2011 Recap of Happiness Project

2011 was a pretty great year for me. I decided to do a Happiness Project after reading the book. I tracked A LOT of things about myself, from work outs, to sleep, journaling, mini adventures, friend nights, and what I ate. The biggest thing I learned about pursuing happiness is that to be happy you need to be yourself. And, it turns out that to be yourself, you have to know yourself. This year I spent a lot of time getting to know me. I did monthly reviews and created another page on my site (Happiness Project 2011). I made a list a year ago of my plan, and looking back, I feel really accomplished. Because I tracked a lot of my goals on my blog, I am able reflect upon all that has taken place in the last year. The elements that added the most to happiness were…

  • Spending time with loved ones. I love people, and those that are my closest friends and family mean the world to me. I made it a monthly goal to have a “friend night.” On this night, I would have to make plans to hang out with my college gals. My family and I some great visits, I spent a great deal of time with JMO, and I strengthened friendships with some new work pals.
  • Mini-adventures. There is a lot to do in the Houston area, in Texas, and in general. On the weekends I am tired, and don’t often push myself. I made it a priority to get out of the house and go to a museum, go out of town for a weekend, or just do something. Activities rock and I did them with people (who I love) so of course this contributed to my happiness.
  • Sleep. My mood varies greatly depending on how well I rested. Getting sleep is important!
  • Positivity. It is a struggle for me to remain positive. One month I recorded one positive thing from everyday. The negative things come up quicker, but they are best forgotten. Being positive had such an impact on my great year.
  • Creating goals and sticking to them. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way. I was really proud of myself for working out more, praying more, being more positive, getting more sleep, and spending quality time with people. Although I never managed to do it at the same time, I did do all of those things!

Tracking behavior was such a great learning tool for me. I know that pursuing happiness never truly ends, and I look forward to making that journey. Next year I probably won’t make a goal for every month, but I’d like to make goals in months where I notice something slipping. I don’t have to wait till New Years to start fresh, I can start on the first of the month or any Monday. Change can happen and I’ve grown A LOT this year trying to get happier!



Jelly Beans and Fun Song

JMO emailed me this earlier in the week, and I’ve watched it several times since then. 288,000 Jelly Beans were used to make the video. I read all about it here, and watched the making of the video too. Sidenote: Remember when MTV used to do the “Making the Video” show? My brother and I were way into it.

October Review- November Plan

Last month, as part of my happiness project, I decided to reflect and journal daily. When given the chance to see the patterns of days in a month, things begin to appear. Things like negativity, chronic sleepiness, and lack of physical activity shine through. The exercise of recording positive things from each day is powerful, but that isn’t what I challenged myself to do. I’ve definitely learned over the years that when I am not pushed by myself or others to remain positive, I begin to steer down the negative path. There is much in life to complain about. But, there is also much to rejoice in. When I choose to complain, it snowballs. I’ve learned that I will probably always have to have check points, and push myself back to positive reflection.

In October, I finally settled into the routines of school. It takes awhile to get to know new kids. It is a struggle to realize that what worked last year, may not work this year. Honestly I spent August to October as a giant ball of stress. Giant balls of stress aren’t not part of happiness projects. Who can be happy when you are constantly worried about lessons, behaviors, and feedback?

In school, when we have problems we are asked to collect data. This is time consuming and often a nuisance. But, after the data has been collected, clear patterns emerge. This month, I suppose journaling allowed me to collect data on myself. Here is what I realized – I AM ALLOWING MY JOB TO OWN ME. I love teaching, and feel I am very dedicated to my class and kids (if you haven’t checked out my glorious classroom blog- do so here. I’ll share my enthusiasm about the site at a later time). But, arriving at 7:00am and leaving after 6:00pm and taking home work is not healthy. I do realize people do this everyday, but it is a quick way to become unhappy. I need to separate my personal life from my work life. I need to stop answering emails at 10:00pm. The answers can wait till the morning (although I know that to be true, I probably won’t stop). 

So, here is the November plan: MAKE AN EFFORT TO LEAVE IT AT WORK. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, I have commitments near school. So, it makes sense to stay and get things done before I have to be somewhere else at 6:00. That means, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays I need to leave. My goal: before 5:00pm. This is not drastic, but a friend told me that when she made that rule for herself, she was much more productive. I chat and piddle around. I check on things, and organize. I procrastinate on things that really need to get done. If I know I have to get out by 5:00pm, I’m hoping it will trick me into working harder and staying focused. When I leave at 5:00pm, I can work out (which I’ve been missing actually),  I can spend time with JMO (he’s a pretty swell dude), or just relax.

Tracking is kind of difficult for this one. I’m just going to give myself a sticker on my calendar when I leave work, make an effort, and enjoy my day. Even grown ups like stickers for good work.


Friend Night October: Awesome game night, had a blast.

Mini Adventure: Didn’t do it, but I did go to a bridal Shower for an old friend, go to an awesome wedding, and start Spanish classes.

Happiness Project – July

It is halfway through my 2011 Happiness Project, and I have to say, I’m a happy girl. Honestly, I can’t ever remember being so happy. Choosing to focus my energy on things that I enjoy, really does help.

This month, I didn’t really have a mini-adventure, I had two big adventures. I spent a week in Florida with my family, went to Honduras for a week, and spent four days in San Antonio with my family and Sandra’s family. We had a pizza and games night last Wednesday and I got good quality Leah and Sandra time. It was a happy month.

