Many of you are readers of the Happiness Project blog (or books). Gretchen talks about creating a happiness toolkit: activities/strategies that you know boost your happiness. One of the fun parts of reading her books is attempting to copy from her toolkit, just like the fun part of Pinterest is attempting to copy other people’s closet layouts. Anyway, here are a few of my discoveries of things that boost my mood:
* My “Life with Little Ones” journal. I started keeping a very occasional journal of cute things the kids did. It’s just a word document on my computer, so it’s easy to read back through old entries. I’d forgotten how long ago I started this, so I got a kick to read what Sam was doing when he was Ruth’s age. Today’s entry? Jasper got crayon on one of the living room chairs. He apologized, but then told me rather solemnly that “mistakes are part of living.” It’s so funny, but I wouldn’t remember it without writing it down.
* My “Best Summer Ever” journal. In the same vein as the idea before. This summer I kept a one-sentence journal of something enjoyable or memorable that happened every day. Reading back through it in September, I realized that it really was one hell of a summer. I was interviewed by Matt Lauer, and judged a pie-baking contest. Hard to see how next summer will top that, but since I intend to also call next summer’s journal “Best Summer Ever,” I guess I’ll try!
* Random fan mail. I’m trying to be better about keeping it in one place so I can read back through it if feeling ineffectual. I love a good ego stroking. Reading Amazon reviews has the exact opposite result, so I’m trying to avoid them.
* Going for a ramble. Regular readers know I love running. Sometimes I like to add a random exploratory aspect to it. Yesterday, I went for my normal loop through a park, then just walked through the woods farther, enjoying the beautiful autumn trees, the mud, the sound of running water.
* Sneaky during-the-day excursions. Part of working at home is developing the discipline to report to work, day after day, even if no one can see what you’re doing. So I mostly work during work hours. But oh, is it exciting to play hooky once in a while and go to a museum or (gasp!) shopping.
* Eating out. I do this rarely enough that it always seems like a treat. Even eating at Ruby’s Diner with the kids. Speaking of which, taking the kids out to eat turns out to be a great way to make a long evening go faster. I was all proud of myself, walking into Ruby’s Diner last week with a baby on my hip and two small boys walking obediently through the door when I saw a father who had not three but four small children with him (and him solo) in Ruby’s. So he wins the prize.
* Coffee in the morning, wine at night.
* Curling up with a magazine. I was going to say a “brainless” magazine but one of my favorite reads is The Economist. I don’t think they’d like being called brainless. I also enjoy magazines from years past. I feel they offer good insight on what people were thinking at that time. Fortune has been sending me some stories from the archives to write about, which has been fun. The most recent one was a 1954 William Whyte (“Organization Man”) essay on “How Hard do Executives Work?” Sneak preview: people have always thought that they’re working harder than anyone in the past. The upwardly-mobile have always brought work home and people have always complained about meetings and said they get their real work done during non-work hours.
* Listening to my favorite choral music. I haven’t done this in a while, and it reminds me that I should. For a while in college I was obsessed with the Bach B-Minor Mass. I sang Brahms’ Requiem a few times. Then there is, of course, the utter ecstasy of the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. It transports you elsewhere, every single time.
What’s in your happiness toolkit?
In other news:
The Guardian excerpts Hannah Rosin’s The End of Men — a chapter on Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, et al, and how women in tech may show the way forward for other industries. (Hat tip to reader Nicola for sending)
I have a post at Fortune.com on Stop Checking Your Email, Now.
The Frugal Girl has a series going on simplifying Christmas.
Wealthy Single Mommy has a post on outsourcing laundry.
I disabled comments on posts from more than 3 weeks ago. I’d been slammed with spam — with bots posting 4-5 times an hour for days on end — and I got tired of wasting my time deleting it. Please read archived posts! And if you want to comment, you can email me.
Photo courtesy flickr user ResinMuse