One of the people who are a great inspiration to me is Gretchen Rubin. She writes, in books and on her blog, about how to live a happier life. And about habits, how they form, how we can reform them, start new ones or stop bad ones. She inspires me because she doesn’t just learn about things, she tries them out in her own life. And then shares the results, god or bad, with her readers.
One of her ideas is that everybody falls into a category when it comes to habits and challenges, she calls it “The Four Tendencies framework”. According to this people are either Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. (She has a quiz and a lot of information about this at her blog.) According to this, framework I’m an Obliger, which means that I do best with obligations when I am accountable to someone else besides me. The majority of people are, or have a big part of Obliger in them – not surprising, I think, we are a social species after all.
For me, learning has always been a great joy, a true pleasure. I read extensivly about anything I happen to get interested in. Last year I had minor relapse into fatigue syndrome, not big enough that I couldn’t work, but enough that life felt very bleek for a while. So when I started to be able to read non-fiction again (when I’m to stressed out I have no energy for new facts or ideas at all) I read a lot of books about how to be happier in life. One of them was Gretchens early book “The Happiness Project”. In it she describes a full year of trying different resolutions, inspired by science about happiness. That sounded like a good idea! I also like trying to apply the knowledge to my own life – and when I read about the need for an Obliger to be accountable to someone, I decided that if this was going to succeed I needed someone to report to. So I reached out to friends, and 3 of them responded with interest. We don’t live near each other, so I found a free site and created a private forum – and since January we have all been posting our resolutions and supporting each other in them. (One of my friends found other pressing obligations and had to abandon us, but I’m hoping she’ll come back to us again in time.)
We have not set any specific rules – each person decides for herself what goals or resolutions to set for each month, and then report back how we are doing. We aim to be supportive, and constructive in our responses, and that’s all – but that’s also magic! For me it’s been a real help in staying on course with the changes I’m slowly working into my life. And, since we are old friends, there has been the added benefit of getting to be more involved in each others lives again. A real happiness-booster in itself.
During this year I’ve managed to find more balance, definitely. I sleep better, I eat better, I move more. I’ve explored more of frugalism and minimalism, and I’ve realized a lot of new things about myself. I handle my time differently – more about this in a later post. And I’ve started this blog! Some of these things may have come through without the support of our Happiness-group – but not all of them, of that I’m sure. And we have already decided to keep up the group during next year as well – that also makes me happy.