Week 2: Remember Love

End of crazy Week Two

Theme: Remember Love

I knew this was coming. Even before reading Rubin’s book, I knew love had somewhat of a role to play in one’s happiness. The word love for a lot of people…or maybe I should just speak for myself…brings to mind mostly happy feelings. Who wouldn’t be happy to have someone to laugh and hold hands with. Or take long walks on the beach and paint rainbows with, if that’s your scene. Yes, love definitely had its hold on happiness and energy. How hard could this week have been? But Rubin took love beyond rainbows and bubbles. This week was definitely hard. And while it may not have been as successful as Week 1, I had become a lot more self-aware of all the ways I show and don’t show love.

Rubin decided that in her second month of the Happiness Project, she would focus on love which mostly entailed marriage. Reading over her second chapter assured me that I wasn’t the only one who particularly had some major setbacks and difficulties following through, but as it always is: it’s better to have tried to remember love than not.

Since I’m not married or even close, I had to remember love with something other than a husband. Who or rather where did I spend most of my time? And of course, that was work. ‘Love’ is too strong a word to use for my job. Most times, even ‘like’ didn’t cut it. So how was I going to remember love and be loving  in a place that left me mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the day? I decided to go with the  “Act the way I want to feel” approach that worked so well for me last week. It was the only way I knew to get through Remember Love week. SO here were the love tasks that were tackled in week two:

No nagging:

No nagging was actually a relatively simple affair. I was usually nagged to do things but I rarely had a chance to nag anyone else at work. What I did learn was that it was a pain in the ass being nagged by someone else all the time. And when my life came to a point where I would have someone to nag, this would be a serious fact to consider before doing so.

Do not expect gratitude or appreciation:

Everyone loves to be appreciated for the things they do. How do you measure the selflessness of an act though? I knew the value of appreciating and being grateful for everything someone else might do for you. However, I also understood why Rubin suggested doing good and not expecting appreciation in return. Do good because you want to. Not because you will get recognition for it in return. The moment you make it about getting something back in return, you create a breeding ground for resentment. Not expecting appreciation and praise is not a novel idea Rubin cooked up. Its been an age-old teaching that can be found in almost all self-improvement help books, happiness philosophy and religion. I embraced this one and was proud to do little random acts of kindness for people around me. So proud in fact that I gave myself a sparkly blue star for being so kind. Well, no one said anything about not appreciating yourself for being a good person, right?

No dumping:

Another task I didn’t score too well on at all. No dumping referred to not downloading every single one of your trivial problems on someone else. “You will not believe how long I had to wait for my bus today!!! Public transit is terrible!”, “Why is it always so cold in here??? Everytime I turn up the heat, someone turns it down!”. The problem with dumping was that I constantly “vented” out about the injustices of the workplace with my co-workers. And of course, misery loves company. Dumping begets dumping. I dumped my problems on someone and someone else dumped their problems on me. At the end of the day, everyone is a big ball of anger and indignation. It was only when I tried to stop dumping that I realised that dumping was a key cause of unhappiness in the workplace. It stemmed from the problem that we all think it is good and even healthy to vent out. But venting out was a concept that worked better when it was done with someone who was completely unbiased and removed from the situation. Not someone in the same sespit as you are. No dumping was hard. But I realised how important it was. And I made it a point that is was going to be a battle that I was going to do my best to fight.

Fight Right:

Speaking of fighting, here’s another task that I found a little disconcerting. Fight right meant that if you are going to fight, do it the right way. Lay out the problem as it is without pointing fingers and criticising. Most of my fights start with “Why did you leave the desk looking like someone vomited paper?” instead of  “Things might have been pretty busy last night. The desk wasn’t as organised as it usually is in the mornings”. In a way, no nagging and fight right went hand in hand. Because when you followed through with both of them, it usually eliminated fights.

The Results:

Not the greatest. While I was down with no nagging and not expecting praise, I think I bombed on the no dumping and fight right sections. There was no doubt that this week was hard. It took a lot of emotional and mental strength to not nag and criticize. Add to that was last week’s ‘Act Energetic’ (yes the tasks build up as the weeks go by). By Tuesday, I came home exhausted and broke down. Who was I kidding? There was a fine line between being loving and letting people off the hook for everything. Was this experiment worth it? I thought about it while showering and without realising it, I started to sing. I never sing in the shower. Usually my mind is racing full of things to do. Clean the kitchen, cook, sweep, take your boots to get fixed. But after evening clean ups and tackling nagging tasks, my mind was clear of all those things. And I was singing. I had swallowed my pride, let it go when people were assholes, and was kind to the people I detested the most. I was mentally bankrupt, but I was singing. I realised the first of my very own Incredible Fact of Happiness:

‘It is far more important and long-lasting to be happy than to feel happy.’

Did I feel happy? Not really. I was using every ounce of will I had to be bright and energetic around people who sucked it out with large straw. 

Was I actually happy? Most definitely I was. I was eating better, getting enough sleep, more energetic, had a mind clear enough to finally think about how great I have it in life and was reaping the results of good karma and the feel-goodness of doing good. My heart felt lighter than it had in a long time, I wasn’t stewing about how crappy my job was, how much I hated the bus. I let it go. And there was no physical exhaustion that a good night’s rest, some good music and a glass of wine couldn’t take care of.

So things I learnt this week:

  • Being happy is more important than feeling happy
  • Dumping begets dumping. Don’t do it.
  • Kindness doesn’t always beget kindness. But do it anyway.
  • It’s best if you go through your day thinking that there is only love. No other choices or options.

 Happiness-O-Meter for this week’s perceived happiness: 5/10.  I didn’t feel happy, but I knew I was.

I could say thank God, week 2 is done. But love is never done.  Love is hard, but ultimately rewarding. I am happy though, that love is not something I’ll be solely concentrating on next week. This week was eye-opening. There is nothing like taking on tasks like these and becoming increasingly aware of how it all affects your attitude and happiness.

Until next week, stay happy! And remember, there is only love.

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