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Take Time for Projects and Keep a New Family Tradition.

I'm working on my Happiness Project, and you could 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 right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

Many of my resolutions are meant to push me to wander, play, experiment, and appreciate. For example, the resolution to Take time for projects reminds me to undertake big family projects, like making homemade books or putting up holiday decorations. Keep a new family tradition reminds me to look out for new traditions (excuse the oxymoron) that can add to the richness of family life.

These resolutions are hard for me to keep, even though I know they make me happier, because I always have to fight the urge to work. Instead of using the time in these ways, I want to work, or if I’m not working, I want to read in bed. Which sometimes is work, and sometimes is play.

I was thinking about this tension recently, because a friend of mine told me about a wonderful tradition she started with her daughter.

Her new family tradition is “New York Wednesday”: every Wednesday afternoon, she picks up her ten-year-old from school at 3:15 for some kind of New York City adventure. They take turns picking the activity – my friend recently chose a visit to a pretzel-making factory, her daughter, the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition at the Whitney. They have to be home by 5:30 for homework and dinner.

I love this idea, and I want to copy it -- what a wonderful way to have some special time with my daughter. But I also want to work. Never enough time to work! I want the time to think and to write, or at least answer some emails. I’m always itching to be reunited with my computer.

I know, though, that looking back at this time, years from now, those hours will be far more memorable and meaningful if I spend them on an adventure with my daughter than if I spend them at work.

I’m very lucky, because my work is flexible enough that I can take that time, if I decide I want to. The trick is to realize that although the siren call of my work feels more pressing, in the end, I’ll be happier if I use that time in a different way.

So I’m going to do it – set aside an afternoon for an adventure with my daughter. Where will we choose to go? I’m a huge Carl Jung fan and have been wanting to see the Red Book. That’s a thought. What will my daughter pick? Maybe Madame Tussauds?

I know myself. I’ll need to write that adventure into my calendar with indelible pen, and I’ll have to fight with myself not to let work creep into that time. This resolution is getting added to my Resolutions Chart.

I remind myself of the Third Splendid Truth: The days are long, but the years are short.

* I’m fascinated by the concept of umami, the fifth taste that goes with the more familiar sweet, salty, sour, and bitter –- I always love learning about words that describe concepts for which there’s no English word -- so I was interested to read this piece.

* If you’ve never watched my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, you might enjoy it. You can also watch the Today show’s version here.

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