Welcome Back for day 5 of my Happiness Project!
Yesterday, I took a look at what the psychology research and happiness experts had to say about what happiness actually means.
With the knowledge I gained from that research, today I will focus more on what happiness means to ME specifically.
My Happiness Mind Map
All that research yesterday gave me a lot to wrap my head around. So, in order to make sense of all the different ideas, theories, and formulas about happiness, I tried one of my favorite organization techniques – the mind map!
If you’ve never made a mind map before, I’d highly recommend it. Especially if you’re at all like me and find your head swimming in chaotic unorganized thoughts until you can get them down on paper, where suddenly they start making some sense.
My Happiness Equation
After making my mind map, a few main themes started to emerge for me. Happiness was important to me of course, but “healthy” also emerged as a major theme.
As I learned with my shoulder injury, it is hard to be happy if you are not also healthy – and if your physical health suffers, it is likely that your mental health may suffer to some degree as well.
Of the equations I presented from my review of the happiness research yesterday four out of 5 of the equations were for happiness, and one was for overall well-being.
After making my own mind map, I realized that what I came up with is a little more broad than happiness. Instead it is more about overall well-being.
If I had to write an equation for what I came up with in my mind map it might look something like this:
Healthy (mind + body) + Happy (pleasure + purpose) = Whole
Where here, “whole” refers to overall well being.
What’s In A Name?
Now that you’ve seen my mind map, I’d like to ask you for your help!
I feel that my project should be called something different than my “Happiness Project”. If I truly want to make it my own, I think it should have it’s own name.
Hector Garcia, author of The Ikigai Journey: A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way, encourages us to give our projects inspiring names and claims that words have power and carry magic.
His main example in the book was that instead of saying “I have to get in shape” you could instead say, “I am going to work on my vitruvian man project.” So let’s give it a try.
Based on my mind map, I have been considering the name: The Happy.Healthy.Whole Project.
But I’m still not quite sold, and would love your input! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
The 5 Areas of Focus For My Project
Now that I am a little more clear on what happiness actually means to me, I have decided which areas of my life I want my project to focus on.
In her project, Gretchen Rubin chose 11 different areas of life to focus on – one for each month January through November, and then all of them at once in December. However, on Day 2 of my Happiness Project, I decided I only wanted to focus on 5 areas of my life.
Here are those 5 areas.
#1 – Build Keystone Habits
The first area I have chosen to focus on during my project is keystone habits. A keystone habit can be thought of as the foundation on which other habits can be built.
Without these fundamental habits, it is very difficult to excel at more complex tasks like eating healthy, building a business, training for a competition, etc.
#2 – Improve Physical Health
My second area of focus is physical health, which can include fitness, nutrition, dealing with stress, and getting enough sleep.
Physical health has always been important to me, but even more so now as I am working hard to recover from a shoulder surgery.
Exercise is also one of my most important forms of stress relief, happiness, and community involvement for me (I belong to a canoe club).
#3 – Find My Calling
The third area I chose to focus on for my project is finding my calling, or what some people might call a “purpose” although I’m not fond of that term.
Mark Manson explains the concept of a calling rather well when he says:
“We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.”
The questions I hope to answer by focusing on my calling during this project are:
- What can I do with my time that is important?
- How can I spend less of my life just “killing time”.
- How can I make a difference in the world?
- In what ways can I help to improve the life of others with the skills that I have?
- What important problem can I solve for the benefit of my community?
#4 – Strengthen Relationships
One thing that happiness experts do tend to agree on, is that the quality of our relationships is one of the biggest predictors of whether or not we are happy.
So, the 4th area of focus for my project will be relationships. I will focus on all three types of relationships in my life including romantic, friendships, and family.
My goal is to strengthen the quality of the relationships in my life as well as to make more time for them.
#5 – Achieve Life Balance
The 5th and last area of my life that I will focus on during my project, is “Life Balance”.
“Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” – John Wooden
This quote really hits home for me. For the last 3 years, I have had a job that I really loved despite it often being stressful, exhausting and frustrating. Even though I liked the job, I feel like it was beginning to take over my life.
It was a very physical job, and for most of the year I worked 6 days a week at it. On my one day off I was always physically and mentally exhausted. I also always had a lot of chores to catch up on, so I never really did anything fun on my day off.
Plus, the job had black out dates. I was not allowed to request any time off at any point in the summer, from Thanksgiving until after New Years, or during the month in spring that was “spring break”.
This means I haven’t been able to get home to Washington State to see my family during the holidays in 3 years. I’ve had to miss weddings and graduations, birthdays and funerals.
Not to mention the job only gave me one week off per year and paid time off never increased from that no matter how long I worked there.
For all of these reasons, I am thinking it is time to balance out my life a little bit (or a lot).
I want to be able to:
- Be with my family for the important dates and holidays.
- Have more time to pursue my hobbies and passions.
- Have vacation time available to go on the trips and adventures that I used to.
- Actually enjoy living in Hawaii. What’s the point if I’m just working all the time?!
Now, everyone at my company has been laid off due to Covid-19 which has completely halted the tourism industry here in Hawai’i since March.
Also, in the last two-ish years, I have had two major injuries at work. First a torn hamstring, and now a shoulder which I’ve had to have surgery on.
With the tourism industry shut down, and me being unable to work anyway due to restrictions from my injury – I figure now is the time. If I want to shift my life balance, what better time to do it?
My Areas of Focus Vs. Gretchen Rubin’s
As it turns out, my areas of focus for my happiness project are quite different from those of the inventor of the happiness project.
And that’s okay! As I concluded on Day 4 of my Happiness Project – it seems like happiness looks different for everyone.
Check out the table below for a comparison of the topics of focus for the two happiness projects.
In order to pursue a happiness project, you have to first determine what happiness means to YOU, because happiness is highly individualized and looks different for everyone.
I would highly recommend using the mind mapping technique to explore and organize your thoughts. From there it will be easier to pick out what your main factors for happiness are. And then, if you’d like to, you can sum up what happiness means to you with a simple equation.
I’d love your help on naming my project! Please let me know in the comments:
- Do you like the name “The Happy.Healthy.Whole Project”?
- Can you think of a better name?
- I’m open to suggestions and would LOVE your creative input!
That’s it for today. Thanks for tuning in for day 5 of my project. I will be posting about my project every day until my birthday 21 days from today, and I would love for you to follow along!
Thanks for your support! Until tomorrow,