Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are you happy now?

And so it is... the big day!  The launch of my website.  This really needs to be a momentous blog entry, 'don't it Guv'nor?'  Well, it will be a HAPPY one, at least.

So, drum roll...fanfare...standby Barry Manilow and let fly with your double dream jazz hands.  We are live in 3-2-1.  Cue content!

I've been doing a lot of 'reframing' recently.  No, I don't mean discovering my inner Martha Stewart and crafting with decoupage, mounts and the like, but reframing my thoughts: viewing a potentially negative situation and choosing to focus on the positives.  I know--cringe--it sounds incredibly 'Polyanna'-esque and if you are vomiting in your throat right now, or even just a dry heave, I don't blame you.  You see, that's what I thought, until I tried it.  Oh yes, I was once, quite, quite miserable.

Now, this 'reframing' mullarky is by no means a novel thought, the internet is full of self-titled 'Life Coaches' harping on about 'reframing thoughts and the law of attraction', even the American Heart Association promotes it as a coping mechanism to de-stress.  However, I wasn't spurred on to behave in this happy vein by crashing into it on the superhighway--though I did use it when I crashed on the actual highway (see below), but I stole it directly from author Gretchen Rubin.  Her book, #1 New York Times bestseller 'The Happiness Project', suggests reframing, as well as other strategies, to help fulfill one's happiness quota.

Gretch did oodles of research (I scanned her references.  Long.  Impressive.  It would have taken me several years to read the list of research tomes, let alone take on the year long project AND write the book).  Shamelessly, I have done no such analysis, but instead, I am offering Self up to the Happiness Gods and I'm Jekylling it!

So what, pray, have I discovered thus far?  Is positively reframing a free form of valium?  Am I slathering at the mouth with all the saccharine cheer?  Do I still want to scream when friends' children wipe their snot on my dry-clean only suede trousers?

Actually, focusing on the good things, and making time in my day to do the things I enjoy, (and often deny myself), is making me happier than I have been in a long time.

I am not going to bore you with the laundry list of converted negatives, but--what's that?  Oh, you want to read what I could possibly have to feel peeved about!  Well, okay, just so you have a mental picture, this example is fairly recently ingrained in my memory.  Imagine: life happens, snow falls, ice freezes, car tires lose traction, careens across the interstate and Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt and I'm the mother of a hideously expensive car accident!  Oh deep joy! 

Old Self would have cried, perhaps thrown herself on the State Trooper and cried some more.  Then she would have felt utterly miserable and, whilst suffering the cold for five hours without even a biscuit at Stew's Auto Body Shop, waiting an eternity for the rental car to appear, she would probably have phoned everyone in her Contacts, wailing and bemoaning her lot.  'No body knows the troubles I seen...'

New Self did not.  New Self reframed. (Yes, am feeling v. smug and grown up about this.)  New Self coped ON HER OWN.
Okay, maybe I did phone a couple of people and I had a nice chat with the Onstar lady, but I did not cry.  Well, not until my mum phoned, but that's different.  To everyone else I held it together as I thought, 'It's okay, I'm not dead.'

This is a brilliant 'reframer' because it really does work for everyone in whatever situation! 
'Oh lordy, that dang price of gas has gorn up ag-geen.  But, no matter Alma-Jean 'cause at least I'm not dead!'
See!  So pop that one in your Reframing Armory because anyone can use it!
(Except, perhaps, Joan Rivers.  Don't be fooled, someone in Hollywood is just a really talented ventriloquist.)

Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project suggests various other strategies and I won't go on ad nauseam, but these are the ones I have implemented thus far:
1) Decluttering. Check.
Actually, I hired an assistant for my other J.O.B. and she de-cluttered, but now, I see surfaces, Sweetie, SURFACES!  And yes, this has brought me untold joy.  You have to understand that pre-Operation Declutter, there was a paper landslide covering my desk, dining table, coffee table, bedside table; in fact, it had spread to the outerreaches, chair seats and even *gasp* the floor.  Quite frankly I am just thrilled to have somewhere to sit.
2) Sing in the morning. Check.
This has never been a problem for me.  (Only for my neighbours).  And, Ms. Rubin, I have gone one better, because not only do I sing, but I also dance at the same time, arabesquing across my kitchen, and double dream hands-ing in the shops.
3) Exercising/being good to yourself. Check.
I am giving Self the gift of doing this everyday, because my little time on the treadmill makes me happy.  Miserable Me would have not allowed Self a work out if time were pressed.  New Happy Me insists upon it.  Now, although this is being good to Self, I do want to point out the potential pitfalls (or, as I like to call them, 'shitfalls') of working out. 
You could say that I am Happiness-Greedy, but I like to think I'm just a multi-tasker, because I go for double-happy: running on the treadmill whilst watching the talk show 'Ellen'.  Do you know how hard it is to run at top speed when you are doubled over laughing; when the dancing-Christmas-white-jumpsuited 'Elfis Presley' skips on set and falls over and you can't do anything but convulse, gripping on to the handrails and hoping to all that is holy that the machine slows down before you fall off.
Well, it ain't easy and if you happen to laugh too hard it can result in grazed knees/a chipped tooth/broken nose.  (I only sustained one of the three, but I was lucky--see!  Behold the reframing!)

I do have more resolutions to implement, as per Rubin's book, I need to write Eleanor's Manifesto and I want to complete my list of commandments.  The Happiness Project is a fully functioning website, with tools to track your progress, words of encouragement and using it brings a certain accountability by just typing goals down and putting it out there.  Do visit:

I'll let you know how it goes, but for now there seem to be no adverse effects from being positive.  No Mr. Hyde's have surfaced, foaming at the mouth, raging through the streets of Clarks Summit.  With surfaces to recolonize, time to write, to read, to sing, to leap in the kitchen, to run whilst laughing, I am feeling pretty happy.  Screw the car, the price of gas, the grazed knees and the lack of Oscar nomination, it's okay I'm not dead.