How Is Your Happiness Challenge Going?

Unbelievable as this is, the year 2011 is half over. If you’ve joined the 2011 Happiness Challenge, how are you doing?

If you’ve managed successfully to keep even one resolution, give yourself a big gold star. It’s hard to make change; it takes mindfulness, self-knowledge, and self-mastery. I’m often surprised by how hard it is to make even a change that’s pleasant, like my resolutions to Read more or to Jump. Why is it so hard to push myself to do something that I like doing? And yet it is.

Have you followed any resolutions that have made a particular difference to your happiness? I’m always so curious to hear what people have tried, and what has worked. For instance, to my surprise, one of the resolutions I most often hear mentioned is…Make your bed! This is such a small action, but somehow, it seems to make a difference to a lot of people. Go figure.

How have you kept yourself accountable? I use my Resolutions Chart (email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com if you want to see a copy). Some people use the Happiness Project Toolbox. Some people start Happiness Project groups. What has worked for you? Accountability is so important; without accountability, it’s easy to make big plans for change but then end up abandoning them.

Have your tried resolutions that didn’t work? Or that you just couldn’t stick with? I’ve tried to Keep a food journal several times, and for some reason, I just can’t keep that resolution. One of the most challenging, and also most popular resolutions, is the resolution is to Get more exercise. I labored for years to get myself into the habit of regular exercise.

It’s thrilling to see that more than 10,000 people have joined the 2011 Happiness Challenge. If you haven’t signed up, join now. Studies show that taking an action, like signing up, will help you hold yourself accountable for your resolutions. And it doesn’t matter when you start; the important thing is to get started. Each week, here, I post ideas for resolutions that you might want to undertake for your own happiness project. I also post a weekly video with proposed resolutions.

I’m so interested to hear about people’s experiences with their own resolutions. What has and hasn’t worked for you, in your happiness project?

*** Many thoughtful readers reminded me that the year isn’t half over until July 1. Oh, right! Sheesh. Don’t know how I got that wrong! ***

* I was fascinated by this List of most common surnames, by country. Turns out that Smith really is the most common surname in the United States (1.006%).

* If you like the blog, you’ll love the book! Please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

  • Corrie

    Isn’t July 1st the mid-year point?

    Still, great post!

    • gretchenrubin

      Sheesh! you’re right. So…how’s it going so far????

      I feel like an idiot!

      • Corrie

        I’m so sorry! Didn’t mean to make you feel like an idiot!

        It’s just that we celebrate Half-Year Day every July 1st so that’s why I know that.

        I bought my husband a copy of your book and he’s working on his own happiness project too. His happiness is increasing my own. 

  • Corrin

    I loved your book, would definitely urge people to get it. Since reading, I have been re-thinking about my yearly resolutions as a happiness project, since that’s what they really were anyway. 

    One of the most helpful things I’ve found for accountability is an iPhone app called Daily Deeds. You can enter your resolutions, check them off as you do them, and the checklist renews itself every 24 hours. Since it’s on my phone, it’s always accessible which is a key for me. (I have no affiliation with this, just thought if I find it useful other people might too.)

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear about anything that helps with accountability! So tough, so

  • I just wasted away 15 minutes looking around the common surname site. Interesting stuff–thanks for passing along!

    • gretchenrubin

      Strangely fascinating, right? I wish there had also been pronunciation

  • I just started my Happiness Project.  It took me a few weeks to actually figure out the Resolutions and the Commandments.  The Adult Lessons Learned was the most fun and interesting for me to do.  So far I am on day 1 of my Attitude Adjustment Month and I think today I did ok…but figure it is easier the first day, but will see how it goes.  My friends think this is great and can’t wait to see how I do.  Me too!

    • gretchenrubin

      I know, it was surprising to me how much tinkering I did with the actual
      resolutions. It made a big difference when I formulated them properly. Good
      luck with YOUR happiness project!

  • Joyelle Brandt

    I have found that making my bed daily has made a big difference. It’s just nice to start my day knowing that at least one area of my house has some semblance of order 🙂
    I also started keeping a Happiness Art Journal, where I complete one layout a week exploring a happiness topic.
    The resolutions chart is a bit too daunting for me, but I do like keeping a nightly gratitude journal where I write down my favourite moments from the day. It helps to keep track of what was good in the day.

  • LivewithFlair

    Writing “Live with Flair!’  I’ve blogged for over 400 days straight!  The secret for me was to do it everyday, even if I could only write 10 words.  I think that works for exercise too.  Do it even if you have 10 minutes.

