The 2017 Happiness Project

3 Jan

HappinessSomething I’ve learned over the years is that happiness is not something you can seek or plan. You just have to allow yourself to feel it. To notice and appreciate the good things in life — no matter how small — that make you smile. Hopefully on a regular basis.

With so much negativity in the world, that can sometimes be hard. And this year, it may prove extra challenging.

So, to proactively prevent another sucky year like 2016 was, I want to do whatever I can to focus on my own happiness — and hopefully, in the process, share that happiness with others.

Experts suggest that one way to be a happier and calmer person is to keep a gratitude journal, and that’s what I’m going to do. Again. I’ve decided to bring back my Happiness Project — a year-long diary-like blog post in which I document one thing every day that made me smile. (Kind of like an abbreviated version of the journals I used to keep when I was in high school.) I did this in 2015, and it proved quite effective: Even on days I was frustrated, sad, angry, or generally unhappy, there was always at least one thing worth remembering. (And yes, the name is a nod to Gretchen Rubin, whose own Happiness Project started as an experiment and became a best-selling book and movement.)

Here’s how this will work: For the next year, at the end of every day, I’m going to update this blog post by writing down one thing that made me happy, whether that’s something I did, something I ate, something somebody said, a music lyric or line of movie dialogue that resonated with me, a tweet, a significant event in the world, or something else. It’s just that simple. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, or even the most significant thing — just something that made me smile.

The goal is to be more mindful and present, so I can maintain my happiness and positive attitude no matter what happens this year. And if I’m happier, maybe I’ll be healthier, too.

After all, as Groucho Marx once said, “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

On that note, here’s what made me happy every day in 2017.

April 27

April 26
I wasn’t sure whether the pants I was wearing today were black or navy. Initially, I thought they were black, so I wore a black belt and black shoes and socks. But then, when I went outside, I had second thoughts. So I went back inside and changed to a brown belt, brown shoes, and navy socks. Turns out that was the right decision: my pants were, in fact, navy. Phew!

April 25
Today was one of those random days where both of my teammates left “early,” so I was able to leave the office before 5:30 and get home at a decent hour.

April 24
Got my tax refund check in the mail today. That’s a nice chunk of change that’ll come in handy during my trip to Nashville this summer.

April 23
Bubby made a random, surprise appearance in my dream last night. I was so happy to see her that I gave her a giant hug. Yes, I know it wasn’t real. But I still woke up with a smile on my face.

April 22
Since I waited more than a week to see The Fate of the Furious (not necessarily by choice), I decided to go see it in IMAX at the Jordan’s in Natick, and it was worth it. Fun flick, and I especially loved seeing/hearing Helen Mirren say “the devil’s bunghole.”

April 21
It’s always nice to get a second wind on a Friday night, so I can stay up and watch the entire episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.

April 20
After three days of staying home, I was happy to be back in the office today.

April 19
My doctor told me today I most likely don’t actually have pneumonia. So that was good, even if he didn’t completely rule it out.

April 18
As “easy” as Passover was this year (all things considered), it’s always nice when it’s over. And tonight, I definitely enjoyed my pasta dinner from Comella’s.

April 17
Beautiful day today — for the spectators more than for the runners, anyway — and since I was “working from home,” I was able to enjoy the marathon a bit. I love today.

April 16
A beautiful, warm day gave me incentive to leave my apartment today … and go to the Urgent Care center, where I learned I don’t have a “man cold,” I have pneumonia. So, while that didn’t make me happy, I am glad I know why I’ve been sick. Now I just have to get better.

April 15
Spent nearly the entire day today on my couch, but it was “productive:” I caught up on every show waiting for me on my DVR. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow.

April 14
I’m not happy that I’m sick again, but I am (sorta) happy that I decided to leave work early today and go home to get under the covers and take a nap. (Or try to take a nap, anyway.)

April 13
Thank God for Seder leftovers, which allow me to have dinner ready quickly during Passover when I’ve spent a late(r) night in the city.

