Why September is the perfect time to start a Happiness Project

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Emily Bronte

September! For anyone who works in education, or has kids, or even just never lost the rhythm of their school days, you know the truth – September is the real new year. I’m not original in pointing this out, Marian Keyes did in her newsletter this month, my inspirational happiness guru Gretchen Rubin already did on one of her recent podcasts, Happier, and The Pool published an article about La Rentree last week. For me, when I think of the calendar it doesn’t start in January; I am strictly an academic year person. There’s something joyous and promising about children back at school, crisper, misty mornings, the promise of new boots, the anticipation of cosy nights and the excitement leading up to Christmas.

All of which is absolutely true: I love September. But over the past few years, I’ve found myself disliking late Autumn and Winter. Long-time blog readers will know that Spring is my truly favourite season, also a time of promise and rebirth. Early Autumn is beautiful, the weather is also sort of moderate and temperate, and the clocks haven’t yet changed. It’s the slide into Christmas and darkness that gets me gloomy. The pressure and overindulgence of the festive season, the grim skintness of January, when no one wants to do anything or go anywhere, and everyone’s detoxing and dieting. And darkness. Did I mention darkness? I didn’t used to feel this way. The lead poem, by Emily Bronte, I first read when I was in Year 9, in an old poetry anthology which contained the poem we were meant to be studying in that lesson. I went back at lunchtime and I memorised it by heart. It’s a bit teenage emo-y, because of course emo subscribes to the Sally Sparrow philosophy that ‘sad is happy for deep people.’

Well, no more. Because I have changed my mind on that one. One of my newfound “Secrets of Adulthood” is that sad is not happy for deep people. Happiness is happy for deep people. And rather than be dragged down by Autumn and I’m going to do my best to make this Autumn and Winter (and then Spring and Summer) a happy time. So I’m embarking on a grand-scale Happiness Project.

And what, I hear you cry, is a Happiness Project? Great question, readers! Well, the concept came from Gretchen Rubin, of course, author of The Happiness Project and a range of other great books. On her website she explains:

A “happiness project” is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.

I did start my Happiness Project on September 1st, the first day of Autumn. That was a week ago. So far, I’m enjoying it. The overall theme of my Happiness Project is “Embrace the Seasons”, and that is September’s theme too, like the title song of a really great album! I’m reminding myself daily to embrace the seasons, because there’s a deep truth in the idea that just as there are meteorological seasons, which we can’t do anything about, we have seasons in our lives too. Not only do I want to embrace the season I am in right now, but I want to embrace the seasons of the girls’ lives too. It’s so easy to wish their little lives away when you bounce from weekend to weekend, school holiday to school holiday. There’s so much to enjoy in their lives, I don’t want to forget that.

I’ll share with you my plan for my Happiness Project and my September resolutions in due course, but clearly one of the things in my life which brings me joy, satisfaction and engagement is writing, and particularly writing on this platform, my blog. So one of my resolutions that is going in my Happiness Project is that I am going to commit to posting on the blog more frequently and regularly. I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy reading about my progress with my Happiness Project. It doesn’t mean I won’t post about other things, and I’m hoping that it will be a conduit into some of meatier topics the famous no-longer anonymous survey respondent suggested (travel, ethics, politics). I can’t promise, though, that there won’t be a return of the What I’m Wearing posts, but maybe in a new format. After all, sometimes a bit of superficial frivolity really does bring inner happiness.


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