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March Madness: Aiming Higher without Hoops

March 21, 2016

I love the serendipitous nature of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project for me because each month, I run across reassurance or prodding that I need just where I am. Since I launched this project just before I had any idea our house would sell and we’d be moving from North Carolina to Nashville, my location and activities have changed, but my basic nature has not.

Even though the sub-subtitle of this chapter is “Work,” I’m only beginning to think about what I’m going to “be” next. For now, I’m thinking a lot about what I’m going to do next, and I’m thinking of today or this week, not the fall or next year.  In the chapter, Rubin mentions that “challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness.” I love that combination.  I kept this quote on my classroom wall during my years teaching high school:


I reminded my students of a truth I need to remind myself occasionally: We are most proud of things that require us to work hard. That’s why learning to play the mandolin (and not starting until after I was fifty) has been so rewarding. I also love novelty. I think I thrive on change to some extent.  Even when I taught the same course semester after semester, I was motivated to change up my syllabus. This kept me from getting bored and helped me to learn along with my students. It kept me fresh.

Another point the author makes in this chapter is the importance to being true to oneself. In her case, she was challenged to start a blog, but she got all kinds of advice about changing the title and about subject matter that didn’t fit what she wanted to do. How liberating to realize that every life decision doesn’t take a majority vote. If she keeps reminding herself of the first of her Twelve Commandments: Be Gretchen, then I also need to give myself encouragement to Be Nancy. That entails finding ways to pursue my wide variety of interests without neglecting my responsibilities and without getting so fragmented that I don’t finish anything.


I have a room filled with boxes, most of them my books or my art and photo projects.  My garage still has enough boxes of things we aren’t quite sure what to do with that we still have to park outside. I have the house to myself, a list of things I want to do. There is also a cardinal sitting on the planter just outside my window. I think I’ll watch a few minutes before I tackle my next project.


And you? Be yourself today. Surprise yourself by trying something new, even something difficult that you’ve always wanted to attempt.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 9, 2016 9:10 pm

    Hmmm . . . I’ll have to think about this one, Cuz! I could try to get back to piano playing, mainly hymns and gospel songs. Or I could get serious about blogging, but I don’t get much enjoyment in sitting at the computer for hours. Or I could read some really good literature, but I’ve become almost addicted to thrillers and mysteries. What to do? What to do? For right now, I’ll probably continue to do webinars for a while.

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