October’s Happiness Project is all about Paying Attention. Mindfullness. This is something that I need to work on because at times, I tend to zone out. I’m too consumed on what is happening around me, my mind retaliates therefore, I float. I’m everywhere. My mind is wandering off somewhere despite my body standing still. Have your ever felt that way too?
This month’s Happiness Project will allow us to prepare ourselves for the holiday rush. As early as November, I can feel the stress the holidays bring- traffic, so many events and gatherings, and so many things to do. It all seem endless to me.
The happiness tasks for this month are:
Meditate on koans.
Examine True Rules.
Stimulate the mind in new ways.
Keep a food diary.
MEDITATE ON KOANS
What is mindfulness?
According to GR, it is the cultivation of conscious, nonjudgemental awareness.
Multitasking I believe counters mindfulness. When we try to do a lot of things all at the same time, we tend to get pulled away from the present experience. I am very OC when it comes to finishing and accomplishing my tasks for the day. I want them done even though I’m dead tired. It gives me a sense of accomplishment upon doing so. That’s why I know in my heart that I am not that mindful especially on the little things and even at moments when I know I could’ve been.
It’s so creepy that I can totally (as in) relate to Gretchen Rubin. There were times that I feel like I was on auto pilot, doing things because I know I need to, then suddenly I had this sensation that I was traipsing from point A to point B even though I didn’t even move a muscle. It was unnerving. I needed to pay attention.
One highly effective way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. Buddhists are expert on this and use it as a spiritual exercise. But if you’re like GR & I who find meditation unappealing, then try meditating on koans. A koan is a statement or question that cannot be understood logically. According to GR, Zen Buddhist monks meditate on koans as a way to abandon dependence on reason in their pursuit of enlightenment.
Two hands clap and there is no sound. What is the sound of one hand?
If you meet Buddha, kill him.
These two are some of the most famous koans that I have come to “memorize”.
Personally, when I feel stressed and burdened with so much things to do and thoughts to think through, I try to meditate on these koans:
When you can do nothing, what can you do?
What is the colour of wind?
When the many are reduced to one, to what is the one reduced?
EXAMINE TRUE RULES
Heuristics according to GR are mental rules of thumb, the quick, common sense principles you apply to solve a problem or make a decision.
Recognition heuristic: If you are faced with two objects and you recognize one and don’t recognize the other, you assume that the recognised one is of higher value. If you’ve heard of Munich but haven’t heard of Minden, you assume that Munich is the larger German city.
Availability heuristic: People predict the likelihood of an event based on how easily they can come up with an example. The vividness of an example can sometimes makes an event seem more likely than it actually is. Take GR’s example: Her friend is hyper vigilant about not eating anything that might contain raw eggs because her aunt got salmonella twenty-five years ago.
Aminin, we tend to do availability heuristics most of the time just because we know of an example, we correlate it and we tend to think it may happen to us.
Gretchen Rubin made her own idiosyncratic collection of principles which she called “True Rules”. These help her make decisions and set priorities when it matters.
GR’s True Rules:
My children are my most important priority.
Get some exercise every day.
“Yes” comes right away, “no” never comes.
Get some work done every day.
The first two struck me because these have been my True Rules ever since I became a mother. These constantly linger on my mind. Whenever I had to debate on what to do, I also go back to my values and true rules. My children are my most important priority and that I need to get some exercise every day.
Now, I’m sharing a few of my True Rules:
Be happy for someone in order to be happy for yourself.
Pain demands to be felt. (I got this from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars book)
Always get the job done.
Being nice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say “no”.
I am grateful, therefore I am lucky.
Don’t ever scrimp on food.
Cut people some slack but know your threshold.
Choose to be the better person, always.
It’s the flaw that makes something uniquely perfect.
I have so much more, but these are the True Rules that I apply almost every day. It helps to have your own True Rules as a constant guide when you have a hard time deciding or when you’re uncertain of what to do.
STIMULATE THE MIND IN NEW WAYS
There are many ways to stimulate the mind. A good conversation, indulging in a reading time, and the occasional mind training, which some you can do with an app. If you were to ask me what stimulates my mind the most, it would have to be reading. I like reading. It helps me learn new words and improve my writing. But the one-way feel of it isn’t as stimulating as having a good conversation.
Lately I’ve been in the mood to resuscitate my love for working out. Dead tired as I am with chores and taking care of my kids all by my lonesome the whole day, I still try to work out even if it means working out at ten o’clock in the evening. You may think that working out is only good for your body then you’re wrong, it’s also good for your mind. For me, it helps stimulate my mind as I run, I filter my thoughts, think about things that really matter or sometimes just indulge in the process of zoning out.
Apart from this, I’ve recently learned to appreciate my silly conversations with my kids. As I observe them, I notice that they do have different ways and means to communicate, especially my one year old lil’ Mr. GJG. It baffles me up to now to think that a young beautiful mind has learned how to express his emotions with just a few vowels and sounds. Paying attention to the basic means of communication has amazed me in more ways than one. As weird as it sounds, I keep on anticipating my “talk time” with my kids because they do say the cutest things. They make me come up with stories and replies that are witty, fun yet understandable.
KEEP A FOOD DIARY
According to the Happiness Project book, studies show that merely being conscious of eating makes people eat more healthfully, and one way to encourage yourself to eat more mindfully.
I agree on this as I technically have a mental food diary, but now I’m more eager to write it down even on my phone just to make it legit. When I had just given birth to Gabbie, I had a hard time shedding the baby weight that I got this app where I had to write down what I eat and it will count the calories for me. It was effective for me because I was conscious as to what I eat and how I can eat more healthier. I even shared a few tips on how to lose or maintain your ideal weight. I think keeping a food diary is essential if you want to be healthy and if you’re healthy, you tend to be more happy.
This month’s tasks are fun to do and easy too! I’m down to my last two months. So far, so happy! 🙂