  • Brittany Wood

    I’m surprised that I’ve been able to achieve my goals that I set for New Years, because usually it doesn’t take long before I get lazy and go back to my old way!  I think the difference is this time I actually set reasonable and specific goals for myself that I really have an interest in.  It wasn’t “I want to exercise 5 times a week”, it was “in this month I’m going to talk to at least 30 strangers, this month I’m going to reconnect with these friends”, etc.  I think making my goals public on my blog helped a lot too, and helped encourage me to keep going even when I had doubts or was wearing down. 

  • Peninith1

    This year I took up your suggestion to choose one word as a theme for my year. I chose ‘details’ because I knew that I had many detailed bureaucratic and fiscal tasks to take care of if I was to retire by 30 April this year. I am excited to report that thus far I have successfully filled out and submitted my federal retirement application, refinanced my home, paid off a major debt, cleaned up an eight-year period as a state income tax ‘non-filer’ (I paid plenty, just never sent in returns even tho the state owed me money back!), found a big cache of family photos, entertained family members for my retirement celebration, and purchased my long-desired high-performance sewing machine as a retirement present from me to me. I still have some further things to accomplish, but as I checked off each ‘detail’ I felt more and more accomplished. Now I am looking forward to some of those details be about gaining new sewing skills and completing satisfying quilting projects. Your blog is constantly inspiring in all kinds of unexpected ways. I never would have supposed that focusing on a single word could bring such a powerful theme of accomplishment into my life. Thank you very much Gretchen!

    • gretchenrubin

      What a great theme — and so many accomplishments!

  • I just recently heard about your book and started reading it last night. It is pretty amazing and very inspiring. I’m making my lists now.  🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that it resonates with you. Good luck with YOUR
      happiness project!

  • Janet

    I have a general comment about the book, and its aftermath in the form of this blog and the facebook page.  I have hardly participated in these forums, but I nonetheless feel some odd comfort that they exist.
    I believe Gretchen is perhaps trailblazing a new role for the modern day author.  It used to be that you read a book, and that was it.  Fini – until we meet again  in the next book, maybe.

    Now, we get to read abook that never ends, because we now have an open and continuing dialogue with the author and other readers, which in turn seems to spawn yet further activity beyond just a book discussion.   Reading a book suddenly becomes the ongoing and active journey it was always meant to be, rather than just a start and stop event.

    Anyway, my resolution this year was to finally get a good haircut, which I did achieve.  It  doesn’t take much to make me happy.

    • gretchenrubin

      For me, as a writer, the new tools of communication have made my work so
      much richer. To be able to engage with readers on the ideas that fascinate
      me, and which push those ideas further, has transformed the experience.

  •  I have started to read you blogs which is the resolution I have taken and after reading your blogs I really feel that my happiness is coming back.

  •  I have started to read you blogs which is
    the resolution I have taken and after reading your blogs I really feel that
    my happiness is coming back.


    • Virtual are you from india?

      • Hi Groupon clone,

        Yes we are from India and we do Virtual Assistant Services for Small
        business owners but i personally find this “Happiness Project blogs” by
        Gretchen very motivating and interesting too.
        So i make a point to read and leave a comment for her good work.

        Thank you
        virtual Assistant

        • please tell me your real name. and if do you don’t mind so please give me your personal skype id.

  • I’ve had difficulty with a very typical resolution: exercise.  I’ve gotten myself to a point where I enjoy it (a HUGE accomplishment), but working on my feet all day makes it easy for me to justify not wanting to end my day with a trip to the gym.  What I need to research are some nice arm workouts I can do at home, when I just want to get off my feet. 

    However I have been keeping with my resolution to read more.  I love reading, and already read a lot more than most people I know.  Reading makes me happy, and now I go to bed a bit earlier so I can read, rather than staying up watching tv until I pass out.  Definitely an improvement!    

  • Steve

    Hey!  Don’t steal 30 days of the year from me! The half-way point is at the end of this month!

    • gretchenrubin

      I know, sorry about that! I jumped ahead a month.

      • Mairsydoats

        We can think of it as being put on notice that the half-way mark is coming…  🙂

  • Onic

    my passport to happiness plus aka eudaimonia:

  • Linda

    One resolution that I have been able to stick to is doing three sun salutations every morning.  It only takes a few minutes and I find that it is an excellent way to get my blood circulating and stretch my stiff morning muscles. It also gives me a positive start, which increases my chances of staying in that positive direction as I navigate through the day. In the past, I haven’t had much success sticking to resolutions, so I’m happy with my accomplishment.  The key for me is to keep my resolution simple and specific. Thank you, Gretchen!