Where Logic Meets Love

Happiness Commandments, cont.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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Aaaaaand we're back!

(As a reminder, here's last week's post with my first six commandments.)

Still with me? Here are the other six.

7. Don't let fun become a chore
This is going to be a guiding principle for my resolutions. If I identify things that make me happy or that I find fun, I can easily see me forcing myself to do those things to a point that it is not enjoyable and therefore counterproductive. For example, I have been in love with the game Set since the third grade and recently downloaded an app for my iPad. I was playing it at lunch today and thought, "I should do this more often. Not check e-mail or think about work, just play a game I enjoy." But I resisted the urge to make it a resolution because I know that if I actually required myself to play a game, I would immediately stop enjoying it.

8. Count your blessings
One of the coping methods I use when I'm impatient -- for example, I'm walking through the icy morning wind and the train station is still 200 feet away -- is counting backwards. It helps me deal because I'm telling my brain, "It's OK, we'll be there in 30 seconds." The problem is that I suck at estimating and so it's just as likely I'll still be in the icy cold when I get to zero. So in an effort to infuse more gratitude into my life, I decided that counting my blessings could be both a guiding principle and a literal commandment. I start thinking through all the things I'm grateful for, and I always make it to the station before I run out of things to be grateful for.

9. Hold your tongue
This is a funny one because I'm actually a relatively quiet person. When I was younger I used to be really bossy, loud, and annoying. Then one day -- I'm not even making this up -- I realized that I didn't have to respond to everything other people said. This prevented me from continually saying obnoxious and sarcastic things off the top of my head. And just like that I became one of the quiet ones.

There are still situations, though, where I need to learn to shut up. I have a tendency to correct people and/or talk over them if they are telling someone a story that involved both of us -- or just me, and I told it to them -- and they get something wrong. I jump in and correct them and finish the story. But I realized that I suck at telling stories too. I need to just shut up and let them tell the story wrong and in all likelihood the punchline will still be just as funny.

10. Assume mistakes
I need to double-check everything, even if I did it myself and even if I was super-careful and don't think I made any mistakes. I do my best self-proofreading when I go into it assuming that there's a mistake somewhere and trying to find the mistake. I could use a little more humility about my work up front so I'm not humiliated by someone else finding my mistakes later on.

11. Identify the problem
This is one I stole from Gretchen, and it's brilliantly simple. I spent all last winter complaining about how cold it is on my floor at work, and how many of us wear our coats all day and people have space heaters even though they're not supposed to, etc. This year, I shut up (see #9) and did something about it. Through a combination of gift cards I'd been saving and Amazon credit from the online surveys I do, I bought myself some high-quality baselayer garments, additional long-sleeved T-shirts to wear under my sweaters, thick tights, and some convertible mittens/fingerless gloves that I love. I also had the problem that I was drinking tea to stay warm, but I hated the tea at work and it made me feel sick after more than one cup. So I bought a big box of decaf Lipton tea bags -- the only kind of tea I really actually like -- and a bottle of honey and brought 'em to work with me. Problem solved.

12. There is only love
This is the final one I took from Gretchen's list. It presents, at least for me, an unattainable ideal, but it's a reminder of what everyone should be striving for. No complaining. No gossiping. No badmouthing. A perspective that everyone has something good to offer and we should only focus on that good. There is no acceptable way to treat another person except love. This is a tough one, but I think even a little improvement, just from having this phrase in my head, will go a long way.

Two other notes for this week:

1. Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary has a fabulous post about what being "open to life" means and how it differs from the Quiverfull philosophy, which is how I hear a lot of NFP-practicing folks talk about NFP. I think she explains it a lot more eloquently than I've been able to in my previous posts.

2. Jennifer also created a tool called the Saint's Name Generator so you can randomly select a saint to study for the year. It picked for me St. Vitus. When I first saw the list of his patronage*, I was actually pretty amused, and when I read about him on Wikipedia, my reaction was kind of, "WTF?" (Great thing to say about a saint, huh?) Because it seems like most of his notoriety comes not from anything he actually did but because people used to dance in front of his statue, and apparently the dancing became associated with a neurological disorder that was nicknamed "St. Vitus' Dance." And at first I thought this was a terrible saint to meditate on for a year because I saw no connection to my own life, but then I realized that every single time I thought about him and his patronage(s?), I laughed. What better saint for the year of the happiness project?

*Actors; Against Animal Attacks; Against Lightning; Against Oversleeping; Against Rheumatic Chorea; Against Snake Bites; Against Storms; Comedians; Czech Republic; Dancers; Dogs; Epileptics


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