My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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The happiness of handing in the first draft of my book: strangely muted.

CrossingfinishYesterday afternoon, I emailed my agent the first complete draft of my book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. And, I reflected, my research on the nature of happiness told me a lot about my emotions at that moment.

For months, I’d been fantasizing about the moment when I’d be finished with a beginning, middle, and an end. How fabulous I’d feel! How relieved I’d be to hit that milestone! What a relief to know that at least I had a decent framework on which to improve!

But I didn’t get much of a boost of happiness, at all. Why?

The “arrival fallacy” makes us think, “As soon as I finish my draft/get that promotion/buy a house, then I’ll be happy.” Usually, however, hitting that target doesn’t provide that much happiness. Why not?

One reason it doesn’t give a huge happiness boost is that by the time the event occurs, you’ve incorporated it into your life and expectations. In my case, it wasn’t as if I woke up one day and jumped from being one-tenth finished to being completely finished. I closed in on the finish line day by day.

Also, arrival often brings its own worries and responsibilities. Now that I’ve finished my draft, I’ve become a lot more worried about whether it’s any good. Up until yesterday, I was just worried about getting it done.

However, my happiness research has taught me some coping techniques. I’m trying to celebrate this milestone, instead of just brushing it aside. I want to savor the moment and mark it in some way. My mother-in-law gave me a gift certificate for a massage for my birthday, so I’m going to schedule that massage.

Also, because I know I have a duty to be happy, and I know that the people around me are made happy by my happiness, I’m not going to explain to them how handing in my draft actually doesn’t make me very happy. Blah, blah, blah.

Instead, I’m going to underscore the happy feelings it has brought me. “Yes, so great to cross that hurdle, very excited to hear what my agent thinks, so pleased to have tons of time to make it as good as possible,” etc.

So…I’m thrilled I’ve handed in my first draft! It feels so good to cross that milestone! Onward and upward.

Erin at Unclutterer and I come from the same part of the country, and she sent me the link yesterday to Kansas City is in Missouri. All of us who hail from Kansas City, Missouri, fight the unceasing battle to establish the Missouri location of Kansas City. I laughed out loud. My favorite section was the Testimonials — I couldn’t tell if they were fake or real.

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If you’re starting your own happiness project, please join the Happiness Project Group on Facebook to swap ideas. It’s easy; it’s free.