Friday, December 04, 2015

Contemplate the Heavens / The Happiness Project

For those of you who do not know, I have decided to read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and follow along on her journey to find Happiness right where I am in life. I will be posting every month in response to the chapters topic that are set up in her book. You can follow along on my journey here.
August (December): Contemplate the Heavens 
"I wanted to cultivate a contented and thankful spirit. I wanted to appreciate the glories of the present moment and my ordinary life. I wanted to put the happiness of others before my own happiness."

I would have to immensely agree that I am a much happier person when I remember to place my faith as a priority, before anything else, and to have it, seamlessly, go hand-in-hand with everything in my daily life. Even when days don't go as I plan, I become stressed, or life's struggles become too hard, when I remember Him and all that He stands for, I can let go, I can pray, I can be assured that He is there looking out for me and my loved ones.

During the days that I choose to forget about Him and His promises, those are the days that my anxiety and depression comes in and fear enters my soul, that is when I choose to let stress take a hold of me, consuming every thought and every moment, and that is when I hide in my home - tired from everything around me.

Life can be tough, life can be painful, life can be heartbreaking. The one thing that I know for sure is that when I remember Jesus, when I remember who created this earth, who is Mighty and Strong, who is Just and who is in control, when I remember that it is He taking care of me and my loved ones, friends and family, that He is big enough to handle all my fears and all my stress and all my sadness, when I remember all of this - then, then I am happy.

"It's not easy to stay focused on the positive."

Read memoirs of catastrophe.
"As I became more aware of the preciousness of ordinary life, I was overwhelmed by the desire to capture the floods of moments that passed practically unnoticed."

It kills me to say that this past month and a half seems to have been filled with so many catastrophes. I did not read a memoir. Newspapers and Facebook filled my feed and got my attention with so many heartaches, problems, sadness and destruction that I sat crippled every time I logged into my computer, overwhelmed with my aching heart. All I wanted to do was cry and shout out. 

I lost a friend a few weeks ago. That was another catastrophe. I remember hearing and confirming the news with my mother and all I wanted to do was sob and grieve. And it seemed kind of cruel that my daughter was giggling and wanting me to colour with her on that horrid day. And I wanted to be angry with her for not understanding what I was going through. But that is just it - she didn't understand, and I didn't understand. So I prayed. I was reminded of the verse in ecclesiastes, "a time to weep, and a time to laugh." So on that morning, that morning that my heart was heavy with overwhelming sadness, I spent it colouring and laughing with my toddler baby. It was all I could do. I prayed and I coloured, and I thanked God for her over and over, and I captured a moment that I will always remember - one that I could have easily pushed aside. Then, when my baby went for her nap, I curled up on my bed and I wept and God is there, catching my tears. (Psalm 56:8) 

From reading and learning of catastrophes, I do appreciate my life and all that is around me. I focus on the joys and aim to spend more time being together with my loved ones rather than hiding or taking it for granted. But more importantly, it has made me realize just how much I do need to remember Jesus, that He is the only person that can help me get through those heart-wrenching moments. Especially during the times that I don't even want to get through them, when I just want to stay in a ball and grieve for the rest of my life. That is when I need Him the most. 

Keep a gratitude notebook.
"But I find it hard to stay in a grateful frame of mind -- I take things for granted, I forget what other people have done for me, I have high expectations."

One of my favourite things to do is find the little moments that bring me joy or for which I am thankful for. Rarely do I post or talk about a lot of them on this blog (maybe I should?) but I do enjoy this process a lot and find it immensely rewarding.

I, sadly, did not inherit my mothers and sisters love for journalling. While I love the idea of doing it, I find that I am not up for that task. However, with that being said, there are so many awesome tools out there that help me to remember the good times, to remember all that I am grateful for, and to help me to remember to seek the joy. 

- keep a notebook - write down lists of people or moments that you are thankful for. 
- Bullet Journal - an amazing tool that is build on remembering highlights: daily, weekly, and monthly. 
- The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal for Mothers - this is a great book that helps me to remember all the amazing moments in the life of my little Bug! So great!
- the Joy Dare - Ann Voskamp has created an amazing scavenger hunt that is designed for finding the joy in your every day life. This is such a great tool that has opened my eyes to everything that surrounds me. I highly recommend her book One Thousand Gifts as well. 

Imitate a spiritual master.

I love reading biographies and I love reading blogs. There is so much that can be taken out of somebody's story, how they accomplish or deal with something, and it appeals to be greatly. I learn from others, I am reminded of important things from others, I am challenged by others. Without others, their stories, their words, and examples, how would I grow? If it was just up to me and my experiences, I would remain the same. 

There are so many people that I admire I will forget to mention several: The Bible, Ann Voskamp, Candice Cameron Bure, Ravi Zacharias, Beth Moore - these are the more well-known, then I have family and friends and bloggers who are Christian that I also find encouragement and strength from! 

Here are some examples of words from Gretchen Rubin that she wrote for this chapter that made me have a few "aha" moments or "wow, I didn't think of this before." I hope you enjoy. 

"Usually I could find something to praise." 

"It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light." 

"...many people don't want to be happy or at least don't want to seem happy (and if they act as if they're not happy, they're not going to feel happy."

"They think that being happy shows a lack of values, and that being unhappy is a sign of depth."

"It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit."
I would love to hear from you, comments and discussions are always welcome. Have you read this book before? Or anything by Gretchen Rubin? What are some of the things that you found challenging or easy? What was your favourite thing to learn or practise? Without even reading the book, have you discovered these challenges in your own life? 

It is never too late to start a happiness project. If you would like to join in and learn with me, I would love to hear about your journey. xoxo 

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