This one changed mine. And I don’t mean in an esoteric, it-made-me-feel-good-for-a-little-while kind of way. I mean it changed the way I function on a daily basis.
I’d always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations.
One day, I’d stop twisting my hair, and wearing running shoes all the time, and eating exactly the same food every day. I’d remember my friends’ birthdays, I’d learn Photoshop, I wouldn’t let my daughter watch TV during breakfast. I’d read Shakespeare. I’d spend more time laughing and having fun, I’d be more polite, I’d visit museums more often, I would’t be scared to drive.
One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I started out the rain-spattered window of a city bus, I saw that the years were slipping by. ‘What do I want from life, anyway?’ I asked myself. ‘Well…I want to be happy.’ But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier.
She goes on to say:
The words of the writer Colette had haunted me for years: What a wonderful ife I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner!
Count me in. I, too, live a beautiful, blessed life, and I am terrified to let one single moment pass in which I am not making the absolute most of all God has given me. Gretchen was speaking to me.
I learned so much in the year I spent with The Happiness Project, it’s difficult to decide what to highlight here. But I’ll start with the 12 Commandments I wrote for myself, following her lead. (The commandments with an * came directly from The Happiness Project. They are so powerful I simply had to adopt them. An immeasurable thanks to you, Gretchen Rubin.)
Cathy’s 12 Commandments
- Be me.*
- Identify the problem.*
- Do it now.*
- Give proofs of love.*
- Go ahead and use it.
- Find a way.
- Be present.
- Make it fun.
- Live generously.
- Do something new.
- Give thanks.
- Make room.
There is much to say about each commandment and how it has made my life (and those of my family and co-workers, no doubt!) happier, more peaceful, richer. Perhaps I will make these among my next posts. But for now, let me just encourage you to get Gretchen’s book. I can’t guarantee it will change your life the way it has mine. But I can promise it will bring a clarity to the daily and the extra special that will make it all more significant.
And isn’t that what we’re really after?
ps: The audiobook is also really good, delivered in Gretchen’s own voice. I confess I listen to it over and over, usually while I’m doing my chores.