Needing Some Holiday Stress Relief? Think Happiness Project.

Merry freakin' Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas, I Think .

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the hap-happiest season of all.  At least that’s what the the Andy Williams Christmas song classic says.

You wouldn’t know it where I live.  I was just at one of the big box stores doing some last minute Christmas shopping and experienced an exchange between the customer and the cashier that went something like this: (My observations are in parenthesis.)

Customer:  “Do you have any boxes?”
Cashier:  “You have to buy them.”
Customer: “Okay. Where would I find them?”
Cashier: “Down there.”  (She pointed with her head in the general direction of where I’m guessing the boxes might be?)
Customer:  “?” (Looking towards the location where the cashier’s head pointed.)
Cashier:  “Down there where that man is.”  (That really narrows it down.  The store is ridiculously crowded because it’s THREE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!)
Customer: (Picking up her package that she had just purchased,) “Never mind!” (Walks out.)

Then the cashier rang my items up, shoved the bag at me and I walked away without so much as receiving a “Merry Christmas!”

So where is it that the hap-happiest time of the year song takes place?  From my observations, this is one of the most stressful times of the year.  And you know what stress does to us.  It makes us cranky, depressed, provokes overeating, and can even make us physically sick if it goes on for too long.

The holidays might be exacerbating the stress in the shopping centers right now, but we have all had numerous encounters with strangers that were rude and disrespectful to us – or someone else – and it had nothing to do with holidays stress.  When was the last time you took a road trip where someone didn’t cut you off in traffic, ride your bumper or salute you with their middle finger?

The Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin, the author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Project had her aha moment in 2009.  She was riding a city bus and realized that she was not spending her time on the things in life that really mattered to her.  From that point Gretchen decided that for the next year she would pursue happiness.  The Happiness Project is a memoir of that year.  Gretchen says that she ‘spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.”  The book made it to #1 on the New York Times bestseller.

Not only did she write a book but she launched a web site – where I happened to find the tips for holiday stress relief that I was looking for to pass along to my co-workers -and absorb myself, of course, for our holiday wellness program.

Besides her blog (which has so many wonderful posts it will take me weeks to read them all) Gretchen invites her readers to join a Happiness Project Group, start their own group, subscribe to daily quotes and tips, and of course follow her on Facebook or Twitter. If being happier will make me healthier, sign me up for a project group.

The Happy-Healthy Connection

Happy, upbeat people have been found to have less of the stress hormone cortisol in their system.  Cortisol, when chronically elevated, is believed to lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  Some studies have even linked happiness to longevity.  Whether or not being happier helps us live to be 100, it can make the years that we are around more enjoyable.  So now that I’ve provided you with that information I’m sure you’ll decide to be happier, right?  Ah.  If only it were that easy. 

Now you get out there and have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Happiness Project 2012

Since I’ve been musing about what my New Year’s Resolution will be, it might be fun to think about starting my own Personal Happiness Project Group for 2012. I’ve already taken the first steps:  I’ve registered for the Moment of Happiness daily-mail quote and have added The Happiness Project button from the Happiness Project web site to the sidebar of this site.  (It’s okay.  Gretchen puts it out there to share.)

Maybe I’ll invite my friends to join or I’ll join one of the groups already in progress (I see there is one in my area).  I’m thinking I should go back to the store I just came from and ask the cashier to sign up. Possibly a resurrection of the Smiley Face Button from the 70’s would cheer everyone up.  Or I could start a cyber sphere group and invite my blogger friends and readers to join. Let me know if you’re interested!