2009 was a bit rough for me. Indeed, I heard that from a lot of people.
So Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project was a welcome addition to my before-bed reading because, well, it makes me happy and gave me new energy to start 2010 off on an upbeat note.
Top pointers from the book include:
• Your family is only as happy as it’s least happy member. If that’s you, start a Happiness Project of your own and raise the happy in your household considerably.
• As a kid, and even through our 20s, we had clear opportunities for “gold stars” — getting good grades, graduations, awards, new jobs, marriage, big birthday celebrations etc. But in your 30s, those gold stars seem fewer and farther between. You do your job, you do your errands, you raise your kids, you try to make time for fun with your significant other… but as you put in so much effort, you feel unappreciated. Where’s your gold star? Rubin advises all of us to make a list, do your stuff and then give yourself a gold star. That’s what being a grown-up is about.
• Be Yourself. I know, it’s clichéd, but Rubin’s description of how she decided to “Be Gretchen” inspired me to be clear about who I am. She writes that learning to be herself means “accepting my true likes and dislikes… I have to face the fact that I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn. I won’t be admired for my chic wardrobe or be appointed to a high government office. I love fortune cookies and refuse to try foie gras.” What does it mean to be you?
The Happiness Project isn’t quite a self-help book — it’s more of a memoir of a year of research into self-help — but even without quizzes and action lists, it does the job of any good personal improvement book: It inspires. Check it out and make 2010 your year for a Happiness Project of your own.
A new CatholicMatch.com poll has given us some data to prove what we already know: The holidays are a tough time to be single. Among more than 3,700 online CatholicMatch users polled in the December survey, 40% said that Christmas was the roughest time of the year to be unhitched… with New Year’s Eve a close second with 32% putting it in the number one “ugh” slot.
“I think all holidays are bad without someone special to share them with, but I have my family for most of them,” reported Michelle-407188. “I would have to say the worst is New Years. New Years is for being with close friends! I is way more fun to share it with someone special then alone!”
Women were slightly more likely to vote their solo New Year’s as most depressing – 35% of women compared with 28% of men – and the older you were, the worst it seemed to watch the ball drop without someone to smooch at the end.
If you’re ringing in the New Year solo this year, try to get with a larger group of friends and head out to a party or local bar. There will be other singles there, too, and who knows who you might meet. Or try online dating: It’s going to be a New Year’s Resolution for many to get online to find a good match.
A few other tips for finding true love in 2010:
1. Get out there. No, seriously. Leave your house. I hear from many of you who tell me you’re looking for a relationship, but you’re too tired to go out when you come home from work, or you spend Friday and Saturday nights with your closest friends at someone’s house. God is very powerful, but it seems unlikely that Mr. or Ms. Perfect will appear with flowers outside your door. Go out and meet some new people!
2. Host a singles pot-luck dinner party. Invite four single friends, and tell each friend to bring a single friend—and something to eat. Make sure you’ve got even numbers of guys and girls, and see what happens!
3. Use props. Dating coach Nancy Slotnick recommends wearing or carrying something unique with you to provide a conversation starter. I have a friend who wears six watches on one arm, and another who has various funny-sloganed pins all over her bag. Even a hat might do the trick…(Check out a Q&A I did with her a few years back.)
4. Take a class. Boys, cooking school classes are a great way to meet girls. Ladies, your local climbing gym, perhaps? Classes where it will only be your same gender don’t count. Mix things up a bit!
5. Ditch your bad attitude. When someone pays you a compliment, do you explain yourself, downplay yourself or otherwise diminish the achievement? Be positive and upbeat—and be free with your compliments to others as well.
6. Throw out your list. So many of us have a checklist of things we’re looking for in a mate. “He has to be these 10 things and then I’ll know he’s the one…” or “As long as she can be all the best of myself, my mother, my sister and my best friend all combined, she’ll be perfect.” I met the man who was all 10 things on my “perfect-match” list…and he was a total dud. Love evolves, emotions can surprise you. And you’re not perfect, so your partner won’t be either!
7. Girls, ditch your “Cinderella Complex.” You are a successful accomplished woman in your own right. You don’t need to be rescued. Your success and accomplishments enable you to broaden your horizons in your search for a husband. The idea that you would only marry a man who has more education and makes more money than you do is antiquated—and might cause you to overlook your soul mate.
8. Guys, leave your ego at the door. Among men and women in their 20s and 30s, the majority of college grads are women—and women also make up the majority of master’s degree recipients as well. Women are climbing in the ranks in every career—including those that were traditionally male-dominated. If you meet a SWANS (Strong Woman Achiever No Spouse don’t be intimidated! Be proud of her success and enjoy all the benefits.
9. Enjoy being single. Ninety percent of Americans marry, so odds are good that you will meet the right match for you and get married. And once you meet the person you’re going to marry, you’ll never have another first kiss, or that rush of adrenaline when you wonder whether the words “I love you” might burst out. You’ll look back on your single years and wonder why you were so worried all the time. Have fun, be confident in your odds of meeting the right person and enjoy all those nights out with friends and new potential dates. Enjoy the ride!
10. Check out Gretchen Rubin’s new book, The Happiness Project. … and create a Happiness Project of your own that involves finding out who you are. Remember, before you can say “I love you,” you must first know how to say the “I.”
But single or married, engaged or having relationship problems, I wish you blessings and new joy for 2010. I hope this new year, this new decade is one of love, laughter and happiness for us all.
Happy New Year!
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