It always seems to me that my behavior is perfectly appropriate and justifiable, given the circumstances – usually, other people’s failures and faults.
Deep down, though, I know that I am the problem.
I keep thinking of the words of Goethe, “I make the weather.” “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.”
One of my Twelve Commandments is to “Identify the problem,” so I asked myself, “Why have I slacked off in keeping my expectations for myself, and therefore made myself less happy? What’s the problem?”
And I realized that one thing that might be affecting my goal-keeping was that I’d stopped scoring myself on the daily resolution charts I kept last year. Once the official “year” of the Happiness Project was over, although I planned to keep up with all the resolutions, I thought I didn’t need to bother to score myself.
I suspect that this has really made a difference. Going over my extensive scoring chart each day made me accountable to myself, it gave me positive and negative reinforcement (those gold stars I crave!), and it kept me reviewing my vows daily.
Keeping my resolutions really does keep me happy. One major discovery from the Happiness Project is that one of my main sources of unhappiness is feeling remorse for bad behavior. And then I feel even more irritable, defensive, and humorless…it’s not a good cycle.
I just printed out a fresh set of charts and stuck them in my backpack. It looks like this may need to be a lifetime habit.
For me, external order is a key element to internal peace — I’ve found that I’m far more serene when I’m in an environment that’s not cluttered or crowded, and clearing out the junk gives me a big boost of happiness. I got a vicarious clutter-clearing buzz from reading the A Chair is a Closet blog. The “before” and “after” pictures are an inspiration.