Rus Articles Journal

Happiness project. Dreams. Plan. New life. Part 1

Me eternally was overcome by vague desire to overcome the shortcomings. Once I will cease to finger hair, to walk constantly in sneakers and to eat one flakes. I will remember birthdays of my friends, I will learn to use the Photoshop program, and I will not allow the daughter to watch TV at breakfast. I will read Shakespeare. I will laugh and enjoy more life. I will become more polite. I will go more often to the museums. I will cease to be afraid to drive the car.


One April morning which differed in nothing from any other morning, I suddenly understood that I risk to ruin the life, to live it for nothing. Looking through the bus window which is filled in with a rain, I felt how years escape.“ What do I want from life? - I wondered. - Well... I want to be happy“. But I never thought that happiness, or how to become happier brings to me.

In my life. I was married to Jemmy - the high dark-haired handsome whom I very much loved, and we had two remarkable daughters - seven-year-old Elisa and one-year-old Eleonora. I was a writer though began as the lawyer, and lived in the favourite city - New - York. I had fine relations with parents, with the sister and cousins. I had friends, I did not complain of health, and I did not even need to dye hair. However I began to be rude to the husband and strangers often. I became despondent from - behind everyone small trouble at work and lost touch with old friends. Began to fly easily into a rage, suffered from attacks of melancholy, helplessness and depression.

Looking through muddy glass, I noticed the woman crossing the street. She hardly held an umbrella, at the same time trying to speak by the mobile phone, and pushed before herself a carriage with the child in a zheltenky dozhdevichk. Looking at this woman, I suddenly recognized in her myself. Here it - I! - it was thought to me. And I have a carriage, both the mobile phone, and an alarm clock, and the apartment nearby... Here now I go on the city by bus by which constantly I go to and fro. Such is my life, but I never think of it.

Ya was not depressed and did not endure crisis of middle age, but obviously had an illness, to peculiar many adults: periodic flashes of discontent and uncertainty. “Really it I?“ - I was perplexed, touching morning mail.

But though from time to time I felt a dissatisfaction that I lack something, I never forgot what I am actually lucky. Sometimes, having woken up in the middle of the night, I went from the room to the room and watched how my husband sleeps, having got confused in the crumpled sheets, and daughters in an environment of toy animals. I had all I could would like, but I was not able to rejoice to it. Having wallowed in small chagrin, having been tired of fight against itself, I was not able to appreciate what possessed. I did not want to adopt such provision as self-evident eternally. For years I was pursued by words of the writer Gabrielle Sidonie Colet: “What wonderful life I led! Well to realize it somewhat quicker... I would not like sometime then, in the evening of life or after some terrible accident to look back and to think: “As I was happy then... If I only understand it!“

to me needed to consider all this.

How to learn to derive pleasure from each lived day? How to become the best wife, mother, the writer, the friend? How to be exempted from oppression of routine and to direct to more sublime purposes?

Ya nearly forgot to leave near a drugstore to buy toothpaste. It seemed, it is simply impossible to combine my high reflections with small problems of everyday life.

the Bus hardly moved, and I did not keep up with the thoughts.“ It is necessary to be engaged closely in it, - I thought. - As soon as there is free time, I will organize own project of happy life“. Here I had no only free time at all... When life flows the turn, always lose sight of what is really important.

If I intend to start such project, it is necessary to find time. Mentally I presented how the whole month I live on the picturesque island, every day I walk on the coast, collecting cockleshells, I read Aristotle and I keep records in the graceful diary.“ Alas, - I admitted to myself, - to it not to happen. It is necessary to find an opportunity to be engaged in it here and now. I have to learn to see in a new way habitual things“.

So far these thoughts rushed in my head, I drew two conclusions: I am not so happy as I could be, and in my life nothing will change if I do not change it.

at this moment I made the decision to devote year to become happier. It was on Tuesday morning, and by noon Wednesdays on my table the pile of library books was already piled up. The place was them hardly: my small office all was filled up with materials to the biography of Kennedy on which I then worked, mixed up with notes from the school teacher mine of the daughter Elisa.

Ya could not just take and plunge into the project. It was necessary to study a lot of things before the year allocated with me for it begins. After week of intense reading and reflections over the forthcoming experiment I called the younger sister Elisabeth. Having listened to my reasonings on happiness, the sister told: “I am afraid, you do not understand what you are strange...“. And hasty added:“ In good sense, of course“.

- All people - strange. That is why such project for each of us would be other, not similar on other. Each of us is unique.

- it is possible

. But you, apparently, do not even guess as it is ridiculous from you to hear.

- That here ridiculous?

