Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Chapter 4. Lighten Up. Parenthood.
Quotes and my notes
Children are a tremendous source of happiness.
Just like Gretchen, my kids are a huge source of my happiness. They’re so much fun. Soccer games and softball games and zillions of practices. I enjoy the in-between times with them too. Driving to the grocery store and chatting about stuff. Sometimes I slip in big stuff like college majors or career ideas, during innocuous times, such as morning carpools or eating ice cream cones on the way home from the Home Depot.
Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes. Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don’t really seem to bring much happiness at all – yet somehow they do.
Fog happiness is a way to describe the wonderful mundane. Fog happiness comes from doing little things that by themselves are not that great, but as a whole project or effect are a bigger source of happiness. Having children and all the things that pertain to having them are part of the fog that brings the joy of having kids. It’s hard to put a finger on it.
Sing in the Morning
In a family, it’s worth the effort to find ways to get mornings running smoothly, because while mornings set the tine for everyone’s days, they also tend to be stressful as adults try to get themselves organized…
I saw that singing in the morning really had a cheering effect. I’d become a true believer of the “Act the way I want to feel” commandment; by acting happy, I made myself feel happy.
I concur with Gretchen. Mornings are tough and anything we can do to smooth them out is worth every penny. I have found that waking up early, breaks the awful rushed. I tend to get up before dawn and go running or swimming or to the gym in the morning. However, on the days that I don’t work out in the morning, I like to wake the kids with a gentle pat and kiss on the forehead. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, “Singin’ in the Rain”. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. My mom and I watched all the old musicals every summer night on channel 5. Busby Berkeley movies were my favorite. I loved watching the tap dancing and big production numbers.
Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings
Rubin refers to two books: Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Elaine Mazlish.
In other words, don’t deny feelings such as anger, irritation, fear, or reluctance; instead, articulate the feeling and the other person’s point of view. Sounds simple, right? Wrong, I had no idea how often I contradicted my children’s assertions of their feelings until I tried to quite. Too often, I said things like “You’re not afraid of clowns,” “You can’t possibly want more Legos, you never play with the ones you have”…
I’m actually pretty good at this one. I can recognize the feelings in my family. It took me a while to train my wife and kids, but they’re pretty good at this too. It’s easy to identify when someone else is grumpy. It’s still pretty hard to admit that you’re the grumpy one.
Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories
I realized the tremendous value of mementos that help prompt positive memories. Studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present. When people reminisce, they focus on positive memories, with the result that recalling the past amplifies the positive and minimizes the negative. However, because people remember events better when they fit with their present mood, happy people remember happy events better, and depressed people remember sad events better. Depressed people have as many nice experiences as other people – they just don’t recall them as well.
I’m unusually blessed with a bad short term memory. I count my blessings. Bad memories fade. I intentionally focus on remembering the good ones and keep those fresh and alive.
I recognize that I’m the family reporter, but I’ve taken action to work myself out of that job. I like to take pictures with my iPhone. My daughter has picked that up too. I taught her how to use Picasa app and Shutterfly.com to make vacation albums. When I started this blog, I have begun recording more family events.
Studies show that family traditions support children’s social development and strengthen family cohesiveness. They provide connection and predictability, which people – especially children – crave.
We have wonderful holiday traditions. We host my family for Thanksgiving. We host my wife’s family for Christmas Eve. We host a Christmas party with all the kids’ friends and families. I take a group picture every year of each of the parties. Watch the kids grow up. Watch the our cousins’ boyfriends turn to husbands.
Take Time for Projects
…key to happiness is squeezing out as much happiness as possible from the happy event.
All the trips for preparation for a birthday party or family event IS the fun. Getting all the stuff for the party IS the fun times. Dreaming about the menu and buying the ingredients IS the fun. It’s not the efficiency. Enjoy the process.
…[Projects] reconnect us with sources of “feeling good”.
I love flipping through internet blogs to find great projects to do with the kids. I love to garden, but don’t have the time. There are small projects to do with the kids.