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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Come On Get Happy, Part Three

Your Mission: The First Happiness Challenge.

Once you've established what is happiness, it's time to start collecting it. I don't know, collecting happiness during infertility sort of sounds like scouring under the sofa cushions for spare change. Whatever you find won't be enough to buy what you want, and sometimes there is a handful of coins and sometimes there's nothing but dust. But maybe if you keep at it over time, gather enough coins, you'll look down at the jar one day and realize you have enough to buy something to make the wait easier.

Maybe this analogy isn't working.

But I think that it's hard to be kind to yourself when you're feeling angry with your body. I think it's hard to remember to do something nice when you're scrambling to balance injections, work, blood draws, cooking, semen samples, phone calls... Infertility is like having a second job and I couldn't work things like bubble baths into my life when I had only one job.

But Tal Ben Shahar's first exercise is about pausing. Slowing it down. Making that time for yourself. And his second exercise is about reflecting, recording, and remembering*. So this is the first 30-day challenge that I'm throwing out there. It will take place formally from September 1--30, though you can start beforehand to get into the groove. The second (which I'll talk about later) will take place from October 1--30. Haven't read far enough yet to know if we'll have a challenge every month!

Challenge One: Ritual Breaks
  • Think of a daily/weekly ritual that would make you happy--a place you like to visit, an activity you like to do, a person you like to see, a food you like to eat. The idea is to choose something that can be sustained over time (in other words, going to Tahiti, while nice, is not the best choice unless you have thousands to burn. And if you have thousands to burn, consider sending some to me care of my clinic). It should be something that doesn't create more problems for the future (for instance, eating sticks of butter even if butter-eating brings you joy). It should be something that you can do frequently--if not every day then at least three times a week.
  • Schedule this new ritual into your day. Literally place it in your planner or write a reminder to stick on the refrigerator. If you can't vacuum or prepare dinner one day, that's fine. But don't drop your ritual.
  • Write and tell me your ritual for the Challenge Post and send a link for your blog. If you don't have a blog, send me your name and the ritual. You don't need a blog to do this--I can post your response for you in the Annex. You can either leave a comment or email me directly. You can join now and set your ritual later. It just needs to be chosen by September 1.
  • Keep a running post about your ritual that you will publish on September 30th. Keep it in your draft folder, but add to it over time to talk about your ritual--how it makes you feel, whether or not it is bringing you happiness, whether you had to change your ritual mid-challenge, whether you'll keep at it indefinitely. If you don't have a blog, keep your thoughts on a Word document that you can send to me right before September 30th and I'll post it for you.
Ideas for Ritual Breaks (or snag one from someone else when they post their choice in the Challenge Post): half-hour of reading time, getting a weekly magazine subscription (and scheduling time to read People...I mean...your magazine of choice), eating at a favourite restaurant once a week on the same day, scheduling in a date night once a week (or a date night-in where you cook dinner together and then he/she gives you a massage), getting out a bunch of cookbooks from the library and teaching yourself how to make dimsum, eating one piece of chocolate right before bed, running for an hour, driving on a favourite road, meditation.

The point is to choose something that will make you happy regardless of how it sounds when you put it into words. It's not about choosing the most challenging ritual or interesting ritual. Just a little moment that will make you happy. And again, if you can do it daily, all the better. If you can only do it once a week, there is more of a chance that it will slip through the cracks.

Once you've decided to participate, let me know so I can link to you. And tell me your ritual so I can add it to the list. Keep tabs on how your ritual is changing your day or level of happiness (damn, and drop your ritual if at any point it is making you unhappy). Feel free to blog about it over the course of the month, but also post a summary of the exercise on September 30th (and you know I'll be sending out reminders for that post).

* A lot of this is my interpretation of the text and my response to his words. I'm also skipping over anything that hasn't been directly helpful for me (isn't it always about me? Selfish bitch). Which is not to say that it wouldn't be helpful for you or for me at a later date. So if this stuff is resonating with you in any way, shape, or form, you should read the book from cover to cover because there is a lot more there.

Curious and want to read more? Come on get happy...


Anonymous said...

Oooh, I wanna join in!

Esperanza said...

Mel, I've been reading your series on Happiness. And talk about making me think. Hmm....very interesting thought process.

Also, does my habit count if I do it now? Have been doing it subconsciously for over a year?

It is really simple. Basically it is my small cup of coffee in the morning. Many times it is my only caffeinated drink, but it just makes me happy because it is a reminder of normalcy.

Shelli said...

What a fantastic idea!!!

I already blogged about it here:

And, I am all in. I could use an exercise in positivity.

C said...

Hey Mel, I want to join in on the challenge...I'm also going to blog right now about the meaning of happiness...Here's my url for it:

Also, I'll get back with ya on what my "happy moment" will be for the 1st challenge.

jenna sais quoi said...

This sounds like something that would really make a difference.

Mine would probably be my girl's night out- we get all dressed up and we go out and act flirty...and discussing anything about children or infertility is off the menu.

It's like a vacation. Or as Dianne put it, a reminder of normalcy.

niobe said...

But (pouting) I like eating sticks of butter.

Honestly though, I can't think of anything that I could do on a regular basis that would make me happy.

Well, actually, I can think of one thing, but somehow I doubt my husband would approve.

niobe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

I think this is a great idea. I definitely need to focus more on being happy and living in the present.

I'm not sure yet what I could do each day to make myself happy. Will you compose a list of what everyone else is doing? I need to think about it some more... but when I figure it out I'll blog about it. :)

RBandRC said...

This is a great idea!

I definitely want in! My ritual will be reading a non-IF/pregnancy related book or magazine before going to bed.

My URL is:

Grad3 said...

I will blog about it this weekend. I know what one will be but it's a weekly thing. Will that sufice?

Kristen said...

I'm definitely in for the Challenge Post!

Although I need to start thinking about a good ritual break :)

Tina / Anxious Changer said...


I will join in the fun... I will e-mail you the link to my happiness post before Friday - I have A LOT of thinking to do about this one...

Ashley said...

I definetly want to join in, I just have to think of a ritual!

LJ said...

This has been extremely difficult for me. I want to think of something new that makes me happy, but one that won't seem like a chore for me.

I keep bookmarking this in hopes I will come back with an idea. For example: I am joining the MontCo Aquatic center and start swimming. I haven't done it since high school, so what if I don't like it? Plus I travel, what if I can't get enough in if I do like it?

I'm a little stumped at the moment, I just have to figure it out in the next few days.

beagle said...

I'm game!

I'll post it at the old and new blog.

My ritual will be of the commmuning with nature variety.

Anonymous said...

Again with the late, but did mine and posted it today. The link will only work for those with my password. Feel free to email me for it.