April 12
Few things say happy Passover like the smell of a freshly baked Manischewitz coffee cake permeating your apartment. Mmmmmm …

April 11
Got to see Dad happy a couple times today: When I picked him up from work, and when he was smiling and laughing during the Seder tonight. That was really nice.

April 10
Left Boston later than planned, but still arrived to meet Mom and Dad earlier than expected. #FTW

April 9
Today was a near-perfect Spring day: Beautiful weather, the kind where you can’t help but roll down your windows and turn up the volume on your radio; crowded city with everyone seemingly in a good mood; a nice walk across town; good parking karma; and all of that capped off with a great time at the John Mayer concert. Hooray!

April 8
Last night, David Letterman inducted Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and by this morning, there were already multiple videos of it on YouTube. It was so good. I miss Dave. But God Bless the Interwebs.

April 7
Today I registered for 826 Boston’s Half Half Half Half Half Marathon (that’s approximately .826 miles. Of course it is). So, that’ll be fun. And easy.

April 6
Mentioned to a friend on Twitter today that I was probably going to Nashville this summer, and he said he’d join me. So now I’ll have someone to hang with for a couple days when I go.

April 5
Went with a couple coworkers to try the brand new Texas-style BBQ joint Shed’s today at lunch. It was real good. This is going to be dangerous having it so close to my office.

April 4
Went to lunch later than I wanted, and it was rainy and gross out, but thankfully, Casa Razdora still had some chicken parm left. (Typically, they run out just after 1pm.) So I had a delicious lunch after all.

April 3
Baseball is back, and the Red Sox won their first game. Woo hoo!!

April 2
I had been thinking about going to L.A. this summer, but after posting something on Facebook and Twitter about possibly going to Nashville instead, and getting a lot of encouragement about how great it would be, I’m excited about the prospect of that. Now I need to get on with booking the trip.

April 1
Spent a bit of time today reading the new EW “untold stories” issue. It’s a lot of fun — and I haven’t even gotten to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cover story yet!

March 31
They call her #UberBae. And she has quite a story to tell. Reading it made my morning commute today so much better.

March 30
Went to use up a Brooks Brothers gift card before it expired, and found a nice shirt that was only available in Regent, the slim fit. Thankfully, it actually fit me well. So I bought it.

March 29
Finally ate at Eataly tonight. Had the Tagliatelle. It was delicious!

March 28
I learned today that Baby Driver, a movie I’m very much looking forward to seeing, will now be released six weeks earlier than planned, on Wednesday, June 28 instead of Friday, August 11. So that’s cool.

March 27
Damn. That was one fantastic episode of Bates Motel tonight. I loved how they reinvented the classic Psycho storyline, and how they flipped the script. Now I’m even more eager to see what happens in the series’ last four episodes.

March 26
It’s always fun to have a lazy Sunday morning with my niece and nephews, watching TV, playing Wii games, etc.

March 25
Tonight I was so so happy Mitzi and I got tickets to see Dear Evan Hansen, which was an incredible show. Powerful performance by star Ben Platt; great, memorable music by the guys who also did La La Land; and a contemporary story told with heart and respect and insight. It may not be the happiest of musicals, but it’s definitely a must-see.

March 24
They’re calling it a colossal failure: The president’s attempt to “repeal and replace” so-called Obamacare went down in flames today. He even pulled the bill before the House could vote on it, because he knew he didn’t have enough votes for it to pass. Ha!

March 23
You hate to see anyone lose their job, and oh boy, was I glad to not be the Cracker Barrel social media person, but man … the Brad’s wife story sure did make me laugh today. Poor Brad’s wife. Ha ha ha ha …

March 22
Participated in three Twitter chats today, and got some great response and engagement from other participants. Every now and then I say some pretty smart things. Ha!

March 21
I think the only reason I’m still watching New Girl is Lamorne Morris. He’s clearly the most underrated member of that cast.

