As I come to the end of the first quarter of 2022, I am wondering what the purpose of this challenge of mine is. Why am I racing to publish a blog post every Friday and analyzing every possible new thing I could dip my toes into and then researching and booking and planning and then actually doing them?
Why am I doing this? What is the point?
I’ve been mulling around a few possible contenders for The Point to All of This:
- I am trying to learn to be fun? I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly fun. Fun must be good for you, new things are often fun…
- I am trying to be a good role model for my kids? I think this is a pretty noble one. I want my kids to see their Mom getting out there and trying new things and sucking at them and meeting people and laughing at herself.
- I am trying not to be old? I don’t think this really resonates, but it’s worth writing down. I’m in my 40s and I can see how deep in some of my grooves I am. I kind of just think of myself as 37 or 38 even though that is decidedly not true anymore. So I need to combat the groove settling.
I’ve gone around and around, and when it comes right down to it, I think I know what this is.
I think I’m trying to be happy.
I wouldn’t be the first one to run a Happiness Project and I certainly won’t be the last.
I think there is a bold mental health angle to all of this. I’m a little afraid to admit it, if I’m honest. It feels a little self indulgent and beyond that, it feels more than a little vulnerable to post on yet another Friday blog.
But I think I want to secure my happiness. I think I want to DO something to help myself be happy and stay happy and I think I worry that I am not quite as happy as I could be. And there is this niggling awareness that this is a ME thing, not a situational thing or an anyone else thing.
In the interest of dotting Is and crossing Ts, here is a running list of some of the planned and not so planned new things I have tried since the start of this challenge on January 1st and a glance at if the Happiness sticker fits:
Random New Things I’ve Tried, Big and Small, In No Particular Order and Whether They’ve Impacted My Happiness
1. Escape Room
This was my “new thing” for March. It was my 7 year old son’s idea and it was all kinds of chaos. There were highs and lows, we thought we were doing really well… and then realized there was not ONE additional room to get through but TWO, it was pandemonium.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, started in 1938 and considered one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, has found that the people who lived long and happy lives are those who leaned into relationships, such as those with their families. Sure, analysis by sociologist Jennifer Glass (Parenthood and Happiness) found that, for women, having kids is associated with a 3 or 4 percentage point decline in happiness… but there is obviously so much to dig in there.
I know it’s only one data point, but it made me happy to make one of my son’s life long goals, to discover an Escape Room (about pirates, no less!) a reality. Sure, it could have been fun to make a boozy evening of it with some friends, but tackling it with my family was sweet and I’m glad we could do it together.
Happiness Rating: 7/10 I mean, it’s solving puzzles with children. I’m not the Dalai Lama or whatever…
2. New Dairy Queen Blizzard Flavour: Oreo Mocha Fudge
I ALWAYS get one of two things when I go to Dairy Queen: An Oreo Blizzard or a Reese’s Blizzard. These are EXCELLENT choices because Oreos are a comfy taste explosion that never gets old and chocolate and peanut butter is a match invented by a generous angel of harmony and happiness.
From a scientific standpoint we are going to focus on the fact that sugar gets right out there and increases the action of dopamine and releases endorphins and endocannabinoids!
Hey! Looky over here! Never mind those terrifyingly educational programs out there like That Sugar Film or Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush or Sugar Coated or Sugar Crash or whatever! Eyes on the prize, dopamine, baby!
Happiness Rating: 8/10 Okay, I didn’t feel great after this one but it did taste so so good and I did do this with my son and he was so excited to have his ice cream cone!
My “new things” for February, both of these experiences were just lovely. Hugs of connection.
Happiness Rating: 10/10
I signed up for Noom (“a subscription-based app for tracking a person’s food intake and exercise habits. The company is known for its emphasis on behavior change and mental wellness” source: Wikipedia) about a week ago. It’s only been a week, and I am not a sign-up-and-pay-for-the-app person but so far I am loving it. Beginner’s enthusiasm? Maybe. But maybe there is more to this:
“Research suggests that ‘healthy’ food choices such as eating fruits and vegetables have not only physical but also mental health benefits and might be a long-term investment in future well-being. This view contrasts with the belief that high-caloric foods taste better, make us happy, and alleviate a negative mood” (source)
I love, love, love Doritos and a glass of pinot noir, but there is no denying I have slept better in the last week than I have in ages and even though this last week has been a chaotic mish-mash of Spring Break kid activities and work, my outlook has been… sunny.
Happiness Rating: 9/10 I would rather drink the pinot noir AND have the great sleep. This is obvious, right?
5. Pizza: Mediterranean with Hummus
John and I went out for dinner a couple weeks ago and I decided to try something different and for some reason I decided on this.
No. Pizza is supposed to have cheese on it. This was a “new thing” mistake.
Happiness Rating: 2/10 There was still pizza dough and wine, not all was lost.
I bought a tarot deck and new pants (I rarely shop), I drank an Old Fashioned (I never drink whiskey, but I have been wrong all this time, they are delicious), I started volunteering at a food bank and I got myself one of those jade face rollers. I got a mammogram (rather than putting that appointment off forever) and booked a call to go over our finances and went axe throwing.
I am taking taking new roads and answering the phone and I am posting “publish” every Friday.
I wouldn’t say I have happiness figured out by any stretch… but, when it gets down to it, I wonder if this is the challenge I am trying to solve with this 2022 adventure.
Is this all about trying to find happiness?
I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. March is Escape Rooms. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…