Sunday, January 20, 2013

Creating Your 12 Commandments

Titanium by David Guetta feat.Sia on Grooveshark

It started snowing fairly heavily this weekend in Paris.  I grew up in Southern California so I'm not used to snow, it's actually 75 degrees in San Diego right now, but I wouldn't trade places.  The snow is beautiful and clean and fluffy...why not, for a change, right?

So I'm sitting cozily in my apartment and I am still working on crafting my 2013 goals and resolutions in addition to the 12 Commandments of Alexandra - by the way, it is never too late to have's only January 20 for crying out loud and regardless of the date, it is never too late to turn it all around.  Having a personal set of 12 Commandments is a concept I picked up from Gretchen Rubin's extremely well-done blog The How of Happiness.  She is also an ex-attorney, well-pedigreed (double Yalie, editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, Supreme Court clerkship...I know, I'm drooling too), who left the law firm track in order to methodically determine how to be the happiest person she could be.  This is not some amorphous pseudo-science, she intelligently researches all the available scientific data - and there is quite a lot, this subject is hot especially in tandem with research regarding psychotropic drugs - as well as ancient to modern philosophers on the pursuit of happiness and regularly blogs about her own empirical findings in this area.

Gretchen actually recommends that people have resolutions because it is proven that individuals who actively try to improve themselves are happier people than those who just sit and wait around.  And that makes sense.  Even if you achieve only 70% or 50% of your goals for the year, that means you're 70% or 50% better than the prior year; forward volition, any forward momentum, is progress and directly leads to the best life you can have, it is so much better than stagnation or regression.  And, unfortunately, human nature and the human body being what it is, unless you make a constant, pro-active effort to improve yourself, your body and your life, you will naturally just start regressing.  Sorry, that's the truth for everyone.

So, in addition to her resolutions and a plan in place to bring them into fruition (and your plan doesn't have to be daunting or super ambitious, baby steps are still steps in the right direction!), Gretchen also crafts her 12 Commandments which reflect the principles upon which she wants to live by - and she looks back upon them in her everyday life and when she has to make decisions.  Here is her post on them.

I love this idea.  Because the reality is, we know what higher principles make us proud of ourselves, what the path of integrity means for us on an individual level...the qualities we need to cultivate to be the best person we can be.  But in the rush of everyday life and in the heat of the moment...we forget and end up doing things that diverge from our path of destiny and happiness...we do things and say things and make decisions that we aren't proud of in retrospect or that we recognize as not reflecting our true northern star, the kind of person we want to be, that we know we should be, that we know we can be.

And not all of the commandments need be ethereal and lofty.  One of Gretchen's which I am going to adopt is Spend Out.  She and I share the same propensity of saving the "good stuff" for another day and feeling guilty for using nice things for no reason at all than because we have it right now.  For example, I might not wear a gorgeous silk dress I just bought because I'm saving it for a super hot date (when there's none even set), or I'll save the "good china" or that expensive bottle of wine for elaborate dinner parties that haven't even been yet planned.  It's a mindset that feels guilty about using the nice things we've bought right now and instead lives for the future, and that's not good because we should live in the now.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring, right?  And that's true for not only material possessions, but creativity - if you have a great idea for an outing with your friends, a date with your mom, an idea for your it now, don't wait "and see." So use the good stuff now, don't save nice things for the random future and Spend Out.

Anyway, I'm using this Sunday with the pretty snow falling outside to work on mine...I might share some of them later but in the meantime, here are some encouraging quotes, maybe not necessarily for the 12 Commandments, but just because it's nice to have pleasant thoughts on a beautiful Sunday.

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