This month’s happiness project is to contemplate the Heavens. It’s about eternity. This is quite an intriguing topic to talk about but Gretchin Rubin made it interestingly simple that a lot can relate to. Today is a special day for me as I am celebrating my birthday. This month’s happiness project, I feel is the most special for me. So allow me to insert bits and pieces of my realizations in this post. You know, it’s true, being a year older makes you get to know yourself even more and it makes you all emo too! Heehee.
The happiness project tasks for this month are:
Read memoirs of catastrophe.
Keep a gratitude notebook.
Imitate a spiritual master.
Three tasks that look easy to do no? But are they? First off, allow me to be thankful for another year full of blessings. If you’ve read my birthday post last year, I am happy to report that each year added in my life, I am more conscious and aware with who I am and what I want. Which leads me to this month’s first task.
READ MEMOIRS OF CATASTROPHE
They say in order for you to appreciate the good in your life, you first have to deal with the bad. This is true. Sometimes, when things go well, we tend to forget that all good things come to an end. I don’t want to sound nega, hello of all people I’m not one, but that is the cold hard truth. Another cold hard truth is death. Remember the post I made about death and dying? I think I have come to a point in my life where I am a little less afraid of death. My dreams about me dying is my memento mori, an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death. While GR’s memento mori is to read memoirs by people facing death. It may sound morbid and depressing but in doing so, she says she somehow feels uplifted after reading them. It gave her high appreciation on her ordinary existence. I agree. whenever I dream about death and dying, I wake up more grateful and more thankful for another day that I get to spend with my family. Ordinary days suddenly become more precious and special. Sometimes events in our lives become a memento mori.
One ordinary grocery day, we saw our uncle (from Mr. GJG’s side) with his wife. Just like any other day that we’d bump into them, we stopped for a little chit chat and our usual quick round up of the latest happenings in our lives. He even played with lil’ Mr. GJG for a few good seconds. He was happy, cheerful and full of life. Never would it cross my mind that it would be the last time we would see him alive. A few days after, we received a call from his family that he passed. We were shocked. I was shocked. I was shaking and upset because I couldn’t believe it. It was a phone call that changed the ordinary. It was a wake up call that made us realize that life indeed is short. So you see, it doesn’t have to be a memoir of a catastrophe. You can find and figure out your own memento mori so you can be reminded of the ordinary things and not take it for granted.
KEEP A GRATITUDE NOTEBOOK
According to The Happiness Project book, research shows that our happiness is influenced by whether we compare ourselves to people who are better or worse off. It’s a matter of I’m glad I’m not or I wish I was. Aminin, if we compare ourselves to those better off than us, we get sad and depressed. But if we compare ourselves to those who are worse off than we are, we are grateful.
What is gratitude you ask? It is the quality of being thankful. The readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. There are times that we are too caught up with all the things we think matter that we seldom show appreciation of the little things in life. A hug, a kiss, a home, food, quiet time, electricity, Wi-Fi (uy aminin!) and all the other things we have. We tend to only appreciate them the moment we don’t have them na. Am I right or am I right?
I’ve practiced writing a sentence or two of gratitude every chance I get. If I don’t have my gratitude notebook with me, I write it on my phone. It’s a nice reminder and a way to be grounded too. You can also write your favorite inspirational quotes to remind you. Here are two of the many quotes that have become my mantras in life.
I realized that writing on my gratitude notebook everyday can get tiring, so I do it instead at least once a week. There are other ways to cultivate gratitude. GR decided to do some “gratitude meditation”. Instead of writing it down, she thought and meditated during down times such as waiting in line, driving in traffic, while riding the elevator and so on. I find I’m actually doing gratitude meditation even before I read the book. Oftentimes while I shower, I drive my daughter to and from school and while I wait in line. If writing doesn’t work for you, try meditating gratitude instead.
