Last year (The Year of Self Discovery), I picked up a little book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I probably couldn’t tell you 80% of what was in that book now (thank you mommy brain), but the first of Gretchen’s Twelve Commandments of Happiness has stuck with me – Be Gretchen.
Gretchen discovered that she could enhance her own happiness by accepting her true likes and dislikes instead of worrying about the things that she should enjoy. Since Gretchen lives in New York, she always felt like she SHOULD go out more – to the theater, to concerts, out to fancy dinners – but she did not enjoy those things. Instead she would prefer to stay home and read children’s literature. So she gave herself permission to do just that – to Be Gretchen. However, being true to yourself is not as easy as it seems:
“…accepting my true likes and dislikes, also means that I have to face the fact that I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn. I won’t be admired for my chic wardrobe or be appointed to a high government office. I love fortune cookies and refuse to try foie gras.” – GretchenRubin.com
I have since thought about how I can choose to “Be Claire” more in my daily life. An unexpected side effect of this has been that it has simplified my life. By removing the things that I thought I should be doing that aren’t “me”, I have reduced the number of choices available – therefore simplifying the decision making process.
Some examples of how this has manifested in my life this year:
I gave myself permission to:
- Spend more quiet time reading and writing
- Donate books I would never actually read
- Treat myself to a chai latte, if it gets me through the day
- Buy store bought treats for school celebrations
- Build strong one-on-one relationships with a few good friends
- Choose less strenuous exercise, like yoga and walking
I stopped worrying about trying to:
- Keep up with reality TV
- Wear trendy clothes
- Go out with a bunch of girlfriends at once
- Drink beer with “the guys”
- Watch sports with my husband
- Be the “crafty mom”
- Be the “fun mom”
There are many more examples of small decisions I have made along the way with this principle in mind, but you get the idea. Of course these choices have not always pleased those around me (my husband is still a little sad about the sports thing). But by focusing more on the things that give me life, I have become more comfortable with who I am (and who I am not).
Are there some things that you are doing because it is what is expected of you? Are there other things that you wish you could do more, or that you don’t do because they are considered weird or nerdy? Feel free to be you.