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July 22, 2012
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Stumbling on Happiness

One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune or fame. 
                                                               Willa Cather, “Le Lavandou,” 1902

“Maybe this is it, what it means to be happy,” was Doug’s response to me about my happiness project while we were doing the steep walk this morning, deep in the woods, quiet, pausing every now and then as we discussed–too into our conversation to walk and talk at the same time–interrupted only by the birds. It certainly was a great couple of hours, loving the lushness of the forest after these recent rains, and the rhythm we developed as we walked and talked.

Over the past month, different people have suggested books and articles to read, and have asked me how my happiness project is going. Doug suggested I read Stumbling on Happiness, a book he read twice in a row earlier this year. (I’m reading that right now.) One of my cousin’s suggested I read What Next by Ann Patchett. Another friend sent me a link to an article from Psychology Today, Just Being Happy Can be Complicated.

One common thread is how happiness is both work and something that you can’t always plan. Sometimes you just stumble into moments or paths that take you to happiness. But it certainly is something that requires attention, moderation and practice. And it looks different for everyone.

My project is going well. I’ve structured it around a number of resolutions, and I have a great chart that I fill in before I go to bed every night. This alone makes me happy. I love the sense of reward and accomplishment it gives me. And seriously, it has gotten me to floss my teeth nearly every day. Something I don’t think I’ve ever done in my whole life.

I am not successful with all my resolutions every day–not even the flossing teeth, I missed one day. But I am more aware, more present, more mindful, and this is part of the key for me to gaining a stronger sense of self and happiness.

AND, I love how the chart looks visually. It’s related to documenting, tracking and journaling that I do in other areas of my life. (Like my Visual Diary) And it’s helped me identify the areas in my life where I want to devote more time–like my studio and doing nothing. As this first month wraps up, I’m looking forward to modifying the chart for August, stay tuned.




  1. Amanda says:

    I’m interested to know how you quantify how much you are “Being Melanie,” every day. Sending love and thanks. <3

    • Melanie says:

      That’s a great question, quantifying is so tough! I bet you noticed that one day where I colored in just an itsy-bitsy sliver in the “Be Melanie” box, and then there are the couple that aren’t colored in. I guess it comes down to how the action of not being true to myself impacted my day. The little sliver was something that I noticed and was able to “correct” but still impacted me. And you know what, I can’t even quite remember what those things were now. I just know I did or didn’t do something that wasn’t be true to my spirit.

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