Each person’s Happiness Project will be unique, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit from starting one. You can focus on whatever aspects of your life will help you become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. You can start big or small; it’s up to you.
To identify the specific changes you’d like to make, it can be helpful to consider the different areas of your life where you’d like to make progress. Here are some ideas to help you narrow down those areas and organize your Happiness Project.
First Splendid Truth of Happiness
The First Splendid Truth of Happiness is: To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
So ask yourself:
- What makes you feel good? What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
- What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, guilt, resentment, or anxiety in your life?
- Is there any way in which you don’t feel right about your life? Do you wish you could change your job, city, family situation, or other circumstances? Are you living up to your expectations for yourself? Does your life reflect your values?
- Do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth? Are there areas in your life where you find progress, where you’re learning, teaching, serving others, or challenging yourself?
The Vital Nine
Another way to organize your Happiness Project is the Vital Nine. When people identify the habits they’d like to cultivate, those habits tend to fall into one of these nine areas. You may choose to create several resolutions within one area that you want to focus on, or work on multiple areas at once.
For her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin created a resolution chart inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s virtues chart. She assigned each month of the year to a different area of her life, set resolutions meant to boost her happiness in that area, and on the chart, checked off every day when she accomplished her resolution. You can use her monthly themes and write your own resolutions, or plan a year with your own themes.
Strategy of Foundation
If you’re not sure where to start, focus on the Strategy of Foundation: getting enough sleep, moving your body, eating and drinking right, and decluttering. These foundational habits reinforce each other and boost our feeling of self-control. You may be surprised at how much other areas of your life improve when you work on the basics.
Once you’ve identified the areas you’d like to work on, the next step is to identify your resolutions—the concrete, specific actions you can take, starting today, to support your aims.