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.

February 21

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.


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