Welcome back for day 7 of my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project which is based on Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.
So far, in this project, I have:
- Reviewed the research about what happiness is.
- Adapted Gretchen Rubin’s project to make it my own.
- Decided what happiness means to me and chose which parts of my life I will work on in my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project.
Today, I will make some rules to help guide my behavior as I work through my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project over the coming months.
The 10 Commandments
I think most everyone, religious or not, has likely heard of the 10 commandments.
They are a set of rules or laws that Moses received from God, and appear in the bible, not once, but twice. These commandments are important in the christian, as well as jewish religions.
The simplified version of the original commandments are as follows:
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor thy father and mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
As you can see, the purpose of these commandments are to give us guidance about how to behave – specifically with regards to ethics and worship.
Gretchen Rubin’s Commandments
In her happiness project, Gretchen Rubin came up with her own set of personal commandments – 12 to be exact.
The commandments that she wrote for her project, were more about how she wanted to behave in her day-to-day, everyday life.
Gretchen’s 12 Commandments:
- Be Gretchen.
- Let it go.
- Act the way I want to feel.
- Do it now.
- Be polite and be fair.
- Enjoy the process.
- Spend out.
- Identify the problem.
- Lighten up.
- Do what ought to be done.
- No calculation.
- There is only love.
Think of these commandments as little reminders to herself about how she wants to live her life.
The 10 Commandments For My Healthy.Happy.Whole Project
I loved the idea of making my own commandments, to be able to write the rules that I wanted to live my life by. So I gave it a shot! Here they are:
1 – Be Clarissa
This one obviously draws direct inspiration from Gretchen’s first commandment. I think that everyone could benefit from a commandment like this.
For me it’s especially relevant, because for a lot of my younger life, I was a big time people pleaser.
Now, looking back, I think all the time I spent trying to fit in and make other people happy really held me back. Not only with respect to being happy, but in terms of me actually knowing who I was as a person.
So in the last few years I have really made it a focus of mine, to just be me. If people don’t like me, if I don’t fit in, that’s okay. No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone.
I like myself better when I’m not trying to be someone else, and that is what matters most.
2 – Don’t Wait For It, Work For It
While I am a big believer that patience is a virtue (one that I find very challenging more often than not… ), I don’t agree with the saying, “Good things come to those who wait.”
Waiting implies being passive, but we can’t just wait for good things to fall into our laps. It doesn’t really work that way – I’ve tried.
For example, if you read my last post about my happiness epiphany, for years I just kept doing what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing, and thinking that if I deserved it, happiness would come my way.
But surprise! It didn’t. It wasn’t until I actively started prioritizing my happiness and making time in my schedule for the things that made me happy, that I started feeling happier.
And I think this lesson applies to most things in life. If we really want them we can’t just sit back and wait for them to happen, we have to actively seek them out."Patience without action leads to a passive life. Patience with perseverance leads to us fulfilling our goals." – Hector Garcia Click To Tweet
3 – Progress Not Perfection
This is one of my major mantras in life. I have always been a hardcore perfectionist, and when I was younger, believe it or not, that was actually a trait that I valued in myself.
But now, as I’ve gotten a little older, I realized that it’s really been holding me back. When I was responding to a comment on one of my blog post’s earlier this week, someone wrote something that really hit home for me.
They said that perfectionism was the destroyer of happiness – and I think that they were 100% correct.
How many times have I worked hours, or weeks, or months on something only to have finally finished it and felt like I still wasn’t happy with it?
How many times has someone complimented me on something and I just brushed it off, saying it was no big deal and not giving myself any credit?
How many times have I not done something or took much longer to do something than I should have because of this perfectionism?
If I am being honest, probably more times than I can count…
This is something that I have been working on for several years now – and it’s still something I have to remind myself of almost on a daily basis.
Actually, one of the reasons that I have decided to take on this challenge of writing 25 blog posts in 25 days, is to force myself to get past that perfectionism in my writing.
