happy new year, happy baby

Photo by Beanz

All of our New Year's resolutions boil down to one thing. We all want to be happy. So we think, if we lose just this much weight, life would be glorious. If we save more money, we would sleep better at night. Personally, I think I'd be happier in 2009 if I got my book idea written, kept my baby weight off and bought makeup.

But according to something I read this week, I've got it all wrong. According to zenhabits blogger and dad of 6, Leo Babauta, there is 1 simple way to make 2009 our best year ever, and we can start right this second:

Stop waiting for happiness. Happiness is right here, right now.

Okay, stay with me here. This idea changed my mindset this week for the better.

I know I want things like a better house, car or raise. But when I reach a goal, I find myself scratching my head wondering, 'Now what?' 

Leo of zenhabits reminds us that the journey is the most important part, not the ending point. Much like Oprah's show on Spirituality 101 last Wednesday, he says we should appreciate life in its fullness, wonderfulness, and we should do it right now. Look at the gorgeous sky, and realize that it is a miracle, or listen to music that fills you with happiness, and realize that, too, is a miracle.

This struck a chord with me this week. I've been spending a lot of time wishing my 16-month-old and twin 3-year-olds would get bigger already. I've been telling myself life will be so much better when they go to school full-time, when they can take baths by themselves and when they can help me clean up after dinner.

So in the last half of this week, I stopped myself at least once a day, and I enjoyed my youngest one's babbling noises, and his awkward steps that get stronger every day. I took time to listen to what the 3-year-olds were saying, and instead of being annoyed with them, I enjoyed how they wanted to show me all the things they could do--like stand on one foot and spin in a circle. I even tried to enjoy the process of cleaning up the kitchen by focusing on their wonderful playtime going on behind me while I scrubbed pans. (Wait, was I supposed to be happy about scrubbing the pan? I get confused.)

I loved the idea: Stop waiting for happiness. Happiness is right here, right now.

Here are some more tips from Leo of zenhabits about enjoying the process of reaching our goals (i.e., New Year's resolutions):

  • Losing weight. Will you only be happy after you’ve lost weight and are slim and trim? Screw that! Make it an enjoyable journey—exercise can be a lot of fun! Eating clean, healthy food can be incredible, once you learn to enjoy it! Enjoy the journey to health and the great body will only be a side benefit.
  • Getting productive. Do you have a desire to crank through your to-do list, stop procrastinating, and knock down your projects, one after the other? Well, that’s good, but realize that your to-do list will never ever be completed, nor will your project list. Learn to enjoy your work - every minute of it — and productivity will come naturally.
  • Learning a new skill. Whether you want to learn French, or to play the trombone, or to master Jeet Kune Do, will you only be happy once you’ve learned the skill? No! Learn to love the learning process! It’s an exploration not only of new territory, but of yourself. It’s wonderful.
  • Simplifying. Do you want to get rid of clutter? Will you be happy only when you’ve gotten rid of all excess things? No! Enjoy the process of decluttering — it’s one of my favorite past-times.
  • Writing a book. Do you want to write the Great American Novel? Don’t wait until you’re done to enjoy the book. Love each moment you can spend writing. It’s a miracle.

What do you think? Is it really possible that happiness is right here, right now?