and #1. Boost Energy
Gretchen Rubin divides her book into 12 months. Each month is a different resolution. Her second month is: Remember Love. Her subgroups are: quit nagging; don’t expect praise or appreciation; fight right; no dumping; give proofs of love.
This chapter was mostly about marriage, but even though I’m not married yet, I’ve been with B for over three years now and know what love is. Before I begin my reflection, I want to share a huge, valid point Gretchen made:
“I had come to understand one critical fact about my happiness project: I couldn’t change anyone else.”
Quit Nagging: Because I am documenting my experiences while reading The Happiness Project, (kind of like Julie & Julia, but not as fabulously) I asked B if he thinks I nag him. He said, “Not unconsciously. But you know you’re nagging on purpose. You’re just not a nagging person.” Yes! Go me! When I do “nag” it’s in situations where I’ll ask B a hundred times to feed the dog because I’m just so worried he may forget to.
One recent situation, and it may sound very mundane to some, was when B had a bowl of mixed nuts sitting on the coffee table. They were there for a couple of days and I politely asked him to put them in a Tupperware and in the pantry. He wanted to leave them out for when he wanted to snack, but this reminded me of the diseased nuts at a bar, and so he said he’d put them away. Before reading this chapter, I became agitated when they still weren’t put away. I asked him again. (Nagging....) Any way, just the other day, I saw a container of nuts laying on the coffee table. Remembering what Gretchen said, “I couldn’t change anyone else,” I simply swiped the container on my way to the pantry. I wasn’t even irritated that B had left them out. I actually felt happier. I just felt a relief that they were out of the way, and I honestly didn’t care that I had to do it. I have two hands. I was already on my way to the kitchen, wasn’t I?
Don’t Expect Praise or Appreciation: Okay, so as much as I’d like to think I don’t have anything to say about this, I do. I, like a lot of people I know, swoon over a “gold star.” Everyone likes to be praised and appreciated for their hard work, don’t they? Don’t women like to be acknowledged for doing their significant other’s laundry? Or cooking a meal? Gretchen made me realize that “If you do [things, like chores] for other people, you end up wanting them to acknowledge it and be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it for yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way.”
I could chose not to do B’s laundry, but I do it because I want him to have clean clothes, and heck, I’m doing mine anyway. I honestly don’t mind. And he always says thank you.
Fight Right: Would you call me a liar if I told you B and I have never had a fight in the three years we’ve been together? I’m sure you are right now behind gritted teeth, but it’s true. We’ve never had a fight. Yes, disputes and debates, but never a full-blown yelling and shouting fight. Can I get snappy? Yes...but B knows I only ever snap when I’m beyond starving; and instead of arguing, he just feeds me. Then, I calm down and talk rationally.
“How a couple fights matters more than how much they fight.”
It’s just not in our personalities to fight. Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about this subgroup because I don’t have enough experience in it. I know that there will come a day where we can’t decide on some important life decision, but we know how to listen to one another. I once heard on a show (I can’t remember which one) that said to forget the saying “never go to bed angry.” For years I’ve lived by this because you know—what if? But, they said if you force yourself to talk before going to bed, you’re probably going to make things worse. Think about it... you’re upset; you’re exhausted; you’re not thinking clearly; and you’re more than likely going to say things you don’t mean to say. Instead, sleep on it, and have a clear mind in the morning. It’s worth a shot, right?
No Dumping: I definitely do this. I dump all of my feeling, insecurities, rants, etc. onto my boyfriend. Aren’t most of us guilty of this? I live with him, and he’s whom I see most often, so I’m always telling him about the things that went wrong in my day. I’ve come to realize this may not be the most genius idea. “Spouses pick up each other’s moods so easily. A 30 percent increase in one spouse’s happiness boosts the other spouse’s happiness, while a drop in one spouse’s happiness drags the other down.” This makes a lot of sense. Whenever B is happy, I feel myself getting happier. Whenever he’s down in the dumps, I start feeling blue, too.
Over the last few days, I’ve been omitting some of the negative parts of my day. (If something absolutely terrible were to happen though, I would definitely share, but little quirks throughout the day aren’t necessary.) I don’t need to tell him every time I was annoyed at work. Who wants to hear that? I also came to realize I was happier not venting. Surprising? I think it’s because I wasn’t reliving the “not so good” parts of my day. I just sort of forgot about them by not bringing them up.
Give Proofs of Love: Some quotes I love from this subgroup that don’t need any expansions:
“Hugging relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain.”
“One of the great joys of falling in love is the feeling that the most extraordinary person in the entire world has chosen you.”
“You should both go to bed at the same time.”
“...never criticize each other for more than one thing at a time.” (Good one!)
Last but not least, I really liked this; and I know a lot of people who could benefit from this quote:
“Feeling right is about living the life that’s right for you—in occupation, location, marital status, and so on. It’s also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself,” NOT other people.
“When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason) you lessen anger and resentment, and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a [relationship].”
I hope y’all are off to a great week. I've loved reading your comments from the last couple of posts, and I’m glad I’ve inspired some of you to get the book. I can’t wait to hear your opinions and successes.