I bought The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on our recent Christmas travels in the Carolinas. It was originally intended to be my gift to our Secret Santa Swap with family. But then I started reading it and realized it was my Christmas present to myself.

I’ve never been one for resolutions; but this year I am reading all the commentary on them with interest. Some folks advocate making intentions rather than resolutions. Others create “unresolutions” as a backdoor into the life they want. (An example being “cancel your gym membership” to inspire more time hiking.) Positive psychologists and others who study habits talk about the need to break goals down into concrete tasks thus “eating healthy” becomes “I reach for fruit if hungry between lunch and dinner” or something even more specific.

And yet everyone seems to agree that a sense of agency nudges us toward happier lives.

We are happy, in part, if we realize we have the capacity to make ourselves more so.

As someone on a spiritual path shouldn’t I pursue nobler and weightier goals like peace and justice? Perhaps. But I also am starting to think that joy can better fuel real personal and social change than any form of external obligation.

And so here I go, diving into 2013 with twelve themes, one per month. For some months I have already identified the concrete action items. Others I will find once I get closer.

January: Energize

  • I will sleep 9 hours a night for 7 consecutive nights and see how I feel. (With three little ones I better start now and hopefully I’ll get through a full week by months end without someone waking me up vomiting or with an earache in the middle of the night.)
  • Incorporate weight training back into my workout routine. I’ve already done the research and found an affordable gym by our place. And I just got an email that they are giving a month for free!

February: Write

I want to take writing more seriously and give myself time and space and new opportunities. So this month I’ll

  • blog more (at least 3 times a week)
  • reconnect with some folks I know who are full-time writers and learn more about their journey and recommendations

March: Eat

  • Find and sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) co-op.
  • Set up a farm visit for my children
  • Observe and limit wastefulness. In the U.S.we waste 40% of our food!

April: Plot

  • I have some new connections on the local food and community agriculture front.  I want to invest more in these relationships and conspire to create a more beautiful community. I need to get more specific here (are we writing a grant, creating an organization?) I’m not sure, but trust I will be able to discern soon.

May: Plant

June: Dance

July: Retreat (Unplug)

August: Meditate

September: Love

October: Learn

November: Vacate

  • This will be the month of our ten year wedding anniversary. I plan to get out of town with my man. New Orleans if possible.

December: Read

  • Read something beyond my comfort zone (which means something other than  spiritual/foodie memoirs and parenting or self-growth non-fiction.)

Rather than feeling like a heavy to-do list; I actually feel relief as I create a peg board on which to hang all those things I’ve been wanting to do (like find a local CSA) and ways I’ve been meaning to stretch myself (like reading more challenging fiction.)

And a happiness project sounds a lot more fun than resolutions.

I commit to trying all these things, and adding new layers month by month. But I’m also allowed to refine and re calibrate and enjoy the process.

What are your happiness goals? How might you map them out for 2013?



PS Feel like you could use a hand to hold on your road to happiness? Check out my holistic coaching services here. xxo