Resolving to be happier

Senior Contributor
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Sullivan.jpgNew Year's resolutions often include specific changes, like eating healthier, exercising more, or finally getting a handle on the clutter in the mudroom. Finding inspiration in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I have made a resolution that is simultaneously simple and very complex: be happier.


Like the author of this must-read book, I first felt almost selfish making this resolution. After all, what have I got to be unhappy about? I am married to my best friend, we have three healthy children, I have a job that I love and that lets me be at home with my boys, and I actually like my parents. I'm healthy, I have a home that is safe and cozy, and I will never have to worry about not being able to feed my children. If many people in this world looked at my life, they'd trade places with me in a minute.


The thing is, I am happy. I'm not embarking on this project because I'm unhappy. I'm not depressed, sad, or even a little glum. But there's always room for improvement, right? If your vehicle is running smoothly, you still get the oil changed every 3,000 miles. Your car needs maintenance to keep running, and your life needs maintenance to keep happy.


So, how am I going about achieving this lofty resolution? Like Gretchen Rubin, I'm thinking about things that stress me out or weigh on me, and taking charge of my own life to fix them. In her case, she named 12 areas to focus on (clutter, work, family time, etc.). Then she focused on one of those areas for each month of the year. In January, she tackled clutter.


Clutter is a major issue for me as well. My boys are 8, 10, and 12. I have hand-me-downs galore that I'm holding on to (not to mention clothes for myself in a wide range of sizes), but I need to be honest with myself about what we're actually going to wear again, and give the rest to friends or Good Will.


There are a few rooms in my house that are overrun with clutter (toys and clothes being the biggest issues), and we're not using those rooms like we could because of it. I long to have a clutter-free bedroom that's an oasis for me and my husband. Right now it looks like a closet exploded in the room. The boys' playroom is a disaster. You take your life in your own hands walking across that room ... the floor is scattered with Legos, and anyone who has ever stepped on one of those little suckers can tell you it's like a knife in the foot. You get the picture.


So, I'm starting with clutter, too. But like all of you, I'm busy. It's hard to find the time to tackle a huge cleaning and organizing project. I have to just make time. I could spend less time online or doing other unproductive things. I know once it's done, I will be happier. My husband will be happier. My kids will be happier. My house will be happier. It has to happen.


Once the clutter is contained, I'm moving on to time managment, making family memories, maintaining/fostering friendships, and other areas of my life that need a boost. Stay tuned!


Above: This is me and my family in my "happy place," a spot near where I grew up in northwest South Dakota, called Sullivan Place. I did a lot of fishing and running around here with my family as a kid. When I need a moment of peace, I imagine the breeze blowing through the cottonwoods, the river rushing past, and the sound of meadowlarks singing their tune. Taking my kids there is one of my greatest pleasures. My youngest son, William Jerald Sullivan Prater, was named after this peaceful spot.


1 Comment
Senior Contributor

I understand what you are feeling. We did some work on the house and that forced me to move lots of stuff. I purged a lot of things I was holding on to for various reasons. I realized that I did not want my children to have to deal with this stuff if I die early.  Once I got started it became easy.