Eleven commandments of happiness (à la Gretchen Rubin)

(Apparently the writer of Genesis was slightly more concise than I am...)

I've been reading a lot about brains these days: specifically about how they work, and what happens when they don't. It's been a wide-ranging set of topics: consciousness, happiness, sleep, the sense of smell, brain injury, depression, bi-polar disorder, and suicide. Not light reading, most of it, but illuminating, and assumption-challenging, and, for the most part, intensely engaging.  Don't get me started, because I can talk about this stuff now for HOURS.

This time I want to share just one thing from one book I've found in my brain-travels: The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.

This is one of those "I'm going to do something for a year and write about it" books—essentially, she does a whole lot of research about happiness, and spends 12 months putting different techniques to use. It's a good book—readable, personable and with enough real science and ancient wisdom behind it to make it more credible than the usual run-of-the-mill self-help dreck.

Not everything she tries resonates with me. I don't feel the need to keep a gratitude journal, and starting each day by singing a) feels contrived and b) would get me evicted. And, to be fair, not everything resonates with HER, either. But one thing that did stand out for me was her list of very personal commandments for happiness. In her case, there are 12, and they include things like "Be Gretchen," "Spend out," and "Do it now." 

Now, the idea behind these is that they should be PERSONAL, so, being the navel-gazing narcissist that I am, I thought long and hard and made up my own. They're not so much commandments, I guess, as they are both ideas I hold at the very core of my value system and need to remember regularly to stay happy. 

Here they are:
  1. Take the more interesting option. (Closely correlated to the phrase, "You can sleep when you're dead." This contradicts #9, but whatever.)
  2. Mercy over justice.
  3. Stop and ask.
  4. There is only love.
  5. All shall be well.
  6. I am enough.
  7. What do I need? (OK, that's a question, not a commandment. Whatevs.)
  8. Knowledge is its own reward.
  9. Say no. (I have a really, really hard time with this one. See commandment #1.)
  10. Be Sara. (Stole that one from Gretchen Rubin.)
  11. Make the effort.
I'll elaborate on these in the next post—this one's getting a little long. (Maybe one of my commandments should be "Use fewer parenthetical asides.") But for now, there they are.

What are your happiness commandments? I'm curious—please share!


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