March 20
Happy International Day of Happiness! Today, I was really happy that, even though I worked late(r than I expected or wanted to), it was still light out when I left the office. Thank you, Daylight Savings Time.

March 19
Salvaged what was shaping up to be a nothing day (damned cold) by going to see Beauty and the Beast. And it was worth it; despite not being a fan of the 1991 animated film, I found this version quite enjoyable. Then again, with Emma Watson as the lead character, how could it not be?

March 18
Productive day: Got my car inspected, got my oil changed, mailed my tax information, had a brake light replaced, and did some grocery shopping. Ticked a lot off my to-do list.

March 17
Today at lunch, having just blown my nose in the office, being outside and breathing in that fresh, cool air felt sooooo good.

March 16
It’s always nice to receive kudos for good work, especially when it’s a project that’s been a bit of a bear and has taken longer than expected. Looking forward to our deployment story site being live publicly in a week or two!

March 15
I’m sick again (ugh), so today I was happy simply because I decided to work from home instead of the office.

March 14
Tonight was the season finale of This Is Us. Which was a good thing, because, while I watch the show every week, I really don’t like it very much. So now I can spend the hour watching something I actually enjoy.

March 13
Tonight it was brought to my attention that a photo I’m in from freshman year of college, that once appeared in the Boston Herald, is being sold on eBay for $20. Ha! So random.

March 12
Thank God for the NoWait app, which saved Dan and me about 90 minutes of waiting time at the Friendly Toast in Back Bay today. (Delicious brunch, btw.)

March 11
Man, do I love that Maren Morris song “My Church.”

March 10

March 9
Got a significant writing project “done” (or at least, moved for approval) today. It’s good to not have that one hanging over me anymore, and good for me not procrastinating about getting it done.

March 8
After what felt like a solid month, I finally got the approvals I needed to publish our first blog post since mid November. It really shouldn’t take that long, but this one did, so that made the simple act of publishing a blog post feel like a big accomplishment today.

March 7
Today I was reminded that, as of this month, I’ve been living in Boston for 20 years. (Not including my college years.) Somehow, I missed the actual day anniversary last week. But since moving to Boston was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I’m glad that I remembered it eventually and was able to take a moment and smile about it.

March 6
For one reason or another, I’ve had occasions to reread old blog posts recently, and it has reminded me of what a good writer I used to be — or, rather, I can be when I care about what I’m writing. Tonight, after watching a run-through of a friend’s SXSW presentation, I reread another old blog post. And it makes me happy because I know I have this talent in me. I really need to get back in the habit of blogging more regularly again.

March 5
Solid night of TV tonight: The series premieres of Making History, Time After Time, and Feud, then Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Sunday nights just got busy again.

March 4
On a super-cold day, with not much else to do and no desire to stay home, I decided to see La La Land for the third time. First time I saw it, I didn’t love this movie. But damn, is it still enjoyable, even after two more viewings.

March 3
Today my friends Mike and Erica learned that their 5-year-old son, Ari, would finally be getting a new heart after 221 days on the waiting list and many weeks in the hospital. Ari was born with congestive heart failure, so he’s been a fighter his entire life. The kid has an unbreakable, infectious spirit and this was news that made me really happy for their entire family.

March 2
Spent today in Poughkeepsie for work, and found a bagel place close to my hotel. So, while my coworker was on a call, I took a quick drive over to grab some lunch and enjoyed some New York–style crumb cake as dessert. Mmmmmmm …

March 1
Andrew was honored today for his work to increase colon cancer awareness and promote screenings, and as part of the program, he was interviewed by Luke Perry. That was pretty cool. And it was also cool that the event was live-streamed so I could watch it.

February 28
Received a positive annual performance review and some very encouraging advice from Maureen today. I may not love my job, but I’m in a very lucky position right now.

February 27
I bought a third pillow for my bed this weekend, and now I can keep my head elevated all night. It made for a good night of sleep last night, after being up late watching TV, and allowed me to get out of bed more easily this morning.