- how you try scrupulously, systemically to suit a question of happiness...

not absolutely it understood


- You mean how I try to embody the high purposes in practical actions?

- That`s it. I do not even represent what is practical actions.

is some slang business - schools.

- What difference! I just want to tell that your project tells about you more, than you think.

Of course, it was right. Correctly speak: people begin to teach what they want to learn. Having undertaken a role of the mentor, at least for itself, I tried to find a method of fight against own mistakes and shortcomings.

time to demand from itself bigger Came. Reflecting on happiness, I constantly came across paradoxes. I wanted to change myself, but at the same time to accept myself such what I am. I wanted to treat myself more and at the same time less seriously. I wanted to use more effectively the time, but also to have an opportunity to sometimes spend it carefree. There was a wish to think of himself so that to forget about itself.

Ya constantly was in extreme excitement, wanted to get rid of concern on the future, but wished to keep energy and ambitions. Elisabeth`s supervision set me thinking on the motives. Whether I was eager for the spiritual growth and the life devoted to more sublime principles, or my project was only attempt to extend the perfectionistic approach to all aspects of my life?

the Happiness Project combined both that, and another. Of course, I wanted to improve the character, but, considering my nature, it would demand drawing up the list of tasks, the new dictionary and continuous maintaining notes.

According to data of modern researches, the level of happiness of the person is predetermined genetically approximately for 50%; about 10% are made by influence of vital circumstances - age, sex, a nationality, marital status, prosperity, a state of health, a profession and religiousness, the rest - the consequence of the fact that the person thinks also does. In other words, the person has a congenital predisposition to be happy in the known limits, but owing to the behavior he can or reach the highest of them, or roll down to the lowest. This opening corresponded also to my personal observations. It seems quite obvious that some people more others are inclined to melancholy, but at the same time own decision of the person on how to it to live, also influences his happiness.

during study at law department we the whole semester devoted

to discussion of the concept “contract“ and when I went deep into research of happiness, such preparation did me good. During a time of an apprenticeship exact definition of concepts is very useful, however, I found fifteen various scientific definitions of happiness in one of works on positive psychology. When business reached my project, appear, that it is not necessary to spend forces for clarification of distinctions between “positive experience“, “subjective wellbeing“, “hedonistic mood“ and a set of other terms at all. I did not want to go deep into questions which not especially interested me.

instead I decided to follow the tradition put by the Supreme judge Potter Stewart who, defining what is obscenity, told: “When I face it, I recognize her“, or Louis Armstrong who declared: “If you have to ask what is the jazz, then to you not to understand it“, or A. E. Haussman who wrote that he can give definition to poetry not better than the terrier - a rat, but “distinguishes this subject of those symptoms which that causes“.

Aristotle determined by

happiness as summum bonum, the highest blessing. Though people aspire to other benefits - wish to find wealth and the power or to grow thin for ten pounds - they do it in confidence that it will bring them happiness. Thus, their real purpose - happiness. Pascal claimed:“ All people without exception are eager for happiness. Whatever different means they for this purpose used, the purpose at all one“. According to one research when people in a different doomsday were asked what they most of all would wish for themselves and for the children, they called happiness. Even those who cannot reach agreement about what means to be happy are ready to agree that most of people are capable to become happier, according to their own definition. I know when I feel happy, and it is quite enough for my purposes.

About definition of happiness I came also to one more important conclusion: contrast of happiness - misfortune, but not a depression.

the Depression - the serious condition requiring special attention, but it makes separate category in reflections about happiness and misfortune. Clarification of the reasons of a depression and means of fight against it far is beyond my project. I did not feel a depression and was not going to be engaged in it. The fact that melancholy is not peculiar to me, did not mean that attempt begin more happily not will do me good.

Having understood that it is possible to increase happiness level, and having understood what means to be happy, it was necessary to find out, how exactly to make himself happier. whether

I Could open a new amazing secret of happiness? Possibly, no. People reflected on it thousands of years, and great truth about happiness is formulated by the most brilliant minds long ago. All important was already told earlier. (And this statement too. Still Alfred Nort Whitehead wrote: “All important already was is once told“.) Laws of happiness are as immutable as laws of chemistry.

But even if these laws are opened not by me, it was necessary to apply them to itself. It as with weight loss. Its secrets are known to all - to eat properly, is less, to move more, but the most difficult - to embody it in practice. I should have created the scheme of the embodiment of the correct ideas in life.

the Founding father Benjamin Franklin - one of the main authorities on the theory of self-realization. In “Autobiography“ he tells how he created the table of virtues as “the courageous and hard project of moral improvement“. It defined thirteen virtues which wished to cultivate in himself, - an abstemiousness, reticence, love to an order, determination, thrift, diligence, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, mildness, - and made the table marked on days of week. Every day he was necessary to estimate as far as it was succeeded to embody these thirteen virtues in practice.