IMITATE A SPIRITUAL MASTER
During trying times, I would often remember people who live by Catholic faith ask “what would Jesus do?” It’s not about religion you know. But religion or having something to believe in can help you achieve happiness in your life. Whatever belief you have that makes you think and act as a better person, is always a good thing. So third and final task for this month is to imitate a spiritual master. Dalai Lama immediately popped in my mind. He is also more often than not, quoted whenever adversity, trials and challenges come to one. Often times, we relate to spiritual masters or those we find have perfected the ways of the good. Oprah Winfrey, Mother Theresa, even authors who have deep thoughts on life, we always like to quote. Why? Because we like the that they’re human. That the deeds they’ve done are not far to attain and are doable if we really want to.
Aside from the quotes of Dalai Lama that I try so eagerly to remember and apply in my everyday life, I also have my daily source of wisdom from Tiny Buddha. It is a site that collects and shares stories from people from all walks of life. It is a site run by Lori Deschene where you can find tips about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, mindfulness, and letting go. I’m subscribed to it via email and let me tell you, I’m hooked. It’s like a therapist I never had. Seriously. Most of the time the featured story and topic of the day feels like it was meant for me and me alone! Kinda weird I know but I love that it gives me a sense of assurance that whatever situation I’m in, it is because of a purpose that will be revealed in time.
Now that I’ve read this month’s task, I’m adding another spiritual master on my list, St. Therese. I was influenced by GR and moved by how simple St. Therese is in many ways. What struck me the most is how she enthusiastically lived to be happy in all days of her life. Her family and even her co-nuns thought she didn’t suffer at all, even when she had tuberculosis. She practiced the kind of unswerving enthusiasm. It looks easy but believe me it’s not. As I said in my previous happiness project, sometimes I act happy and enthusiastic on days when I feel unhappy. I tell you it’s quite tiring to sound and be all giddy, gleeful and perky especially when you have kids who keenly watch you. But you know what, it works.
I like St. Therese na because she proved that you don’t have to do great things in order to do good. It’s in the simplest, little things in life that sometimes make a big difference. She also showed that it is possible to befriend a person you dislike. Truly, she has shown that things can be done in simplicity. Which is actually a perfect reminder in my life right now. I’m somewhat caught up in the idea that grand gestures are always the way to go. St. Therese made me understand that I need not to look further, I need not to step outside my home to learn that what I have now is exactly my eat-pray-love moment.
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
Today I am thankful for another year that I get to spend with my loved ones. That I am healthy, that I am living a comfortable life and that I get to do things that I love doing. This year, I have also realized that simplicity indeed is the way to go. And with this happiness project, I have proven a theory that I’ve been testing for quite a few months now. I have proven that money alone couldn’t buy my own happiness. Sure it’s liberating to have spending power and to be able to buy and afford whatever luxury your heart desires. But I have tested that buying things, especially those that are on my wish list won’t necessarily make me happy, long term. How did I prove so?
During the typhoon Maring, I couldn’t care less of what earthly things I have. This even prompted me to purge and rummage through our house for things we don’t need nor use. Should an emergency happen, I was willing to let go of everything just so I can save my family. OA ba? No. That was my realization. Whether I get something that I want or not, it wouldn’t matter. Because at the end of each and every day of my life, all I ever ask Him is to keep my family safe, to have a peaceful mind and a steady heart. Icing on the cake na lang the material things I would receive, which I will openly accept. Heehee. Wait, is this me really writing all this? Hay, I am getting old. More mature in what I want and what is valuable in life. Lolabells na ko, am I beginning to sound boring? Hindi naman, medyo na-enlighten lang ako so pagbigyan nyo na.
Happiness is having contentment in your life.
Thank you God for another year full of blessings!
Excited to pick my blog anniversary winners. Thank you to everyone who joined and thank you for supporting my blog. Wait for my post tomorrow, something exciting is happening.
Cheers to more years for me! Thank you for all the well wishes mga friendships! Now off to lil’ Mr. GJG’s first birthday party.