February 26
After a very enjoyable Oscars show, Moonlight pulled out a surprise (super surprise, actually) win for Best Picture over La La Land. Both are good movies, but I’m really happy Moonlight came out on top. And I’m happy La La Land didn’t sweep the entire evening; it was nice to see Manchester by the Sea win a couple awards too, and even Arrival take home a prize.

February 25
I think I listened to John Mayer’s new song “Still Feel Like Your Man” about a dozen times today or more — most of them with the windows down, given the warm temperatures. (Yes, it was a warm day in February again.) Despite it being a breakup song, it’s got such an upbeat sound to it.

February 24
For the first time in about two weeks, I slept the entire night without having to get up for coughing or sore throat or whatever. And so today, I felt closer to healthy than I’ve felt in that same period. I think, finally, this cold or sickness or whatever has passed.

February 23
Fun time tonight hanging out with local marketing folks at a “3 Months till Grill Season” party. And a perfect night to walk from my office in Post Office Square to the Seaport area, where the Aloft hotel (and the party) was. With temperatures in the high 60s today, it didn’t feel like February 23 at all.

February 22
That thing where a friend tells you how she’s struggling to use Twitter … then reveals she has two secret Twitter alter egos that are much more active than her real handle is. Ha ha ha ha … that made me laugh.

February 21
Today is dad’s 71st birthday. There wasn’t a ton of celebration this year, but I’m glad we still have much to celebrate.

February 20
One kinda nice thing about having to work on a national holiday is the fact that when you go to a place like COSI for lunch, there will be barely any customers there and you can get a sandwich on warm, fresh bread that literally comes straight from the oven. Yum.

February 19
Temperature hit the high 50s in Boston today. On February 19. And it was sunny. So, yeah. Nothing bad about that.

February 18
Today I sat in Panera eating lunch and reading the new issue of Entertainment Weekly (the one with the beautiful photo of Emma Watson on the cover) for an hour or so. On a day when I still wasn’t feeling so well, and didn’t really do all that much, that was a highlight.

February 17
Jamie Cullum dropped a new song today, and even though it’s not available in the U.S. right now, I’m still happy because (I assume) it means he’ll be coming out with a new album later this year.

February 16
Left work a little early today to go to a movie screening, and it was totally worth it: Logan was good.

February 15
At the risk of sounding like a horny teenager, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue dropped today, and wow. Just … wow. Special shoutout to Aly Raisman. Damn, girl!

February 14
Despite sleeping in an extra 20 minutes this morning, my T train made it to Park Street just before 9 a.m., giving me just enough time to stop for a “special” Valentine’s Day breakfast on the way to the office.

February 13
I think I’m sick. But thankfully, I had some Sudafed at home that hadn’t expired. Let’s hope that helps.

February 12
Didn’t think I’d be able to leave my apartment today due to the snow (MOAR SNOW!) but there was an unexpected window of time where it stopped and I could get out and do some things, so I did.

February 11
The signs at Patriot Place today said the Hall of Fame was completely sold out this weekend. But being me, I asked if that was really true, and sure enough, it wasn’t. (Turns out, the lines inside were moving faster than expected, but they were trying to keep that fact on the DL to keep the crowds manageable.) So I got to go in and take photos with the brand new Super Bowl trophy — and other Patriots memorabilia — after all. Good stuff. Glad I asked.

February 10
I consider it a bit of an accomplishment when I can stay up late enough to watch the entire episode of Real Time with Bill Maher live on a Friday night, and I’m glad I did tonight, so I didn’t miss this exchange between Piers Morgan and Jim Jefferies. Bravo, Jim. Nailed it.

February 9
Big snow storm today (we got a foot!) and I was happy to be (working at) home, instead of in Poughkeepsie, which is where I was supposed to be, and where I probably would have been stuck if our meeting hadn’t been postponed.

