Happiness project update #1


Next I’m going to start organizing my kitchen drawers…

The project started well. I’ve mostly been in a good mood except for a couple of days in the middle of the week, when I stepped on a scale. 🙂


I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to my September resolutions, except that I forgot to tackle a distortion on Monday.

The problem isn’t lack of distorted thinking (!), it’s the fact that thoughts are so automatic and volatile that your mind barely registers them:  one moment they are there and then they are gone. I can often detect them just by the feelings they leave at their wake.

Going through my files I noticed there’s lots of “shoulding” going on in my head. I seem to have very specific notions about the way I should feel and behave. Or the way world is supposed to work. It’s a bit like being at war against myself AND reality, not to mention I’m always very upset when my expectations aren’t met.

Toss, restore and organize is my favorite resolution, because following it brings immediate satisfaction. In that way it’s a bit like eating chocolate, only without the drawbacks. 🙂

In practice, I’ve tried to follow the strategy I’ve named “little and often”.  Every day I aim to do a little something to keep my studio apartment tidy and organized. That way the work load never becomes overwhelming. My apartment is already more comfortable than it was just a week ago and I’m also happy because I get a regular dose of satisfaction.

I think cleaning and organizing brings so much satisfaction because you get immediate feedback on your actions. Also, cleaning and organizing is quite tangible and concrete, a much needed antidote to all those virtual activities that fill our days.

You already know what I’m doing to get rid of pain. Actually I’m almost painless already, because on top of my exercise rehab program I’m doing as many Feldenkrais lessons as possible.


The best thing about my week has been my two new hobbies. I attended a choir singing class on Thursday evening (for those who are interested, I don’t know how to sing) and on yesterday I attended a salsa class. Both were good choices. And as your may remember, one of my goals is to be able to salsa all night long when I turn 50, so it’s time I started learning.

I think I was made for salsa dancing. 🙂  It’s a fast-paced dance and I enjoyed it immediately (that’s why I loved dancing polka in high school). It was also surprisingly tough for a beginner class but in a good way. We were moving all the time!

Mambo step, anyone? 🙂


  1. Denise says:

    Sounds like a good start! I am a HUGE fan of Rubin’s book, so it’s exciting to read what you’re doing. I read the book about a year and a half ago, and while I never dove in and created my own like you’re doing (props to you!), I use a lot of her stuff all the time! For example, I am fanatical about keeping an open shelf here and an empty drawer there – it feels wonderful!

  2. Satu says:

    Hi Denise! I’ve read my share of happiness books and contemplated all kinds of projects, but for some reason Rubin’s approach clicked for me. I get a huge kick out of cleaning and organizing and I have just started. 🙂

  3. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! I think you really have good posts lately.

    I really have to buck my feelings on many days because I know that getting stuff done makes me feel structured. And when I feel structured, I tend to feel happy. So even before I go to gym on the weekend mornings, I tend to wash up the last evening’s dishes and put some clothes in the wash. It primes me for having a good day. And then at gym, I love listening to my iPod filled with my favorite upbeat music. I think there are rituals and patterns that feel good, if a person can learn what they personally are for themselves, they can use it over and over again. Most of my days follow a predictable pattern that I have found works well for me. Before I figured that out, my life felt too haphazard to be very happy.

    I love singing too. And dancing. I hope you are having fun and meeting new friends. If you see some a woman with a cute outfit or a guy with a jaunty hat, or whatever, make sure you take time to compliment them. It is the easiest way to make new friends–with a compliment. Or even a compliment about their talent. If you start the talking, it almost always ends up as a friendship. 😀

    • Satu says:

      Thank you, Marion! My enthusiasm for my happiness project probably shines through. 🙂 You’re right about structure and rituals. I was just reading about establishing rituals in one book. I think I might need a calming night ritual.

      The funny thing was that I went to the choir yesterday (I read your comment just before I left) and when we were warming up and I was forward bending so I could see the woman behind me, I paid attention to her shoes. I almost said “what cute shoes you have”, but then didn’t, because I thought it might have been inappropriate. 🙂 Maybe next time..

  4. Oh Satu, I love that you’ve started choir and Salsa (which has the benefit of being exercise AND fun!).

    I also love your ‘little and often’ approach. You probably know I get overwhelmed with big tasks but if I break them down into chunks I find it easier. I often use ‘To-Do’ lists as I get a sense of accomplishment when I cross stuff off, but it also means I have to struggle with the SHOULDS and MUSTS as well.

    Am loving this project for you!


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