My happiness project has turned me into a sleep zealot. If I want to feel happy, calm, energetic, and mentally sharp, I must get enough sleep.
At the same time, though, a resolution that has also boosted my happiness is “Get up earlier.” A few years ago, because I wanted a calmer, less hurried morning with my family, I started getting up earlier — and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve started setting my alarm earlier and earlier. I started at 7:00 a.m. with the rest of my family, then moved to 6:30, then 6:15, and now 6:00. I love the early morning so much that I’d wake up at 5:00, but that would mean a bedtime of about 8:00 p.m., which just isn’t workable. I can barely stay up to a normal adult hour, as it is.
I spend the hour from 6:00 to 7:00 working at my desk, and I love the light, and the quiet, and the sense of focus and freedom from interruption that I have during that hour. I wish I could go for a walk, too, but so far the desire to spend the time at my desk has triumphed.
I’m a fan of the writings as well as the photographs of photographer Edward Weston, and in his Daybooks on February 2, 1931, he captures the atmosphere of working in the early morning: “Peace again! – The exquisite hour before dawn, here at my old desk — seldom have I realized so keenly, appreciated so fully, these still, dark hours.”
One of the great challenges of a happiness project is to think about time: whether the structure of our ordinary days reflects our values, interests, and temperament. Sometimes, making a shift like waking earlier or changing a daily routine can make a big difference.
Of course, for someone else, a happiness project might suggest getting up later. There’s no right or wrong way, only what is right for a particular person. How about you? Do you love early mornings — or quite the opposite? If you could, would you wake up earlier, or later?
I’m working on my Happiness Project, and Sensorium, “a nerdy, interactive exhibit devoted to perfume” sponsored by Firmenich and Sephora. It’s right here in New York City, and I cannot wait to go.