I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you should have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.
I love any kind of before-and-after, especially with photographs, progress charts, or anything that shows how much change has been accomplished. That’s one reason I love putting gold stars on my Resolutions Chart. (If you’d like to see a copy, see the left-hand column for directions.)
I know many people feel the same way – just look at number of TV based on before-and-after: The Biggest Loser, Pimp My Ride, Extreme Makeover, Trading Spaces, Nanny 911, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy…and what’s the name of that fashion show?
Yesterday, at the gym where I do my strength-training, my trainer showed me the stack of charts that she’d filled in since I started. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I couldn’t believe that I’d shown up that many times. I vividly remember watching her write my name at the top of a page, on my first day.
It occurred to me this morning that it would be fun to ask her to set the machines at the weights I could lift when I started. That would also give me a sense of accomplishment – a “before” and “after.”
I’m planning to re-organize some closets, and to deepen my gratification, I’m going to take “before” pictures so that I’ll have a record of the improvements I’ll have made “after.”
For your Happiness Project, look around in your own life and see if you can find a before-and-after opportunity.
Could you take a photo of a messy car or closet “before,” then another photo “after”?
Could you carefully note your present physical condition, so that if you stick to your exercise routine, you’ll be able to measure how far you’ve come “after” a few months? I remember when I first started running, I ran just a tiny bit further each day, and after six months, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment each time I passed by the place that had been my turn-around point when I’d started.
A “before-and-after” requires a commitment. By documenting your “before,” you’re promising yourself that there will be an “after” – and that fact alone will probably make you more likely to follow through.
Also making progress tangible makes it more rewarding – and we’re more likely to stick with rewarding activities.
If you happen to document your before-and-after on the web, send me the link! And if anyone knows any great sites that show before-and-afters, please post them in the comments – I’m willing to bet that most people would like to seem them as much as I would.
My pal Ron Hogan writes one of my favorite blogs, GalleyCat, and he invited me to tag along when he met Beth Lisick, who wrote a terrific memoir called Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone, in which she writes about the year she spent trying to improve her life by following the advice of ten of America’s best self-help gurus: Suze Orman, Richard Simmons, Jack Canfield, John Gray, etc. (sound a bit familiar?).
He just posted his account of our happiness-filled encounter, which I thought was pretty funny.
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