The 2018 Happiness Project

2 Jan

I don’t know much, but I know this: You can’t plan to be happy.

That said, you can make an effort to be mindful and appreciate good things that happen and that make you smile. And those things will make you happier. It’s a simple idea, but it’s an effective one.

And being happy has many benefits — not least of which is that nobody wants to hang around with a perpetual Debbie Downer. But all kidding aside, being happy has multiple health benefits, including increased strength and decreased stress, a stronger immune system, and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Scientific evidence also suggests that happiness can help you unlock creativity, improve your memory, and make you more productive. So, it’s really not a trite or superficial (or sexist) thing when someone wishes you a “Happy New Year” or “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Holiday,” or suggests you smile more. They’re actually wishing you increased wellness and productivity.

To be sure, celebrating positive things — even the smallest ones — doesn’t mean ignoring legit causes of concern or living in a bubble. And yes, there are times when finding something to smile about can be really tough. But after two years of documenting happy things in my own life, I can say with confidence that there is good in every day. Even the seemingly bad ones.

In 2015, I began my “Happiness Project” and brought it back last year. The concept is simple: At the end of every day, I document one thing (big or small) that I was grateful for or that made me smile. It was a successful experiment, with the theory proven both times — especially last year: Despite the dark and turbulent events, and plenty of things that made me and many others unhappy, I was able to maintain a positive attitude and could then look back on fun times more than frustrating ones.

(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.)

So that’s why I’m continuing my “Project” this year: Because I don’t know if 2018 will be any better than last year was, but I’d like it to be.

As the Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” This year, I’m empowering myself, and anyone else who’d like to join me, to take action and make things better by celebrating the good in every day.

And so, with that, here’s what made me happy in 2018.

January 20
TBD

January 19
Today, for the second time in three days, I was featured in an article about bad customer service. On Wednesday, it was one for the ANA about Finagle a Bagel. Today, it was a BuzzFeed article about Apple. I wish they were about better topics, but still, it’s pretty cool to be interviewed.

January 18
Two good things today: First, after an initial snafu, I managed to snag two field seats for both nights of Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park this summer — plus another pair of tickets for the Friday night show that I now have to sell. And then, a promising job lead came back into the picture, right on schedule.

January 17
Today, after a bit of work, I finally sent out the first issue of our brand new practice newsletter. It came out really well, and I’m very proud of it, so I’m glad the initial feedback has been positive. People seem to really like it!

January 16
Probably wasn’t the healthier option, but today I was happy that someone brought in bagels and cream cheese for a morning meeting, because the leftovers gave me a lunch option that allowed me to not go outside in the cold (to get a salad).

January 15
At the risk of TMI, I was dealing with a GI issue overnight, so today I was happy that it cleared up by the time I left for work in the morning. Phew!

January 14
Crazy exciting day for sports: First the Jaguars upset the Steelers (yay!), then the Vikings beat the Saints on a last-second touchdown pass. What an amazing moment that was.

January 13
Was nice to come home today and find the Shutterfly photo book I made of my 2017 photos waiting for me. Bonus was that it was sent via USPS, so it was held at the post office until I returned home and all my mail from the past week was delivered.

January 12
Something else to look forward to this year: I learned today that Zac Brown Band is coming back to Fenway Park this summer for a two-night stand. Hoping the ticket gods are smiling on me when those tix go on sale.

January 11
Dad came home from the hospital today, much more mobile than I ever expected him to be at this point.

January 10
One of my favorite things about visiting my folks is being able to listen to E Street Radio on Sirius when I’m driving my dad’s car, as I did today. Heard some great live performances from the archives. Very cool.

January 9
According to the doctor, dad’s surgery today went well. So, now he has a new knee, and hopefully, will be in a lot less pain than before. Let the recovery begin!

January 8
Thank God for the Xfinity X1 system, and the mobile app, which allows me to record something on my DVR and then watch it on my iPad when I’m on a plane. In today’s case, it was last night’s Golden Globes, which was great.

January 7
Wow! The Killers concert tonight was amazing, and a huge improvement over the last time I saw them live about 11 years ago. It was such a fun show.

January 6
Glad I saw Hostiles before I published my top films of the year list. It was great!

January 5
Since I didn’t learn till I was already on the T this morning that Maureen had decided to work from home, I decided to stop at Bruegger’s for a “good” breakfast, and was happy that I had someone make my bagel who was generous with the cream cheese and not the woman who is always so stingy.

January 4
On the day of the first big snowstorm of the season, the video in this tweet gave me a really big smile.

January 3
Learned Anderson East was going to be performing in Boston in April and was able to score two tickets to the show, all in about five minutes or less today thanks to Twitter and the Ticketmaster mobile app. Tickets were cheap, too: Just $17 each. Nice.

January 2
Surprise! Today, Justin Timberlake announced that he has a new album dropping on February 2, with the first single coming out this Friday. Woo hoo!

January 1
This morning, I was happy that when my smoke detector started to beep at around 6:45 a.m. to alert me it needed a new battery, that I had a 9-volt battery in my refrigerator, so I could shut up the detector, stop the beeping, and go back to sleep.

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