Friday, July 10, 2015

Going Into The Woods

It's the middle of the day on Friday, and when I would normally be finishing up my work for the week, I am instead lounging in a chair in the middle of a forest. After years of wanting to spend the entire weekend (four days actually) at my city's annual music festival, but being unable to do so because of work, I am now here. All weekend. It's wonderful.

Before I took time off, people kept asking me "Won't you get bored?" and "What will you do for seven weeks?"  I'm happy to report that, two weeks in, I've not for a significant period of time felt bored or at a loss for things to do. I've submitted all of the paperwork necessary to work as a real doctor; I've tackled the mammoth job of reorganizing my small apartment (which hasn't been organized in five years); I've crossed off multiple nagging tasks from my to do list (in some cases, after they've been there for literally years). While my holiday so far hasn't been the most exciting, it's given me a sense of accomplishment to do many of the things I've been putting off for far too long. And, as long as I can keep up with some of these things (e.g. the organization), they'll help me to be happier in the long term.

With respect to long-term happiness, I've also just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project.  This time between fellowship and work feels quite liminal, so it seems only natural to devote a significant amount of it to thinking about important things like happiness. While I'm not prepared to follow in Gretchen's footsteps and embark on a year of resolutions to make me happier, I do think she has some good ideas that may be worth incorporating into my life. First of these is her command to "Be Gretchen", meaning to be honest with yourself about what makes you happy and to invest time in those things, rather than investing time in the things you think you should like.

To that end, while basking in the warm sun and listening to an assortment of banjos and ukuleles, I've started compiling my own "happiness list". Some of my things?

-  spending quality time with my girlfriend/other people
-  reading, especially if it's a book that changes my way of thinking/living in a positive way
-  exercise, especially in the morning before work (Who would have ever thought?)
-  getting a good night sleep
-  doing nice things for other people (e.g. visiting my grandma)
-  keeping a clean and organized apartment
-  listening to good music
-  being in nature
-  taking care of nagging tasks
-  eating (especially healthy things)
-  sticking to a budget
-  napping
-  cuddling
-  petting my cats
-  going to good movies
-  being silly/laughing
-  sitting in coffee shops
-  taking pictures of grain elevators/old buildings
-  road trips
-  bike riding
-  looking at recipes/cooking

What's on your "happiness list"?


  1. I love this idea of a happiness list. Mine has to include running on trails, petting my cats (!!), drinking lattes, reading good books, drinking bubble tea, working night many things! We are so fortunate to be part of a profession that allows us to structure our lives to fit in so many of our happy things.

  2. A belated congrats for being done! What a feeling. I like your list, and the very idea of proactively planning how to increase happiness. I've read that book, and read her blog regularly, she has some great ideas.