My Happiness Project
One day, sitting on the bus, Gretchen Rubin realized she probably wasn't as happy as she could be.  It wasn't that she was miserable.  It was just that her life didn't seem to be as joyful as she would have liked.  She had basically everything she ever thought she'd need to be happy--a husband, two children, and a successful career.  Why wasn't she happy?

She decided to spend each month of the coming year setting a specific goal that would hopefully increase her happiness.  She wrote about her experiences in her book The Happiness Project. Her goals included things like reaching out more to her friends, organizing her closet, singing, taking time to play with her children, and spending money.  There were also some challenging intellectual goals.

Since reading the book, I've thought a lot about what makes me happy.  I've even set goals to help myself be happier.  Here are some of my top happiness boosters:

1.  Sun.  During the winter and when it's overcast, I tend to have more trouble with happiness than at other times of the year. After experimenting last winter, I've decided that I just have to get out in the sun for fifteen minutes a day.

Happiness File

2.  Exercise.  I'm a much more positive person after I exercise than before.

3.  My Happiness File.  Years ago, I started a happiness file.  Whenever anyone writes me a nice note or sends me a card I like, I stick it in my happiness file.  It is also a great place to put funny cartoons, kids' artwork, or anything else that makes me happy.  If I'm feeling down on myself, I will get out my happiness file and read a few things.

4.  Service.  Doing something for someone else always makes me feel better even if it's something as small as a phone call or a compliment.

5.  Listening to positive voices.  We are all better off when we're around positive people.  We can't always choose the people we're around all day.  But, generally, we can choose the books we read and the shows we watch.  I love to watch funny shows and movies, listen to motivational radio shows, and read books with happy endings. 

6.  Staying spiritually in tune.  I always feel better when I read my scriptures and stay close to my Heavenly Father.  There's nothing better than being in tune enough to hear that still small voice.

7.  Banishing perfectionism.  There was a time in my life that I felt I could only be happy when everything was in order, my kids were behaving, my hair looked great, etc.  Well, that's not going to happen.  I've decided to just do my best and enjoy the journey.  If everything were perfect, life wouldn't be so funny.

8.  Sleep.  As a mom, I'm frequently sleep deprived, but it really helps me be happier when I at least try to keep up on my sleep.