February 8
One nice thing about working from home (which I did today) is being able to eat something stinky for lunch that I’d never want to eat in the office. Tuna fish, for example.

February 7
Saw The Lego Batman Movie tonight. Not as good as the original Lego Movie, but so much fun. Loved all the meta Batman jokes.

February 6
Today, Maureen practically insisted that our entire team go to the Patriots victory parade tomorrow. How nice to have a manager (and friend) like that.

February 5
OMG! The Patriots came back from the biggest deficit in Super Bowl history to win the game 34-28 in overtime (first time a Super Bowl game has ever gone to overtime), absolutely stunning the Falcons and nearly everyone watching the game (including me). Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time. And Commissioner Roger Goodell had to eat a lot of crow. What an unbelievable night. WOW.

February 4
Saw my niece’s annual school show today, The Wizard of Oz. I love watching how they distribute the spotlight, and how multiple people play one character, and how the kids don’t always understand what they’re saying. And of course, I love watching Abby be a part of it.

February 3
Got tickets to see John Mayer in Boston (thank you, Ticketmaster mobile app!), and then learned the Record Company is his opening act. That’s going to be an awesome show!

February 2
As if it wasn’t enough that my flight home landed about a half-hour early, now Lyft (and Uber) is picking up at the airport again. Woo hoo!

February 1
Back in Chicago again, for the night (for work), and was able to see Andrew and Rachel — and surprise the kids, who were excited. I love coming to this city, and seeing good friends is a big reason why.

January 31
Stopped for a quick bite at Trident Café tonight, and they had When Harry Met Sally playing on the TVs. Don’t remember when the last time I saw that movie was, but even though the sound was off and the closed captioning was on, I could still hear it in my head and was reciting lines of dialogue as they happened. Still such a great movie, and it made for a fun meal. I didn’t want to leave.

January 30
John Mayer is going back on tour to support his new album, and will be in Boston in early April. I wanna go!

January 29
Wrote a blog post today, and spent a lot of time rereading it and editing it and rewriting it, before I decided, ultimately, to scrap it. For some reason, I just couldn’t get the words out correctly. Not publishing a blog post shouldn’t necessarily make me happy, but I’m glad I spent the time to think through and process some emotions, didn’t force it, and didn’t publish the blog post just to publish it.

January 28
Today was a good day for the mail: Not only did I receive the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (the Oscar nominations issue!) a day earlier than I’ve been receiving it, I also got the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl programs (wrapped in plastic and everything) — thanks to my friend Cat, who designed them.

January 27
My toilet hasn’t been working correctly, but tonight, before calling a plumber or going out to buy a new one, I figured out all by myself how to fix it. Go me!

January 26
That thing where you’re at work a bit later than usual and about to leave, and then you get a DM from a friend, who says, “I’m in the city. You still around? Wanna meet up for dinner/drinks?” Hooray for impromptu, spur-of-the-moment meetups!

January 25
Today, someone paid me a nice compliment after I participated in a Twitter chat: “I love all these nuggets you drop on authentic voice and advocacy. Thank you for being a steward for this stuff, Martin! You say it in a way that strips out the lingo and buzzwords and make it sound like it’s not the same old stuff. ‘Refreshing’ is the word I’d use.” So, that was nice.

January 24
One nice thing about working from home today was the fact that, for the first time in a very long time, I could watch the Oscar nominations be announced in real time. And I did.

January 23
Today I learned that someone highly respected in the content marketing world was wondering why I hadn’t submitted a speaking proposal for a conference he runs. It’s nice to know I’m thought of so highly that he would be disappointed by that. Maybe next year.

January 22
Woo hoo! The Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl! Woo hoo!

January 21
How inspiring, how beautiful, how awesome it was today to see hundreds of thousands of people — maybe even millions, total — around the world marching (where possible, given the large crowds) and protesting and rallying for women, for love, for kindness, for equal rights and equal treatment. Made me really proud to be an American.

