Starting a happiness project is all the easier when someone does the legwork for you. Freed from having to think too much about it, it was easy to get started on January's theme of self-knowledge by picking up a handful of suggestions from Gretchen and throwing in a couple resolutions of my own.
The idea behind starting the year-long project with the theme of self-knowledge was to get closer to identifying the things that make *me*, Jodi Elliott, happy. The more insight I have into myself, the better I can arrange a year's worth of resolutions that are actually meaningful to me—not stock platitudes or goals that meet some outer "should", but concrete actions that will help me to manifest my me into the world, whatever that looks like at 41 with three kids (!!!) and a husband and a life in the Pacific Northwest.
So what are the actions that I thought would bring the most insight into myself for this journey of happiness?
I found that a mix of do-it-every-day resolutions and one-time projects was ideal for me. Things that I could use every day as anchors to give structure to my days and mark the passing of time (has time even passed in the last year?), and things that I've been wanting to do but haven't bothered or allowed myself to, all of which might possibly lead to more insight into myself. Here they are, from daily actions to one-hit wonders, and why I chose them:
- Journal/freewrite for 10 minutes every morning(ish). I started with a list of 3 things I was grateful for, 3 things that had gone well the day before, 3 things that would make that day go well, and then moved my pen over the rest of the page for about 8 more minutes.
- Go for a walk or do yoga for (at least) 10 minutes every day. Do I even need to use words to tell you why this is a great idea?
- No TV, movies, Netflix, HBO, etc. at night. I'd just finished bingeing Schitt's Creek (does two episodes a night count as "bingeing"?), and realized that if I didn't watch it every single night, I might be able to do something else with that time.
- Write a list every day. But not a to-do list! Just....a list. Of anything it might occur to me to write a list about.
- Take all the major personality quizzes recommended by Gretchen. So: Myer's-Briggs, Enneagram, Gretchen's own Four Tendencies, Love Languages, and the Big Five. I probably took some other ones in there, too. (I drew the line at FB quizzes, though: a girl's gotta have standards).
- Create a space to be: redecorate the study. We have a study, I don't spend time there...why not? How can I make it an attractive space where I want to spend time, and that sparks joy?
- Go on a guided psilocybin journey. Yeah, that's right. I read Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind on a whim, and his meticulous reporting and personal experience inspired me to give psychedelics a shot.
There were a handful of resolutions that might also be obvious to try, but that didn't suit me right now, like meditating every day or getting up before everyone else in the morning for a few moments of quiet. Gretchen also suggested making a list of 21 things to do in 2021, but I started the list and abandoned it because the process wasn't resonating with me at all. The thing about a happiness project is that you've got to ditch all the stuff that doesn't work for you and drop all the shoulds.
My next post will get into how it went, but I'm curious to know: what resolutions would you set if you were going to spend a month focusing on self-knowledge? What actions could you take every day to either learn more about yourself or connect with yourself? What bigger one-time actions could you take to enhance your self-knowledge? I'm always curious to hear what others find to be helpful for sparking insight into themselves.
Note: eventually I'll get beyond all the posts about the happiness project, but right now having this frame is helping me to get into the habit of sitting down to write regularly. That, and I find it interesting.
Photo by Ian Keefe.