I am pretty sure I’ve talked about Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project before. The book is upbeat, illuminating, and surprisingly practical. One of the steps I love most is her approach to creating a map of living. Each of us have a different set of goals, a dharma and purpose unlike that of anyone else. It’s helpful to put that down in writing.
These are my 12 personal commandments, which are connected to the secrets of adulthood. I used Rubin’s list as a model, but adapted them to me and my reality. Maybe you have a list of your own you’d like to share.
1. Be Barbara
This is taken directly from Rubin. It reminds me to be ME, not some idealized version of me. Or as my old Unity minister used to say, “I am God expressing as….Barbara.” Which is an exhilarating thought, really.
2. I am 100% responsible for my own happiness
Never as easy as I think it will be. For example, when I am driving and some rude driver cuts me off, how can I be happy? But I can, as my friend Heather does, tell myself another story about the action. Maybe that person has a sick child or is rushing to the beside of his best friend.
This also counts when I am irritated with some aspect of daily life or a person in my life….100% means all the time. The weird thing is, this particular secret carries a huge amount of relief.
3. If I look good, I feel good.
This doesn’t mean trying to be botoxed and skinny. It is to remind me that while it’s okay to wear yoga pants and my hair in a scrunchy while I’m working, I feel 10x better if I get my hair cut on time and wear only clothes I really love. It means putting on the nicer shirt and taking the time to do my hair before CR comes home. Little stuff, that’s all. (And this probably makes me sound like a slob, which would be impossible for a daughter of my mother.)
4. An Uncluttered Environment Leads to an Uncluttered Mind
Simple. I don’t have to have sparkling clean floors, but need to reduce visual clutter as much as possible.
5. Exercise always helps
I need daily walks and fresh air and lots of hard, physical exercise. I am grouchy without it. If I’m cranky or overwhelmed or tired, I almost always need to get outside or go swimming or go work out. The deeper the grumpiness, the more I need to do.
6. Sleep Gives You A Clear Head
I am a morning person. Like, obnoxiously so. I like to wake up early and get going on the day. That means I’m genuinely tired and ready to quit by 8 or 9. Because I grew up with vampires, I sometimes feel sheepish about this and will often try to stay up until 11, like other people. All this does is make me tired. Going to bed with a good book at 9 is a great choice for me.
7. Overindulging Always Has A Price
Just what it says. Too much sugar or wine, too many video games, too many cookies…and I don’t feel great.
8. Work and Meeting Goals Makes Me Happy
I am lucky enough to adore the work I do. Sometimes, however, I can procrastinate myself into a corner and then I have to work too hard to be able to enjoy the process. Much much better to set reasonable goals and show up every day to get the work done. I feel so much better this way.
9. Tracking My Progress Is An Effective Tool for Conscious Living
I am a born diarist, and seeing my day to day habits in black and white makes me aware of what habits and actions actually form the basis of my life. That allows me to be accountable and to make changes if I so desire.
10. Celebrating others makes me feel happy
Everyone likes to be noticed, honored, get presents and cards.
11. Meditation is my way of listening to God
I like meditation, but I am surprised how often I’ll say to myself, “I don’t have time this morning.” Making time makes a difference.
12. I am always practicing to be an elder
Our society revers youth, not elders, but we need our elders to guide and help lead. To be the Wise Woman I hope to be one day, I have to learn what that means, and how to embrace it. That means listening to my elders instead of dismissing them. It means seeking instruction and guidance. It means practicing awareness of what I say and how I say it and how that influences others.
How about you? Can you think of some things you’d put on your list?
9 thoughts on “Adulthood and my personal commandments”
1. To be true to myself.
2. To be my own voice and not let others’ opinions shadow my beliefs and thoughts.
3. To start walking again because I felt so much better when I was doing that. I was up to five miles a day and felt amazing.
4. I’ve climbed the hill and am slowly getting over the slump in my life. For a time it was overwhelming but am thankful to be putting it behind me.
5. To know that it’s okay to make mistakes and to learn from them so I don’t repeat them over and over again. I’m such a perfectionist it can make me rigid and not see another point of view.
6. I’m throwing this one in last. To journal again. Used to do it all the time but then get distracted, busy or whatever and let it go.
Great list, Aida! That’s kind and good. I am a big fan of journaling and find it a thoughtful, soothing, agreeable habit.
Great list, but I adore “I am God expressing as…me,’ and ‘Practicing to be an Elder.’ It’s funny, but for the past two or three years, when everyone else is making resolutions this time of year, I was saying to myself that this would be the year I would get published. This year I am resolving only to live in the moment – to be present for each day, every minute. Not that I won’t strive. I had a spectacular year last year, and am so blessed in spite of my lack of a publishing contract. So why would I obsess?
Thank you for being an inspiration to me. I’m learning, so I’m growing – and am therefore grateful.
I am not of the ME generation. I’m of the ‘What can I do for you’ generation. (like some of your Mom characters) And often, especially at this time of year, I feel as if I’ve abandoned ME. So I pledge to be better to ME and ask, ‘What can I do for you, Tate?’ I love your lists above. I’m going to concentrate more on storytelling and less on writing. And I want to figure out how to get my FB from my pseudonym, Tate McKenna, to my real name, Mary Tate Engels. (it’s a long story.)
Thanks Barbara , for all you share – often I think you’re speaking directly to ME, with inspiration & understanding.
Vaughn, love the photo. Being present is such a great gift to yourself–and not an easy discipline, but I try, too.
Honored, Mary, that you feel that way. (And we managed to get my FB page changed to an actual name instead of the Awriterafoot name I had for years, so just be persistent. Talk to real people.)
Great list. I think I’ll check out that book. The concept of being ME and being responsible for my own happiness is a lesson I am learning every day. I am 148 days (but who is counting!) away from retirement and am exploring who I think I will be in the next chapter of my life. I think I need to start my own official Happiness Project!
Perfect timing, Janell. PERFECT!
Love this. I like your #6, and for me that can be expanded to “know and maximize your best writing times.” I do my best writing in the evening, but I struggle with building a life around it. If I can only learn how to allow myself daytime to do other stuff–fun stuff, necessary stuff–and write at night, then I’d have a more even and balanced life. Right now, it feels too much like indulgence *not* to try to write during the day. But I should try it, shouldn’t I?
Thank you for this. Am printing it out!
Oh, I like this idea so much better than making resolutions in a traditional sense. I’m going to work on this…