This Saturday: a happiness quotation from Epicurus.

“We must, therefore, pursue the things that make for happiness, seeing that when happiness is present, we have everything; but when it is absent, we do everything to possess it.” –Epicurus

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The Hero Workshop is a very interesting site. Matt Langdon believes that by studying the hero’s journey and the character traits of heroes, people can embrace their role as the hero of their own lives — life takes on new meaning and people become empowered to make choices that are heroic.

He did an interview with me. It was fascinating to reflect on his questions.

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It’s Friday: time to think about YOUR Happiness Project. This week: Music meditation.

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you should have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

This week’s assignment is a bit goofy and overspecific: if you have a sweetheart, go to iTunes, download Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” and dance around the room while thinking about all the things you love and appreciate about your sweetheart.

Here’s why.

I’m not a huge music lover, but every once in a while, I fixate on a song I really love – for example, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Under the Bridge.”

The other day, while working in a diner, I overheard a song, “Praise You,” that I love but had forgotten about. I’m proud to say that I now possess the expertise to go to iTunes, buy a song, and load it onto my iPod. A major technological triumph for me.

Listening to this song flooded me with tender feelings for the Big Man. Yes, we have gone through the hard times and the good! Yes, I have to praise him like I should!

So find a song you love that fills you with happy feelings of love, gratitude, energy, or nostalgia. It could be the Gershwin song, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” or the Talking Heads’ “And She Was,” or “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, or some terrific new song that I, of course, have never heard of.

If you get up and dance around the room while you listen, you’ll get extra happiness points.

Research shows that listening to music is an extremely effective way to boost mood and energy. It is an excellent way to induce a mood – the way “Praise You” induces feelings of gratitude and appreciation in me.

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New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
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.

A gigantic Happiness Project victory for me: I refrained from nagging.

I’ve been working hard to stop nagging. I’ve thought a lot about nagging, and how to cut down on nagging, because nagging is unpleasant for me, unpleasant for the Big Man – and furthermore, it doesn’t even work.

I’ve recently had the chance to practice not nagging.

Each year, instead of sending out holiday cards in December, I send out family Valentine’s Day cards, because December is such a crazy time.

Even apart from procuring a fabulous photo of the girls and ordering the cards, sending them out takes a lot of grunt work: stuffing, sealing, stamping, and addressing. (Though this year, for the first time, I’m using printed address labels instead of handwriting them – handwriting is nicer, but just too much work.) Our cards arrived about ten days ago, so the task looms.

For Christmas, my sister gave the Big Man a DVD set of Season Three of the TV show Lost. He and I have slowly been watching the episodes.

The other night, as we settled in on the sofa to watch, I got out the stacks of untouched envelopes and cards and asked, “Would you like to stuff or seal?”

He gave me a sad look and said, “Please don’t make me.”

And I DIDN’T. I let it go. I didn’t say another word.

Last night, we settled in again. I took out stacks of envelopes and cards. And this time, I DIDN’T even ASK.

I didn’t really care about doing it myself. It wasn’t hard, and I could do it while watching TV. Zoikes, it was a relief and a pleasure just to do the work myself, and let it go, than to feel myself nagging.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a “fair” outcome.

I used to have a self-congratulatory habit, when I did something nice for our household like sending out Valentine’s cards, of telling myself, “I’m doing this for the Big Man,” or “I’m doing this for the team.”

Then I’d be angry if no one oohed and aahed over what I’d done. Or if no one helped.

Now, however, I tell myself, “I’m doing this for myself. This is what I want.” I want to send out Valentine’s cards.

This sounds like a selfish attitude, but in fact, it’s less selfish, because it means I don’t expect praise or help from anyone else.

I can do the Valentine’s cards, and be pleased, and not nag, and not feel resentful. A happy solution.

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I LOVE before-and-after de-cluttering pictures, especially when they involve the application of Happiness Project principles. This blogger on The Reshaping Project got great results in just thirty minutes. Inspiring.

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New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
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.

This Wednesday: 21 phrases to use to help you FIGHT RIGHT with your sweetheart.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 21 phrases to use to help you fight right with your sweetheart.

Almost all couples fight; the secret is to fight right.

I’ve posted before about what NOT to say during a fight. Here are some phrases that will actually help.

When the Big Man and I are arguing, I find that the single best technique to apply is HUMOR. If one of us can laugh and joke around, the crabby mood lifts instantly. But during an argument, it can be hard to see the funny side of things.

Failing that, here are twenty-one phrases that help turn down the heat of anger:

Please try to understand my point of view.
Wait, can I take that back?
You don’t have to solve this—it helps me just to talk to you.
This is important to me. Please listen.
I overreacted, I’m sorry.
I see you’re in a tough position.
I can see my part in this.
I hadn’t thought of it that way before.
I could be wrong.
Let’s agree to disagree on that.
This isn’t just your problem, it’s our problem.
I’m feeling unappreciated.
We’re getting off the subject.
You’ve convinced me.
Please keep talking to me.
I realize it’s not your fault.
That came out all wrong.
I see how I contributed to the problem.
What are we really fighting about?
How can I make things better?
I’m sorry.
I love you.

I actually get tears in my eyes when I read this list. Such is the uplifting power of fighting right.

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New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
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.

In which I discover a cue to help prompt me to feel grateful for good health.

One of my resolutions is to “Cultivate gratitude.”

A study showed that people who daily reflected on five things they appreciated felt happier, had more energy, and slept better. People who worked on their gratitude even exercised more!

One way that I try to Cultivate gratitude is to be grateful for good health.

Good health is so easy to take for granted – I appreciate it only when some problem arises.

I found a good gratitude cue in my neighborhood. Because I live close to Lenox Hill Hospital, and because I spend a lot of time just a block away from it, visiting the Tasti-D-Lite store down the street, I often see people walking around the neighborhood wearing neon “Hospital Visitor” stickers.

Now I use the sight of those stickers as a prompt to appreciate the fact that I’m neither in a hospital nor have any reason to visit anyone in the hospital. For now.

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Marci Alboher of fabulous Shifting Careers fame pointed me to Awake @ the Wheel — great stuff there! On a wide range of interesting subjects.

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New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
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.