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

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How Is Your Happiness Challenge Going? (Asking Again.)

Running-track

Last month, I posed the question: “If you’re doing the 2011 Happiness Challenge, how is it going, now that we’ve reached the halfway point of the year?”

Several people kindly pointed out that, although June is month 6 of the 12 months of the year, the year isn’t halfway over until July 1. Whoops!

So I’m asking now, at the proper time: “If you’re doing the 2011 Happiness Challenge, how is it going?”

But really, it’s artificial to ask this question even on July 1, because most people doing the 2011 Happiness Challenge didn’t start on January 1. People still join every day — which is great. No need to wait for January 1, or the first of any month, to start a happiness project. Today is the best time to start!

If you’ve managed successfully to keep even one resolution, give yourself a big gold star. It’s hard to make change; it takes mindfulness, self-knowledge, and self-mastery. I’m often surprised by how hard it is to make even a change that’s pleasant, like my resolutions to Read more. Why is it so hard to push myself to make time for something that I love? And yet it is. (I will note that my obsession about the sense of smell is still so powerful that I’m finding it pretty easy to work that into my day — but it doesn’t take much time or energy to smell something.)

Have you followed any resolutions that have made a particular difference to your happiness? I’m always so curious to hear what people have tried, and what has worked. For instance, I’ve been surprised by how much clutter seems to weigh on people’s happiness. Although a crowded closet or a messy desk is trivial in the context of a happy life, for some reason, people report getting a disproportionate boost of good cheer and energy when they clear clutter. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.

How do you keep yourself accountable? I use my Resolutions Chart (email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com if you want to see a copy). Some people use the Happiness Project Toolbox.

It has really been gratifying to see the high level of interest in starting Happiness Project groups. If you’d like to launch a Happiness Project group yourself, for people doing happiness projects together, email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com for the starter kit. To see if there’s a group in your area, check here. To find other people who would be interested in starting a new group in your area, start a discussion here. If you’ve started a group, please answer the six quick questions. I’m so curious to hear about the groups!

Have you found a system that works for you? Accountability is so important; without accountability, it’s easy to make big plans for change but then end up abandoning them. Something like 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by mid-February, and surely a good number are abandoned by January 3.

Have your tried resolutions that didn’t work? One of the most challenging, and also most popular resolutions, is the resolution is to Get more exercise. As a dedicated couch potato, I labored for years to get myself into the habit of regular exercise.

It’s thrilling to see that almost 11,000 people have joined the 2011 Happiness Challenge. If you haven’t signed up, join now. Studies show that taking an action, like signing up, will help you hold yourself accountable for your resolutions. And it doesn’t matter when you start; the important thing is to get started. Each week, here, I post ideas for resolutions that you might want to undertake for your own happiness project. I also post a weekly video with proposed resolutions.

I’m so interested to hear about people’s experiences with their own resolutions. What has and hasn’t worked for you, in your happiness project?

* I loved this video of two children who unwrap a big gift — not knowing that their father, who just finished his deployment, is hidden in the box. One child bursts out crying, and I absolutely understand that emotion. Too much to take in.

* If you’re in the U.S., you’ve got a holiday weekend in front of you. Have fun! And if you need a good book to read…please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.