Julie 101

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A Toast to Ordinary

Real Simple Magazine’s theme for January 2011 was happiness, with a mandate on the cover to “Be happier this year!” One article in particular stood out to me, called “The Psychology of Happiness–Learning to be grateful for the ordinary things in life.” by Meg Wolitzer. You can read the whole thing here, but below is an excerpt that I found especially relevant to my current life situation.

“Everyone talks incessantly about stress now, and how it has changed our lives and made us so unhappy. Less obviously, I think stress has also changed the quest for happiness itself, making it more aggressive and occupying more of our time. Ever since antidepressants and sexual-enhancement drugs hit the airwaves and ever since we were told that we had a right to our happiness, damn it, and that we could ask for it—no, demand it—from our doctors, spouses, friends, or employers, it seems that the desire for happiness has increasingly become a source of anxiety.

Which is why I have taken a few steps back.

At this point, being happy is about having the space to appreciate the ordinary things that do in fact make me “happy,” though at first glance they might not be seen that way.”

This excerpt perfectly explains the point of my 101 in 1001 project. Many of the things on my list are so ordinary I feel silly even talking about them, but they will boost my happiness nonetheless, whether having nicely shaped eyebrows, less debt or simply a few hours of comfort with my friends. In the past few weeks the need for such ordinary pleasures has become increasingly apparent to me. Going through multiple non-related major stressful events at times seems to overrun my life and make it overwhelming to the point of seeming unbelievably un-conquerable. I am increasingly finding the need to take conscious measures to keep my sanity and level of calm, but at the same time I’m excited to be able to recognize this need and take control of it – and grateful for the people in my life who accept it as a positive change to my life and are willing to help me along. So here’s to an ordinary, happy 2011.

What are some of your ordinary pleasures?

Happiness - photos by Christopher Griffith for Real Simple Magazine

Photos by Christopher Griffith for Real Simple Magazine

Other Happiness articles in the January 2001 issue of Real Simple:
The Guide to Happiness

The History of Happiness

The Science of Happiness


2 comments on “A Toast to Ordinary

  1. Theresa
    January 13, 2011

    let’s see….I like it when I get a chance to sit down and enjoy the perfect combination of tea and ice cream. I love when I have exact change. I LOVE when something I need at the grocery store is already on sale! FROGS! finding change on the ground. That’s all I can think of right now, but I’ll let you know as they come to me.

    ❤ theresa

  2. Fee
    January 14, 2011

    Love this! I just discovered this book. Haven’t read it yet, but plan to soon. 2011 should be about being happy!


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This entry was posted on January 13, 2011 by in Happiness and tagged .

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