Modern researches induce not to exaggerate wisdom of such approach. People solve more successfully problems which are broken into specific and measurable actions with need of the structured reporting and at a positive reinforcement. According to the modern theory of activity of a brain, many judgments, motives and feelings are formed unconsciously, and an important factor of unconscious activity is “availability“ of information - ease with what it occurs. Information which addressed recently or which often addressed earlier is reproduced and becomes more active easier. The concept of “availability“ prompted to me that, constantly reminding itself of certain ideas and tasks, I will maintain their activity in the consciousness.

So, inspired by modern science and Benjamin Franklin`s method, I developed the version of the estimated table - some kind of calendar in which I could write down my obligations daily to put down myself marks √ (well) or X (badly) for their performance.


After drawing up the blank table needed a lot of time to define what obligations to fill free cages. Thirteen virtues of Franklin not quite corresponded to those changes which I wished to achieve. Not so I was anxious, for example, with cleanliness (though could brush teeth, probably, more carefully). What did I should have done to become happier?


First of all, it was necessary to determine those areas on which it is necessary to work. Then there came the time of the actions bringing happiness, concrete and measurable. For example, all - from Seneca to Martin Seligman, are convinced that friendship - guarantee of happiness, and I, of course, should have strengthened my friendly relations. The main thing to understand how to achieve desirable changes. I wanted to be special therefore it was necessary to know what I from myself wait for.

Reflecting over possible actions, I was surprised again to as far as my Happiness Project will differ from belonging to any other person. Franklin`s priorities included “moderation“ (“not to eat too much, not to get drunk“) and “reticence“ (less than “idle chatter and idle talk“). Someone could pledge to begin to play to himself sports, to leave off smoking, adjust the sexual life, to learn to float, go in volunteers, but I was not interested in all these specific objectives. I was already engaged in volunteer activity. I had special priorities, including such which many people would neglect, and excepting those which many would include in the list.

For example, the girlfriend asked me:

- whether you are going to complete a psychotherapy course?

- Is not present

, - I was surprised. - And why you decided that I need it?

- needs absolutely It if you intend to understand the reasons of the behavior. Really you do not want to understand why you such what is and why you seek to change the life?

Ya long reflected over these questions and, at last, solved: no, I do not want. Whether meant it that I approach business superficially? I am ready to recognize that the psychotherapy can be useful, but answers to the questions raised by the girlfriend not really interested me. In what I wanted to be engaged, was quite obvious to me, and I cared for beginning to behave better more, than better to learn to understand itself.

Twelve months of year made twelve cells of the table for filling. During researches I saw that the most important element of happiness - social communications therefore wrote down “Matrimony“, “Roditelstvo“, “Friendship“. Besides, I understood that my happiness in many respects depends on my prospects, and added to the Eternity and Aspirations list. Work was important for my happiness, but also leisure too therefore I included the points “Work“, “Game“ and “Uvlecheniya“. What else would I like to capture?“ Energy“ seemed to me an important component of success of all project. I wanted to mention also “Money“. To understand many discoveries which I made during the researches and I added “Attention“. December will become that month when I try to fulfill all the obligations most fully. So, twelve categories turned out.

But what to begin with? What was the most important element of happiness? I did not find out it yet, but decided to put “Energy“ on the first place. High level of energy will allow to cope with other tasks easier.

K on January 1 when I planned to start the project, I filled in the table with dozens of obligations which I will try to execute in the coming year. Within the first month I will start only January tasks; in February I will add some more tasks to a January set, and by December I will estimate performance of problems of all year.

As I decided by

on my tasks, some general principles began to appear. Allocation of these principles was more difficult, than I expected, but after long specifications I came to the following Twelve Precepts.

Twelve Precepts

  1. Be yourself, Gretchen.
  2. Live as is.
  3. Behave as you want to feel.
  4. Act with
  5. right now.
  6. Be polite and honest.
  7. Derive pleasure from process.
  8. Give all the best.
  9. Understand a problem.
  10. Be invigorated with
  11. !
  12. Do to
  13. what has to be made.
  14. of Any calculations.
  15. Love - only one.

These Twelve Precepts as I expected, had to help me with implementation of my obligations.

Ya made one more not less “serious“ list - Maturity Secrets. It were lessons which I with huge work learned in process of a growing. I do not know why at me years on accepting idea that the most available drugs cure a headache left, however, so it happened.

Be continued.