Recommended Reading: The Happiness Project


This article originally written for Wekudo and can be found here.

Per a recommendation at my workplace, I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. It’s one of those books that had always peaked my interest, but never made it into my shopping basket, because, thankfully, I’m already very happy. Frankly, I didn’t think I needed a happiness project. But after reading up on Rubin’s personal journey to become happier and more grateful in her everyday life, I’ve totally changed my tune.

This book is recommended reading for anyone who seeks to improve their happiness right where they’re at–without changing careers, taking a creative sabbatical, or moving into a remote cabin a la Henry David Thoreau.

I’ll admit, after I graduated from college, I genuinely believed that a cross-country move and a glamorous new job in a big city was what would make me happy. But what I learned as I trudged through my corporate internship in my hometown for the next two years was that happiness was never far away. If you seek happiness where you already are, and learn to be grateful for what you already have, you can improve your outlook without turning your life upside down. I still believe that to be true–there are so many ways we can bring more happiness into our daily lives without necessarily making any drastic changes to our living situation or career path.

Rubin’s happiness project began with an epiphany–she already had a great life, but she knew she should appreciate it more.  Rubin armed herself with a stack of library books and began researching theories on happiness (in other words, she did the hefty lifting so that us readers don’t have to!). Rubin’s approach led her to create a Resolutions Chart that would guide her journey throughout the year.

The book follows Rubin as she tackles a different aspect of her life each month: family, money, and mindfulness to name a few. She works through actionable steps to accomplish her resolutions to do things like get more sleep, be more patient, or make time for friends. Ultimately, she learns that small changes in her daily life can have a real impact.

I learned this for myself after the book inspired me to make several improvements to my own day to day life. For starters, I began exercising more frequently (taking the stairs, walking on my lunch break, doing yoga 5x a week), tackling home projects on the weekends (donating old clothing, decluttering my desk) and dressing better (updating my workplace wardrobe, buying comfortable shoes in various colors).

I’ve learned that, for me, taking a short walk during lunch is like hitting the reset button. I’m able to get back to my work feeling more energized and focused. Oh, and dressing better really did improve my confidence in my workplace. You know what they say: look good, feel good.

I’ve always known that exercising, cleaning, and dressing the part are great habits to have, but I was amazed at how my small actions could have such a positive impact.

By the end of Rubin’s year-long journey, she reflects, “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life.” In other words, she was able to find more happiness right where she was, and at the end of the day, I think we can all learn something from that.


Daily Habits for Happiness and Wellbeing to Embrace

This post was written for Wekudo. View the original post here.

Like most working adults, no matter how content I am, I can’t resist always looking for ways to find more balance, health, and happiness in my life. But despite the fact that I’m always looking for ways to improve, I’ve had a tendency to ignore commonplace advice to do things like take the stairs, drink more water, and dress for success. For the past couple of months, I’ve decided to make small changes in my day to day life to see just how much of an impact they can have. The results have been surprisingly encouraging. Here are the daily habits I’m finally embracing with open arms (and think you should too):

Drinking more water. Hydration is critical to our health and wellbeing, and there are several benefits of drinking water.  After struggling with occasional headaches and dizziness at the office, I realized I needed to be more mindful of staying hydrated. Each morning I fill a travel mug with ice water and carry it with me all day, filling up whenever I need to. I have my water in my car on the commute, carry it into meetings, and keep it at my desk throughout the day. It’s much easier to drink plenty of water when you make it accessible and convenient for yourself.

Staying active at work. I made a realization a couple months ago that my desk job had suddenly made me more sedentary than I’d ever been. In the workplace, it becomes really easy to go for 8 or 9 hours with barely any physical activity. Fortunately, there are many small steps we can take to be more active at work. There are also some simple stretches we can do that are good for those who sit most of the day. Personally, I’ve started taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking a few laps during my lunch break, and doing calf raises while I scan documents. These small, daily rituals have helped me to feel more energized and active at work and give me a great mental boost of accomplishment when I need it.

Dressing for success. We’ve all heard the saying: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Well, if I did that, I’d probably have to settle for wearing a Snuggie to work every day. For me, comfort is always a top priority. Style–not so much. Which, in the office, is probably not a good thing. Like it or not, people judge each other on appearances, and that can hold especially true in the workplace. I decided to take this advice to heart, and updated my wardrobe to include pencil skirts, dress slacks, and black pumps. What I’ve learned is that it feels good to look good. And the compliments I get on my updated appearance aren’t half bad either.

Taking a break–literally. Taking short breaks during the workday can be a wonderful way to recharge. I’ve always been a little uptight about productivity and focus at the workplace. Meaning, when I’d see my coworkers taking breaks to walk around the office, scroll through their social media feeds, or read the newspaper, I’d get irritated. “We’re here to work, not frolic around,” I’d think bitterly to myself. But I’ve since come to my senses. A few brief breaks during the day aren’t necessarily detrimental to your productivity–they can actually be great opportunities to clear your mind and recharge for the tasks ahead. I’ve found that occasionally taking short breaks to make a cup of tea, stretch my muscles, or catch up with coworkers results in a great mental boost.

