to try a different artistic medium each week, but am having a hard time figuring out what besides my two favorites (outside of writing): photography and collage. Attend Art Events: Luckily I am already attending the opening of the Long Shot photo exhibit at Photo Center Northwest on July 23 (I’ll have a photo in the exhibit! As will everyone who participated). I also found some great events sponsored by the Henry Art Gallery: a workshop on art books (maybe I’ll be inspired to make one) and a talk on the future of book stores by one of the people who is reshaping publishing, Matthew Stadler.
My assignment is already reshaping the way I approach my life/time. I spent a couple of happy hours this morning looking at various visual artist’s sites and following a chain of links to all sorts of cool projects that parallel my own, like the Long Walk, a project by artist Susan Robb and this article on Hamish Fulton, who makes art resulting from the experience of individual walks, which also led me to an article on How To Get Lost in a City, about Amira Hanafi, who produces art from walks she takes. I have no idea what a situationist derive is but I think I should learn. (Actually I just found out by going to Wikipedia: it means taking a drifting (unplanned) walk through a city, noticing ambiance and what appeals.) Come to think of it, this will be my fourth art form: a walk. Which is really the subject of My Year in Flowers book so it all wraps around in a neat circle, like the seasons.
Photos by Waverly Fitzgerald