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Becoming Happier With Personal Commandments

Becoming Happier With Personal Commandments

Happiness is a topic near and dear to my heart and the Happiness Project blog by Gretchen Rubin is a frequent source of inspiration, with plenty of food for thought and lots of actionable tips to create a personal path to happiness.

When I first discovered the Happiness Project, one of the first things I read was Gretchen’s Personal Happiness Commandments. At that point in time, I was unhappy because I lacked clarity on what made me happy and was pursuing other people’s definition of happiness. So, I found it inspiring to see that she was so clear and unapologetic, about what happiness meant to her. However, it never occurred to me to write my own personal happiness commandments, until I read one of her follow-up posts, Be Happier, Write Your Own Set of Personal Commandments. (Duh!)

Gretchen’s tips on writing personal commandments for happiness are simple:
1. Consider phrases that have stuck with you
2. Aim high and fight the urge to be too comprehensive
3. Think about what’s true for you

Armed with those tips I went about putting together my own Happiness Commandments. And here’s the list I came up with (in no particular order).

1. Be Eu Geen
Inspired by Gretchen’s Be Gretchen, and the Anna Quinlen and Oriah Mountain Dreamer quotes “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself” and “The question is not why are you so infrequently the people you really want to be but why do you so infrequently want to be the people you really are.”

This is the simplest, yet the hardest commandment, because I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting to be someone other than who I am.

2. Practice for the sake of practice
This phrase stuck with me after reading George Leonard’s Mastery. As someone hooked on quick results, I have never practiced for the sake of practice long enough to achieve the kind of Mastery that I admire in others and always longed for.

3. Don’t start the day in a hurry
Something that is just true for me. There is nothing I hate more than having to jump out of bed and rush off for an appointment. It’s something really small, but makes a big difference in how I feel about the day.

4. Plan my day
I find that if I don’t plan out my day in advance I tend to get distracted by non-important activities (like Facebook). Planning my day allows me to use my time purposefully doing work that is important to me, which makes me happy.

5. Have nothing in my life that is not beautiful or useful
Inspired by the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. I enjoy beauty. It makes me happy to be surrounded by it. That’s probably why I like visiting Japan and Bali where beauty is incorporated into the everyday. My practical, logical side used to override this love of beauty by getting me to purchase the sensible, cheaper, not-so-beautiful option. These days, I’d rather pay a little more for the option that makes my heart sing, because, it is possible to buy little bits of joy.

6. Things take the time they take. Be ok with it
Inspired by the blogpost The Extraordinary Patience of Things. Sometimes I am unhappy because I can’t see results now. But it’s not like the results aren’t there, they just don’t conform to my preferred schedule :)

7. There are no bad emotions
After listening to Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck I realised that I label certain emotions good and bad. And I try to avoid bad emotions like anger by suppressing them or distracting myself from them by craving pleasurable distractions – emotional eating, shopping or entertainment. Which wasn’t doing much for my waistline or my wallet. Also when I suppress “bad” emotion, I end up numbing myself out, becoming less in touch with myself, making it harder for me to Be Eu Geen.

8. Have a lot a lot of solitude
I’m an introvert, and also a people pleaser. It’s all too easy to burn myself out because I can’t say no when people ask me out. But it’s hard for me to be kind when I’m running on empty. And when I can’t be kind I’m not happy.

9. Be like water
I never expected to have a personal commandment inspired by Bruce Lee. LOL! Another tough one, and something I aspire too. After all, the only certainties in life are death, taxes and change. Might as well work on my own adaptability.

And there you have it. My personal commandments and how I arrived at them. What would your Happiness Commandments look like? How did you arrive at them? Share them with us.

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