I’m having a great time in Kansas City. On the very day we arrived, we went to the pool, the library, and the best hamburger place in the country, Winstead’s. We visited the duck pond, and the Big Girl fell in–traumatic when it happened, but sure to be a highlight of her childhood.
But I noticed something strange about myself before I left New York. My happiness-project discipline crumbled. Knowing that I was leaving town somehow made me feel as if all rules were suspended.
First, a few weeks ago, I had to stop buying Nutritious Creation’s chocolate-chip cookies. I love these big cookies so much that I was eating them all the time, so I decided to give them up entirely. But my last day in New York I ate three. I think my subconscious thinking went something like, “These cookies aren’t available in Kansas City, so even if I break my resolution now, I’ll have no trouble sticking to it once I leave. So I should go ahead now.”
Second, in April, I focused on strengthening friendships and being more loving. One of my resolutions was to give up gossip and idle criticism. Well, just before leaving for Kansas City, talking to the Big Man, I launched into a disparaging analysis of a guy I know. Bottom line: he has bad values. I think my criticism was valid, but why make it? I felt self-righteous in my criticism of him, but own behavior was mean-spirited and unkind. Again, I think I was rationalizing, “You’re going on vacation! Indulge a little.”
The cookies and the bout of mean talk had much the same effect. The indulgence felt deliciously wicked and satisfying–until I was finished. Then I felt terrible.
That’s the annoying thing about the lessons of the Happiness Project. These aren’t rules that can be followed for a month, then checked off the list. People keep asking me, “So how long are you going to do all this?” The answer is, “From now on, as best as I can manage.”