Your Happiness Project- A New Year’s Reflection

As the year begins to come to a close, I have officially begun to reminisce on the smiles, laughs, and tears that encompassed 2014. It sure has been eventful and, as many of you may agree, has gone by way too fast. Just last year, in the fall of 2013, I started my college adventure as a freshmen at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Now, I am preparing to enter 2015 in the midst of my sophomore year and to spend the spring semester and the beginning of the new year in Greece studying abroad. It’s starting to hit me that when I return at the end of May to the United States, the year will already be half over.

This in mind, winter break has allowed me the time I needed to reflect on this last year and come to terms with the things I was unable to complete. Maybe it was that book I never read, or the hike I never took, or even that delicious cake I pinned on Pinterest but never actually got to bake. Regardless, we all have some variation of unmet resolution or goal that most likely will be left unchecked in 2014.

This time of year and being home has reminded me of a book that I read a few years ago, The Happiness Project. Although it has been a while, this book is truly “one for the books”. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to read this book, the author, Gretchen Rubin, gives a detailed account of her year’s adventures by taking readers month by month in her pursuit of happiness through a “happiness project”. She describes a “happiness project” as “an approach to changing your life.” But as a part of the note to readers, Rubin acknowledges that the book is a documentation of her adventure to enhance joy within her own life and that a reader’s own venture may look very different in comparison to hers. Although I never started a happiness project of my own or came to some great epiphany about the way I wanted to live my life after reading this book, I was able to raise personal awareness regarding my own happiness.

Today, I came face to face with this book once again.  It was sitting right on my bookshelf, a coat of dust collected lightly on its cover. Seeing it, I was reminded of the  importance of my own happiness, not only today or over this last year, but moving forward into what will be 2015. Although getting me to laugh or smile is never a hard feat, personal happiness, as many of us know, is more than skin deep. Happiness is a concept that means something different to everyone and, for me, means looking forward to the pursuit of little moments in daily life. As cheesy as it sounds, embracing joy in the small things in life is what brings me true happiness. Whether it be that my vanilla cappuccino from Dunn Bros was perfectly frothy, or the weather outside was forgiving enough for an afternoon run in the middle of December, or even merely being able to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months, the small and simple things are what make for true happiness in my life.

I look to this new year as a way to improve the happiness I get out of my daily life. I see this time as a way to reflect and improve in the new year. Happiness, is something you have the opportunity to decide for yourself. So this year, I am choosing happiness. I am excited to pursue new spontaneous opportunities like late night pizza runs, impromptu rock climbing, or even reading a new and interesting novel in under a weekend because this year brings 365 days of unknown, and I am the one that gets to fill each day with something new and exciting. Ultimately, you have the power to do the same. You get to decide how you want to spend the next year of your life; so I challenge you to begin your own pursuit of happiness. For me, I’m beyond excited to do just that.


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