Finding balance and wellness in the workplace can seem like a never ending challenge, but there are many small steps we can take each day to feel better and happier.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned these past few months is that your health and happiness should be a priority, even in the workplace. Whether that means taking a couple extra minutes to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to take a short break in the afternoon to catch up with a coworker, or spend a couple extra dollars on a tailored pair of slacks, happiness, healthiness, and productivity often walk hand in hand.

Bookish Confession: I’m a Book “Overbuyer”

Per a recommendation at my workplace, I’ve started reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” It’s one of those books I’ve seen at bookstores in the past, picked-up, and put back down. I never purchased it in the past because, thankfully, I’m already very happy. I didn’t think I needed a ‘happiness project.’ But after receiving this book from my workplace, I’m so very happy to be reading it. I’m learning so much about myself and my potential in each chapter (How can I be a better person? How can I improve my relationships with others? How can I cultivate an atmosphere of happiness?). One thing I’ve learned:

I’m a book overbuyer, and it’s starting to impact my happiness. 

Continue reading

Little Tips to Improve Your Work Life

I’ve been doing the corporate thing for 2.5 years now. What I’ve learned? That the littlest things can make a huge impact on your daily life.

Here are a few quick tips to make your time at the office (and those moments before and after) a little more enjoyable:

Drink water. If you’re anything like me, staring at a computer screen for hours on end will give you a killer headache. After months of popping ibuprofen constantly, I finally learned that filling up my water bottle 5+ times a day keeps my headache away. The more water I drink, the better I feel, AND drinking lots of water forces me to get up and walk around, which gives my brain muscles a little break.

Your office is like your room. Treat it as such. You spend the majority of your waking hours in your cubicle, make it feel comfortable. I don’t mean you need to bring in photos of your family, or purchase cute office decor… I simply mean that it helps to have comforts in your cube. A box of tissues, a hand mirror, a hairbrush, a coffee mug, deodorant, utensils, a blanket (I’m serious), etcetcetc…. All of these things will come in handy at some point.

Take a break when you need it. It can be hard to pull yourself away from your desk, but don’t underestimate the necessity of breaks. I bring an anthology to work with me everyday, and read a poem from it once or twice a day. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it allows me to focus on something I’m passionate about, pull myself away from my work, refresh my mind, then dive back in. You can benefit similarly by doing a crossword, having a casual chat with a coworker, or going on a walk.

Over the years, practicing these few little things have truly made me much more comfortable at work and have had a large positive impact on my attitude.

For some (much better) writing on similar topics, check out my articles on GenTwenty by clicking below:


Making the Most of Your Summer as a Young Professional

10 Ways to Give Back to Yourself Each Day

Whether Your Day Ends at 5pm or Not is Up to You


I Celebrated 22 by Eating Dinner Alone at Chipotle

ie. I didn’t celebrate.

At least, I didn’t celebrate my birthday on my actual birthday, and I certainly didn’t celebrate the way a typical 22 year old typically does (birthday shots in strappy stilettos at some hip bar with a group of friends???!!???? i don’t know, honestly).

Don’t get me wrong, I had cake and dinner with my family, and got a slew of presents (I’m lucky!) earlier in the week. But on my actual birthday, I went to Moosejaw, spent my evening trying out sleeping bags on the floor of the store (sleeping pad and all), walked to Chipotle and ate a chicken burrito bowl by myself, then went to a friend’s house and drink an Oberon before tucking in for the night (and I only did the last part so that I could feeeeel just a little bit average on my birthday).

You know what the best part of my birthday was? Joking around with the associates at Moosejaw, watching video clips on their register monitor, asking silly questions about sleeping bags, and ultimately laying down in a mummy bag while shoppers roamed the store.

I may not have a big group of close friends to celebrate with, but I have something I hold just as dear: These beautiful moments spent with strangers. I’m able to cherish the way the associate said “Bye forever” as he handed me my receipt. I love that small interactions with people I barely know can put a smile on my face as I walk down the street, and stick with me while I eat my burrito alone at a messy table. It’s a little bit like having friends everywhere I go. It’s a little bit pathetic… But it also allows me to appreciate the moments/interactions/opportunities that so many people overlook.

This post isn’t really about my birthday, or what I did or didn’t do for it. It’s about loneliness. It’s about appreciating the little things. It’s about being happy as all get out for the beautiful things you have, and you have so many.

I have a family who makes cake for a 22 year old. I have friends in every coffee bar and mountaineering store across the nation, and so do you, if you want to.


