Hi friends! We’ve told you before, but we are huge fans of author Gretchen Rubin. Many of you have probably read her book, “The Happiness Project”. Well, we picked the book for our book club on The PLACE for the month of November. For those of you that haven’t read it, Gretchen created a year-long Happiness Project for herself. She creates a theme for each month and then comes up with a few concrete goals to work on. This time re-reading the book, I loved the February chapter focused on marriage. One of Gretchen’s goals is to do a week of extreme nice – meaning that she picks one person to be extremely nice to for one week. She picked her husband and she made the goal to not criticize him, nag him, or snap at him. I decided to try it. Oh my gosh! What a great week! The trick is that you don’t tell the other person you are going to do it. I have since challenged all of my friends and even my poor Sunday school kids to try it out. Here are a couple of observations:
- When I wasn’t immediately trying to get my way in every situation, I was able to see Sam’s side much more clearly. For example, we were buying decorations for our Christmas tree and I thought I really wanted white lights. Well, it was the week of extreme nice, so I let Sam pick. He went with rainbow colored lights. This probably would have bugged me a few weeks ago, but after coming home and putting them on the tree, I love them! It also made ME happy to see something make Sam so happy.
- Attitude is everything: when I began each day with a positive attitude towards my spouse, the little stuff (like forgetting to cap the toothpaste) didn’t bug me as much.
- Looking at things from your spouse’s point of view is healthy – I realized that Sam and I are so different and look at many things differently, but that is why we are so good for each other. Many times Sam is a lot more logical than I am and in most cases, he has thought through decisions much more extensively than I have, so it’s good to give him a chance to share his ideas (because they tend to make more sense in the long run).
- I loved Sam so much more by the end of the week. I was able to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. I am so lucky to have a loving husband who truly bends over backward to make me happy.
- We had more fun! I realized I can be very bossy and stubborn, especially when it comes to our evening plans. When I let Sam choose what we were doing, we had tons of fun!
- I give my kindness to everyone before I give it to Sam. I spend all day trying to be kind to friends and co-workers and by the time I am spending time with Sam, he often gets the tired and grumpy version of myself. Putting him first in my happiness expenditures really made a big difference in my happiness. He is the center of my world and it felt good to make the effort to make him realize that.
- I tried to come up with one kind thing to do for him each day. Most days this just meant that I made the bed or cleaned the kitchen. He didn’t notice everything, but I could tell our lives ran smoother when I consciously thought of something kind to do for him each day. This was a lightbulb moment for me because these simple acts usually take under 2 minutes and I am normally so slow to do them.
- Sam never asked why I was being so nice. Ha! I think this is a good thing. Hopefully, it means I am not a terrible person because he didn’t notice a huge change. He was pleasantly surprised to hear about it when I told him I got the idea from Gretchen’s book.
For our book club on the show, we got to interview Gretchen a few weeks ago. It was so great – except for the dozens of technical difficulties that came up. Many parts of her book are about maximizing your time, being responsible, etc. – I felt the opposite of that explaining that we were having issues with a brand new audio board. I shouldn’t have worried because Gretchen was so kind and understanding. She was a joy to talk to. It was fascinating to hear from her perspective what sticks out to people most from her book. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest you do! Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
We don’t need to be perfect, but we can all try to be a little better! If you try the week of extreme nice, let us know how it goes!