January 20
One of the best things I’ve done recently was buy Dunkin’ Donuts hot chocolate K-Cups to drink at work. We ran out of the generic ones in the office, but these are so much better that I’m going to keep on buying them even if the office gets restocked.

January 19
One nice thing about being a blogger as long as I have been one is having posts like this one, and being able to reread them and reminisce all these years later. On Barack Obama’s last day as President, it was nice to read the words of a more hopeful me regarding the state of our government and my attitude toward politics. I’m grateful that I was able to vote for Barack Obama and see him get inaugurated, and I’m thankful for all he accomplished as President. He (and his wife) will definitely be missed.

January 18
Kinda mostly enjoyed The Founder tonight — especially the sequence where the McDonald brothers explain to Ray Kroc how they created their restaurant and the fast-food cooking and delivery technique.

January 17
Tonight, for what I think was the very first time, I made a salmon fillet for dinner. And it was good! Nice to have something else easy and healthy (and quick) to add to my “cooking” repertoire.

January 16
One nice thing about working on a day when not a lot of other people are is that the T is a lot less crowded and moves faster, there are no lines at lunch places, and the city is generally pretty quiet.

img_3315January 15
Woke up this morning and, for the first time, my niece and nephews were all there. My first three-kid sleepover was a success!

January 14
We took my niece and nephews to the ropes course at Jordan’s Furniture in Reading today. It’s amazing the things they do that I would never have done when I was their age — much less now.

January 13
My apartment is now clean(er) again, just in time for my weekend visitors.

January 12
For four of the five days I’ve worked this year, I’ve been good and had a salad for lunch (from Hale & Hearty). Today I decided to change dressings — from Italian Herb to Garlic Parmesan. And you know what? It was delicious. Maybe a little more caesar-y than I wanted, but yeah. That was good.

January 11
Yesterday, the office was pretty much dead. So today, the fact that I wasn’t entirely alone was a good thing.

January 10
I don’t like a lot about politics, but I sure have liked having Barack Obama as my President. His speech tonight was another example of why.

January 9
The weather was finally — finally — nice in Austin, so I spent my last day in town doing something I hadn’t done whole a lot of thus far: walking. First, around the UT Austin campus, and then all the way across town to Iron Works BBQ.

January 8
Holy crap. The Manmosa — one liter of mimosa goodness at Banger’s — sure did throw me for a loop today. Ha! But it was worth it.

January 7
After a grey, chilly day and two super-cold nights, I woke up to more mild temperatures and a clear blue sky. That made for more fun outdoor activity — and much better pictures.

January 6
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s so much fun to meet and hang out with people IRL after getting to know them on Twitter and other social media.

January 5
Today I was asked to contribute a guest blog post to another business’ website, about the importance of actually connecting with people on social channels and getting to know them, because I “positively excel” at this. So that was cool.

January 4
Subscribing to Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources email newsletter has been the best decision I’ve made so far this year. I love how it’s written, and love how it sums up the day in media news in one fell swoop.

January 3
This morning, instead of spending my commute scanning through Facebook and Twitter, et al, I decided to bring a magazine and read. The e-break felt good, even if it was only for the morning.

January 2
Tonight I made myself a (healthy) home-cooked dinner for the second night in a row. Can’t remember the last time I did that. Some protein, some vegetables, no carbs, and a little fruit for dessert. Go me!

January 1
For some reason, I needed to clear some space on my old computer so I could export the data to my new one. That forced me to plum the depths of my hard drive’s memory, and that allowed me to discover some old, old files I’d forgotten about or didn’t realize I still had: photos and videos of my friends’ kids, emails from ex-girlfriends and resignation letters from old jobs, work I’d done, music I’d never listened to, old movie trailers, and more. Sure, I deleted some of it, but it was a fun trip through time.


2 Responses to “The 2017 Happiness Project”

  1. craigdesbrisay April 5, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

    This is a really fun initiative, Martin! Enjoying your updates!

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