But Gretchen (yes, we're first-name-basis friends, of course) says that treats- not necessarily food or anything that costs money- can help us feel good about ourselves, in control, and cared for- all things that do boost happiness without spending money or calories. And I can tell a difference in days that include one or all of these things- I'm in a better mood, I feel more productive, and I get energy to tackle things that aren't quite happiness boosters.
-Play the piano- now, this might not boost the happiness of anyone listening (typically just Alice, who doesn't seem to mind =), but if I sit down for just a few minutes and play through a song or two (or sometimes more!) I feel calm and even slightly accomplished (depending on the difficulty of the music.) Side note- if your kids are taking piano and wanting to quit, please don't let them unless they are just completely miserable. (Even then...) One of my biggest regrets is not taking lessons in college and not really practicing in high school. Such a waste of great talent.... not. But I still regret it!
I love my white piano! My BFF Sara is a wizard and painted it for me when she was here.
-Ride my bike- this one hasn't been happening lately because it's just SO hot and I can't really bring myself to exercise outside when I know I'll be totally soaked within a few minutes. (Ew.) But typically riding around the neighborhood just fills me with happiness, especially since bike riding was one of my very favorite things as a kid. They say if you don't know what to do with your life to look back at what you enjoyed when you were ten years old, and this is at the top of that list. Plus riding a bike is one of the most rewarding forms of exercise to me because you don't have to exert that much energy to feel like you've accomplished something (it takes just a few minutes to leisurely ride a mile.) It helps that my bike is so pretty! =)
-Read- to myself and Alice- you knew this would make the list, didn't you? I mostly read to Alice at night when she's sleepy and less likely to crawl away or try to rip the pages =) but I've also started reading to her when she's in her high chair or rolling seat- aka trapped! We're almost through the Ramona books and I'm deliberating what to start next with her. (We do chapter books while she eats before bed and picture books the rest of the time- my favorites are these forever and ever.) But of course I find time every day to read by myself too. (Read more about that here.) I get antsy if I'm not reading something (even if that means renewing it the maximum number of times before I finish.) Reading is my time to learn or think or sometimes just escape (in the best way of course, not a "my baby has been shrieking for an hour" way. Never! =)
If you wanna read you gotta go to the library- and wearing matching colors doesn't hurt! (Also this is an old picture and Alice looks so tiny. =(
-Straighten up the house- since I'm home all day and therefore don't have the busy in-and-out shuffle that used to accompany my teaching life, I keep my house pretty clean. (Actually when Sara was here she said I was OCD, but that's neither here nor there. Maybe I am a little. =) I guess since I'm here all the time I get more annoyed by clutter? Either way, I don't deep clean every day (obviously) but I take the time to clear the counters, table, and main areas (including Alice's room) throughout the day and that helps me tremendously to not feel overwhelmed by a "dirty house." Also Jonathan is a big help and keeps the dishwasher loaded/unloaded for me. #besthusband
-Bible study- this is something that I stay much more consistent with if I'm actually involved in a specific study and not just randomly choosing a topic or chapter on my own. For a long time I felt like a bad Christian because I wasn't, you know, doing a Hebrew word study with my husband's massive Bible commentaries, but I've come to accept the fact that there are other women who have written great Bible studies- for other women!- and I can benefit from their research and wisdom. Since (to us another Gretchen Rubin term) I'm an Obliger, I am much more productive when I create outer expectations and accountability, so getting involved in Bible studies at church works for better for me in this way. Our most recent study was Missing Pieces by Jennifer Rothschild and it was excellent.
It's worth noting that not that everything that makes us happier makes us feel happy in the moment. For example, making my bed doesn't fill me with some rush of joy, but seeing my bed made, especially since I've recently bought a new quilt and pillows, does make me happy. Exercising definitely doesn't make me happy while I'm puffing and sweating and wanting to STRANGLE those perky girls in the background (aren't they the worst??) but I do feel happier when I've exercised. And I'm not necessarily happy while I'm cleaning my house but few things make me happier than a clean house. As my papaw used to say, "The joy is not always in the doing but in the having done."
I wish I could say I made my bed every day (hangs head in shame) but I do try! I used to be really hardcore about it but then when I became a total sloth while pregnant I got out of the habit. At least it's pretty when I do. =)
What are things that are important to you and make you happy every day? "Reading your blog, Ashley!" Why, you're too kind. =) Seriously, though, let me know! I'm endlessly fascinated by this kind of stuff. And maybe I'll get some ideas, too. (Such as "fix my hair," "put on makeup," "wear real clothes and not pajamas." Oh, and "work out." Yikes!
(Although here I must quote Jim Gaffigan: "I'm going to the gym EVERY DAY."
*next day* "Well not every day. I gotta let my muscles breathe a little."
*next day* "I don't wanna get caught up in that beauty culture." Ha! Seriously... my struggle.)
P.S. If you want to learn more about this stuff, definitely read any of Gretchen Rubin's books. So interesting and practical!