So far, I’ve got to say that it’s helping! Wish me luck for the next 18 days!"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." – Confucius Click To Tweet
4 – Choose Happiness
The reason I chose this commandment is to remind myself that it is my choice whether I want to be happy or unhappy.
I may not be able to control the things that happen to me in life, but I can choose how I react to them. And as I learned on day 4 of my project,
Research shows that:
- 50% of happiness is determined by our genetics (nothing we can do about this).
- 10% of happiness is determined by our circumstances (which we can influence to some degree).
- And 40% of our happiness is determined by our behaviors. (I can control my behavior!)
So this commandment is to help remind me to make choices in my life that prioritize my happiness.
5 – Start Before You Feel Ready
I have a terrible habit of thinking that I am not ready to take on challenges that I want to. Maybe it’s imposter syndrome, maybe it’s that perfectionism, but either way, it’s holding me back.
What I often find myself doing instead of taking action is spending lots of time making plans and reading and researching. This is good to an extent – you want to know what you’re getting into, but there is such a thing as too much planning.“Planning is good… But if you spend all your time planning without making progress, try doing something instead.” – Chris Guillebeau Click To Tweet
Plus, I know that I learn best by doing, so I need to just get started, and be willing to learn as I go.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
6 – Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway
This commandment has to do with stepping out of my comfort zone. I wrote a whole post recently on how to make a habit out of stepping out of your comfort zone – check it out!
I feel that I am really good at stepping out of my comfort zone in certain aspects of my life, but in others – for example, in social situations, I need a lot of work on it.
A lot of people will tell you not to be afraid, but I think it is okay to acknowledge our fears, so long as we don’t let them hold us back.“Embracing new things often requires us to embrace our fears, however trivial they may seem. You deal with fear not by pretending it doesn't exist, but by refusing to give it decision-making authority.” – Chris Guillebeau Click To Tweet
7 – Don’t Worry About Things You Can’t Control
For most of my life I have been a constant worrier. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because of all the “what if” scenarios I was running through my head.
And then one day, I read the following quote and realized how true it really was.“Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” -Erma Bombeck Click To Tweet
These days, there is definitely a lot to worry about, but I try to focus my energy and thoughts on the ones that I can control. If nothing else, it keeps me distracted from obsessing about what I can’t control.
8 – Be Kind, Always (Yourself Included)
I of course think it is very important to be kind to everyone whenever possible. This world would be a much better place if everyone could do that.
However, this commandment is here mostly to remind me to be kind to myself. Years ago, I used to be my own worst critic – and it didn’t get me anywhere.
These days I have realized that I should treat myself with the same kindness and forgiveness that I would treat someone else with.
9 – One Thing At A Time
I am a terrible multitasker. Most people are, and I know this, and yet I still try to multitask.
Throughout this project, I am going to work hard to focus all my effort on the task at hand first, and then, only when it’s done, move onto the next.
I will also try not to take on too many projects at once, so that the things I do take on can have my full attention.
10 – Keep Moving Forward
One thing that I have learned about myself over the years is that I quickly become unhappy if I feel that my life has stagnated.
This is mostly true when it comes to personal growth. If I am not challenging myself, if I am not trying new things, or working on a project, or towards a goal, I feel very restless and frustrated.“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein Click To Tweet
The purpose of the original Biblical commandments was to give us guidelines about how we should behave, particularly with respect to worship and ethics.
I have written my own set of commandments that are meant to help guide my day to day behaviors as I work on my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project.
My 10 Commandments:
- Be Clarissa.
- Don’t wait for it, work for it.
- Progress not perfection.
- Choose happiness.
- Start before you feel ready.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
- Be kind always (yourself included).
- One thing at a time.
- Keep moving forward.
Food For Thought: If you were to write your own commandments, what would they be?
Thank you so much for following the first week of my Happy.Healthy.Whole Project! If you’d like to catch up on any of the other days, you can do so here.
And remember, I’ll be posting about it here every day in October if you’d like to follow along.