So, voila! I received enthusiastic responses from everyone I emailed, and we met for the first time in December. Believe it or not, we got ten of the 12 of us to find a common open time in our pre-holiday frenzy, and initiated our group with some wine, snacks, and really great conversation in my living room. We talked about Personal Commandments (ideas that, if we followed, would make us happier) and Secrets of Adulthood (concepts that we’ve learned as we’ve become full-fledged grownups; my favorite is one of Gretchen’s: “Bring a sweater.”). At the end of the evening, I felt a greater sense of connection to this small community we were forming, and we were all released to plan our coming month or so of happiness-creating resolutions.
Interestingly, while I was intrigued by everyone else’s plans for January, I found that my theme of “work,” with accompanying resolutions, was feeling more like a task-list than a happiness-inspirer. Halfway through the month, I admitted failure, decided to scratch January’s plan, and re-frame it as an exploration month. Lesson learned: failure does not mean defeat, and it’s good for us/me. As someone who does not generally take kindly to not doing something well the first time I try, this is an extremely difficult lesson to learn. But here’s the greater lesson: starting a Happiness Project has already made me happier. Could it be that turning my attention to being happier, even without perfect success, is more important than actually meeting the goals I set for myself? Hmm, mindfulness. It creeps in everywhere.
To happiness! And mindfulness! And uniquely wonderful female neighbors!
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Dr. Amanda Mulfinger is the Owner and President of Cabot Psychological Services in Edina, Minnesota. She studied psychology at Harvard University prior to receiving her master's degree and PhD from Auburn University.
I recently read “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin (which I highly recommend, by the by), and (as you may be starting to see, often happens when I read books) I was highly motivated by it. In the book, the author runs with the idea that, although she’s not unhappy, she could be happier. And like
any classic Type A personality, she decides to devote some serious time and attention to the project of making herself happier.
Not being Type A myself, I was still struck by the idea that I could do this, too. And possibly even learn a few things that could be helpful for myself (or my clients) along the way. So, armed with the knowledge that friendship and social interaction are two of the things that make me happiest, I decided to form a Happiness Project in my neighborhood. I decided that this would be a “girls only” thing, perhaps because women tend to be more into these kinds of things, and also because I think my block has a uniquely wonderful group of women, whom I would like to know better.