Hi Readers! My name is Sheena Boen, and I have been mulling over starting this project since my honeymoon over 7 months ago! That’s me in the picture in Koh Phangan, Thailand enjoying the views from our room (June 2016). Alas, life – and a little bit of fear – has gotten in the way of me following through to execution. Only after I decided to join a Women’s Mastermind group was I determined enough to make this my goal and finally start this project and blog.
Each year I say how this is going to be the year where I will be happy because of this or that and every year, I get so caught up in the daily grind of life that my energy towards what feeds my soul is depleted and all I want to do is watch Friends reruns on my couch. This year will be different. This year I want to be committed to BE HAPPIER AND LIVE HAPPIER, thus the name of my project “The Live Happier Project”. I welcome you to come along on this journey with me and through my successes (with some failures I’m sure), I hope to inspire others to start their own Happiness Project!
I first saw Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” while flying from Miami back to Atlanta after my bachelorette. At the time, I was struggling with wedding stress, self-confidence at work, and a constant pessimistic outlook on life. I thought to myself, “well, maybe this chick has the answers”. I couldn’t wait to get on my honeymoon and actually have the time to just read the book with no disturbances and without feeling guilty that I should be doing something more productive. One of my hobbies had become more of a burden, as I tried to manage a demanding new job, buying a home, and planning a wedding. I don’t recommend anyone doing this all in one year :)! Don’t get me wrong, I had many blessings in my life and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but my mental health was suffering because of all the negative self-talk.
Immediately, I felt connected to Rubin because of how much I saw myself in her words and her story. While starting her project to write the book, Rubin was already an accomplished author. She had left her career as a distinguished lawyer to become a writer. To be a writer has also been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, but I have given so many excuses to not go down that path (money, stability, talent, discipline, determination, etc.) and ignore that feeling in my gut of what I’m really supposed to be doing in life.
As a serious author, Rubin felt guilty for starting her book because of how others would perceive her indulgent project. In her 1st chapter, “Getting Started” she describes the skepticism she encountered about her project:
“…a longtime acquaintance openly scoffed at the idea of my own happiness project. ‘Your project is to see if you can make yourself happier? And you’re not even depressed?’ he asked…’you’re not a regular person. You’re highly educated, you’re a full-time writer, you live on the Upper East Side, you husband has a good job…I just don’t think you’re going to have insights that other people would find useful.’…Was it supremely self-centered to spend so much effort on my own happiness?”
This is the same question I struggle with so often, as I am a glass half empty kind of a girl and I constantly complain about my life, “my job doesn’t fulfill me”, “my husband isn’t romantic”, ” my new puppy is a lot of work”, “I don’t make enough money”, etc. I mean the list could really go on about my constant complaining. At work I am told how positive and flexible I am, but inside my anxiety and self-doubt is running wild. My poor husband has seen me break down every couple of months, or more, with just a sob-fest, pity party of how everything has just gone to shit. I think things really hit when an acquaintance did tell me they noticed how negative I am and suggested therapy or drugs, something I’ve done both of since I do suffer from anxiety. I know I needed my perception to change on how I viewed life and to learn to see the beauty. While mastering the change in my perception would inherently make me happier, I don’t want to just give up on my dreams or forget about the things that truly do make me happy life family, friends, coffee shops, good books, writing, sunsets, travel, etc. These often suffer because of my constantly full schedule to keep my life together or aka #adulting (ugh). While I am working on changing into a person that sees the glass as half full, I want to incorporate more meaning into my life with the simple things that feed my soul. My time in my 20s might be done, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop living and exploring. Dreams don’t have an age limit. Repeat with me now, dreams don’t have an age limit.
Since I do realize that I am blessed and I am privileged, I try to do the right thing in bringing others up or alleviating their burdens, such as sponsoring 2 children from the Children International program and sending one to a trade school. I try to better the lives of others through small acts, but there is always more I could do. While I’m looking inward to figure out my own happiness, I will also be looking outward away from myself because helping others is one of the things that does feed my soul. I want to bring light to someone else’s life whether that is through volunteering, my blog, a sympathetic ear, or monetary contributions. My life is meant for building relationships with people.
My first month during my year-long project to Live Happier will be in March, which will tackle boosting my energy levels. The next few posts will describe my version of Rubin’s process to determine my 12 Commandments, Secrets of Adulthood, and the areas I will be focusing on by month!