2019 Happiness Project: Final Recap

It’s official: the new decade is here! After two weeks of visiting family and relaxing in my hometown, I went back to work on Monday and have been getting back into my routine this week. Now that I’ve settled back into daily life, I’ve had time to really reflect on the last year and the role that my Happiness Project played in it.

For those who don’t know or are new to the blog, I embarked on a Happiness Project in January 2019, inspired by the book of the same name by Gretchen Rubin. Each month, I selected a theme focused on a particular area of happiness, and took on a few new practices to see if they really boosted my happiness or not. From de-cluttering my home to making time for friends to incorporating hygge in my life, each month had a life of its own, as I focused on new goals.

Of course, the million dollar question is: did my Happiness Project make me happier? (drumroll please)

The purest form of happiness for me: having an unexpected animal encounter at an event.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, my answer is yes! 2019 was admittedly a difficult year for me. I spent the beginning of the year grieving the cruel illness and eventual passing of a loved one whom I’d always considered my biggest supporter in life. (I still think about her all the time.) I was in a minor car accident that had to go to arbitration. I faced my own share of health issues, experienced a difficult rejection, and found myself more burned out and anxious than ever for the first half of the year.

Having said that, pursuing a Happiness Project always gave me a goal to reach for. My Happiness Project allowed me to shift my focus, change my perspective, and reframe my challenges in a more positive light. Over time, the project gave me something to look forward to and helped me turn a very negative attitude around (because I really needed to). My monthly themes seemed to pop up at almost exactly the right times, and I truly feel that I ended 2019 in a much better and brighter place than I started it.

Hanging out at WAMU, Washington DC’s local NPR station, during my Happier Labor Day month.

For anyone looking to make a change and turn things around in 2020, a Happiness Project is a great place to start. By choosing monthly themes that apply to you personally and breaking your goals into bite-sized pieces, you really can develop lasting habits. While some stuck for me more than others, I still ended the year healthier, more productive, way less stressed out, and ultimately happier.

In 2020, I don’t plan to tackle another Happiness Project, but I do plan to incorporate a lot of what I learned into my daily life. I still have a lot of goals for the year, which I will be sharing soon on the blog as well! Stay tuned for those, and be sure to let me know what you’re working on as well.

For those interested in what I did each month, you can check out a quick overview (and links to recaps) below!

January: Boost Physical Wellness

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

February: Create Outer Order

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks.

March: Practice Mindfulness

  • Write down the happiest moment of my day.
  • Meditate and use positive affirmations.
  • Turn complaints into happiness.
  • Create my list of personal commandments (and follow them).
  • Practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques.

April: Slow Down and Lighten Up

  • Enjoy a cup of tea in the morning.
  • Light candles or diffuse essential oils after work.
  • Under-react to a problem.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Laugh out loud.

May: Make Time for Friends

  • Practice “reverse gossip.”
  • Remember birthdays.
  • Show up.
  • Be generous.
  • Bring people together.

June: Learn Constantly

  • Dedicate time to writing.
  • Work on learning a new technology.
  • Find places in the day to squeeze in an extra 15 minutes.
  • Work on an original piece.
  • Enjoy now.

July: Reset Physical Health

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast.
  • Practice yoga nidra meditation before bed.
  • Drink 100 oz of water per day.
  • Incorporate healthy movement.
  • Practice mindful food hygiene.

August: Digital Detox

  • Ask yourself “why” when you pull out your phone.
  • Choose periods of time to power off.
  • Switch to airplane mode during workout times or other tasks.
  • Use an alarm clock instead of your phone.

September: Work Smarter

  • Observe “Happier Labor Day” (of course).
  • Declutter work space.
  • Go outside.
  • Send one positive email per day to thank or praise someone.
  • Pursue professional development opportunities.

October: Contemplate the Heavens

  • Rise above the worries.
  • Learn more about my heritage.
  • Find ways to make others happy.
  • Use 5 Minute Journal to incorporate gratitude.
  • Work on a meditation practice.

November: Explore

  • Be a tourist without leaving home.
  • Visit my happy place.
  • Get my nature fix.
  • Create a lifetime bucket list.
  • Explore someplace new.

December: Give Back

  • Help a friend.
  • Practice random acts of kindness.
  • Give back to a cause I believe in.
  • Be generous.

What are you working on in 2020? Do you have a Happiness Project in the works? Sound off and share what you’re working on!

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