Why I Need to Love Myself, OR Why I’m Single and Happy About It

I haven’t been in an even remotely serious relationship in well over a year, and it’s been months since I’ve had any interest in a guy. Things have been going well. I’ve been focusing on myself, and on the things that make me a happier, more productive, and healthier person. I’ve been more content with myself than I have in years, and I don’t want anything, especially a boy, to come in the way of that.

To put it simply, relationships are toxic to me. Or rather, I am toxic to myself whenever I begin to show interest in someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated some great (and not-so-great) guys. I love having someone to open up to, to keep me warm at night, and to see on the weekends. I love the warmth that comes along with having a powerful, mutual relationship with someone. I love kissing. I love focusing intently on someone who isn’t me. But that’s exactly what hurts me.

When I begin to focus on someone new, I forget about myself. At least, I forget how to make myself happy. I put all my energy into him. I compare my standards of happiness to his. When he hangs out with his buddies on the weekends, I obsess over how few friends I have. When he goes golfing every Tuesday evening, I dwell on how pathetic it must seem that I spend every night at home with my books. I begin to look for ways to make my life appear more interesting; not just to him, but to myself as well.

I spend a lot of time alone. I am content this way. I enjoy spending my evenings with books instead of coworkers. I like having Sundays to myself to write blog posts and poetry. I like going out too… I like it a lot. But an evening at a bar is a rare treat for me, not a weekly occurrence. And the friends I spend time with are important to me, but they aren’t lifelong girlfriends that I share everything with, they are a random slew of guy friends that are great for joking around and playing foosball with. But if I want to go to Victoria’s Secret or spend the night in bed with a marathon of romantic comedies, you can bet I’m doing it alone.

The thing is, I simply don’t have the type of familial friend group that every guy I date inevitably has, and it makes me sad. It makes me forget that I enjoy my time alone. It makes me forget that I sleep easier when I’ve had a productive day of writing, or that a night of partying with friends nearly always ends in regret.

Let me be clear: The boys aren’t the problem. I am. And I accept that the reason I haven’t found a healthy relationship is because I’m not content enough with myself to begin focusing on someone else. I used to think that focusing on me was selfish, but finding self-love is truly the best thing I can do for those around me. I can’t begin to make another person happy, until I’m happy with myself. And I can’t expect anyone else to make me happy either… I have to be the one to find that joy.

If an amazing guy falls into my lap tomorrow (heh), I’m not saying I won’t pursue it… But I know that I have to be realistic about my expectations, and that I have to focus on my own happiness before anyone else’s, no matter how selfish self-love-obsessed (wut. i dunno) that may seem.

Adjusting to the Post-Grad Life

Maybe I talk (write?) about this too much, but I’m constantly working on my transition from “student” to “educated functioning adult.” Now that I’m out of school, my goals are broad, far-reaching, and scarier than ever. Suddenly, success isn’t measured by a number, by a grade, or by how many parties I can fit into my weekend and still ace that test on Monday. Now, it’s totally up to me to define my own success, and I’ve found that a bit overwhelming at times.

I have so many goals, but it’s up to me to determine how to accomplish them. There is no syllabus out there that will map out how to ace my life. Lately, I’ve found myself looking for answers in the biographies of those I deem “accomplished.” What were they doing when they were 21? I search through blogs of my peers who are traveling the world and living off the success of their own creative endeavors. Sometimes this gets me down on myself. I get discouraged. Shouldn’t I have started my career by now? Shouldn’t I be traveling? Shouldn’t I be out there living my life instead of just going through the motions of paying my bills and getting by? Then I realize, all I can do is just live my own life. It’s time to stop worrying about the successes (or failures) of those around me. It’s time to just focus on me. (For more about how I’ve learned to accept happiness into my life, check out my article here).

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a lot better at functioning in the “real world.” Actually, I’ve gotten a lot better at just functioning in general. Identifying my life goals, and focusing on them every day, has helped me to live a better life. I have a long way to go, and I’ve realized that there are a lot of little things that I should be doing regularly that would greatly enhance the quality of my life. It’s time to put them down on paper. It’s time to commit.

  • Meditate daily
  • Practice yoga
  • Eat clean
  • Drink lots of water (already doing this)
  • Spend more time outside
  • Unplug (impossible to do at work, but I need to do this more at home)
  • Read outside regularly (I do this often, but I need to really commit to doing it everyday)
  • Keep my office and living space clean and tidy
  • Sit less, stand more
  • Stop complaining
  • Smile often, even when I don’t feel like it
  • Plan ahead (make my lunch, set the coffee maker)
  • Follow a budget
  • Transfer money to my savings account every month
  • Stop worrying about the future
  • Submit my work to be published
  • Be happy by my own standards

Everything on my list is entirely doable. It’s up to me to commit and do the work.

What are you doing to lead a more well-balanced life?