Sunday, June 23, 2013

What is the Year of Joy?

In a nutshell, the Year of Joy is my version of a Happiness Project, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project.

Of course, I immensely enjoyed the book, but there was one thing about it I just couldn't fathom (other than Rubin's love of making lists, which occasionally made me want to gag): Rubin kept defending the viability of her project, as though she had to justify a desire to be happier.

She cited studies so we would know that our being happier would make the world a better place. (That contributed to an interesting paradox; if knowing that we could make the world a better place didn't make us happier, we wouldn't want to do it.) At first, I couldn't imagine what sort of people would need studies to convince them to want to be happier (not to be happier, just to want to be happier). But Rubin proved me wrong by describing some of her conversations with just such people.

I blame it on the fact that she lives in New York.

One thing that I could relate to, when Rubin discussed her reasons for wanting to be happier, is one thing she kept saying: It wasn't that she wasn't happy, she just wanted to be happier.

I'm not starting my own Happiness Project because I'm unhappy. Far from it. Actually, I consider this time of my life the very happiest I've ever experienced. I'm still in my first year of marriage to the love of my life, and I'm getting my dream education at a university I've always wanted to go to. Happy circumstances seem to fill up every corner of my life.

But I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect. And in an effort to continue to strive toward more complete happiness, I've decided to try a Happiness Project of my own.

So, I've planned out my Year of Joy, what each month's focus is going to be, and I've written my ten Personal Commandments. However, I won't force myself to stick strictly to my plan for each month, or even my focus. If I feel that there's something more important for me to work on, I'll free myself to change the plan. This is a period of tremendous change in my life and things are pretty variable. As a newly-married college student, almost anything could happen in the next year. But no matter what happens, I will always be able to work on being happier, and so that's what I'm going to do.

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