My goal in the month of July was to keep a prayer journal. I had a lot of anxieties going into the Honduras trip and it truly helped me to write them down, and to accept that God would help me. JMO’s mom wrote me a lovely letter with a verse from Philippians in it,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your ind in Christ Jesus.

I wrote and thought a lot about my anxiety, and when I got to Honduras I felt so ready for adventure I forgot all about my fears. The fear was dumb, but I guarantee I shall feel it again. Anxiety is just part of who I am. I’ve accepted that.

In my journal I also thought a lot about the blessings in my life. I’ve grown up middle class, never hungry, I moved to different places and saw different people, and  I have a lot of people who I love and love me. My life is good, very good. It is time to think about it, appreciate that, and give thanks for my life.

July was a very successful month, I didn’t focus on food or sleep or other worries, because it was summer. And because my other physical needs were all met, I was able to focus on my spiritual self.

In August, I plan to live more frugally, to live on less. I need to put my money where my mouth is. I’d like to do grand things and spend some more time in Honduras next year, but to do that, I need to get my financial life in order.

Happiness Project Progress (March)

March was awesome. I set some goals, and I tracked them! I did something ALMOST every day. But, like I said last month, the good people in my life are key contributors to my happiness. I needed a happiness boost. Basically I gave myself a goal I could win with. February was a very tough month, and underneath all the great times I had with people I love, March was pretty tough as well. Keeping up with school has been difficult, my house is a mess, and my brain seems to be a bit of one as well. But, I wanted to spend time with people, and boy did I do that!

I cannot say enough how lucky I am to live in a city full of people I love and care about. My mom, dad, and little sister live only 3 hours away. I was able to go see my little brother this month. There were only 4 days this month where I did not do something with people, I’m going to say that I had 87% success rate on my first goal. There were also several events this month that could qualify for my mini-adventure, I went to the art museum with the Oswalts, Brenham with my mom and sister, Florida to see my brother, and I went to the art festival with Michelle. The official “Friend Night” was on March 25th, but really, I had 27 friend nights.

Onto goal 2. I have nowhere neared mastered the art of integrating working out in my life. But, it is much better than it was in January. I feel stronger too. I lowered the goal to working out only 3 times a week, I wanted it to be more manageable. March was a 5 week month, which means I should have worked out 15 times. There are a few days where I walked all day, because I was doing something fun, and I counted those as work outs. I worked out 10 times, which is a success rate of 67%. Again, still haven’t mastered it.

March 2011 1


Now that I’ve taken a win, it is time to attack what I pushed off. Eating habits.


I will set up my April calendar a little different. I will record a “W” in the corner of the days I workout. I still need to record, because I will definitely slack off if I don’t keep records. If I met my food goals, I will write nothing in the date’s box. The idea is to keep an almost blank calendar this month. If I write something, that means I’ve tarnished the clearness of the calendar.

The plan, is no sodas (I’m VERY addicted to Diet Coke – I love it and this will be tough), no fried foods, and no sweets. I’m going to keep a food journal. I need to have a better idea of what I’m shoving in my mouth. If I have to write down something not so good for me (because I ate it), then I will have to write the bad food confession in my April calendar.

April is going to be hard, wish me luck!

Happiness Project Progress (February)

Complete February Goals = FAILED

The beauty of doing goals monthly is that I can fail one month, and start fresh the next. The beauty of designing your own rules is no one can call me a cheater.

February was all around a tough month. Bootcamp ended, and I fell off the work out wagon pretty quickly. I got wrapped up in over preparing for my writing lessons because I was scared to death of my first TAKS test as a teacher. I got wrapped up in my personal life. I got wrapped up in the feeling that I couldn’t do everything and keep everyone happy. Overall, February was very mean to to me. I did manage to stay in my budget, I made no extravagant purchases or buy anything that I didn’t need. For me, those are great strides, but I definitely have a long way to go in the financial departments. So that goal will have to be readdressed. Although I did not work out 4 times a week like I originally planned, I did complete a 10K. I worked out HARD on the weekends because I just couldn’t manage anything on the weekdays this month. Next month shall be better, but I’ll get to that.

So, there were some successes for the month. I did get to have my friend night, it was hosted by Christine. Tranee also helped me with my mini adventure, and it was a good one! Taking time out to go out of town with Tranee was such a treat, and it was a treat I needed. Most mini adventures will be smaller, but this was a good one.

February 2011

March is going to be better. I’m looking forward to March. On my original time line of my project, I planned to focus on good eating. Now, because this is my project and I will do what I want, I’m going to focus on relationships. The good people in my life are key contributors to my happiness. In February, I found myself retreating from those I love, so this month I want to make room to strengthen my relationships. I want to work on building up some of my newer friendships and spending quality time with people I haven’t seen much of. Secretly, I am doing this, because I need to win at March after February’s failure. My mom is coming up next weekend, and I’m spending part of Spring break with my brother. This afternoon I’m going to the CARPOOL Gala, and Leah has already set a friend night date. Relationships are good for me, and it is an area I will be able to feel successful.

I’m keeping working out on the calendar. I’m not quite ready to move on from tracking it (clearly). Work out requirements are being decreased from 4 times a week to 3 times a week. Hopefully I will be motivated to achieve the goal of 3 and go for the 4th work out on a few of the weeks.

Good riddance February.

Hello March.