As someone who suffers from manic-depression, I have a box of tools that I use to help me stay on the path of recovery and get as far away as possible from the black hole of despair. However, they are not all that different from the eight tools that blogger/author Gretchen Rubin uses in her happiness project. Now Gretchen offers a website, The Happiness Project Toolbox, where she helps you tailor the tools to your own life and, in the process, see what others have to say about them.
Her site, the Happiness Project Toolbox, offers eight free tools. Like James Bishop’s Optimism Software, Gretchen’s tools help you become an active participant in your recovery, transferring some of the accountability for serenity to you. And because they involve you in the path to peace, you come away with a sense of empowerment. I summarize Gretchen’s eight tools below in her language:
Tool 1: Resolutions
Commit to concrete, measurable actions
The Resolutions tool is the most important tool in the Happiness Project Toolbox. It allows you to commit to a resolution in writing and to track your progress. Frequently reviewing your resolutions keeps them uppermost in your mind, and scoring yourself gives you visible feedback. One suggestion: by framing a resolution as a concrete action (“Rent a movie once a week”) instead of an abstract goal (“Have more fun”) and by holding yourself accountable, you’re more likely to make progress.
If you make your Resolutions public, you can inspire other people, as well.
Tool 2: Group Resolution
Challenge a group to keep a resolution
The Group Resolutions tool allows you to commit to a resolution with a group, which is a great way to get the encouragement and accountability that help you stay on track. You can email friends to challenge them to join you, and members of the group can track each member’s progress.
If you make your Group Resolutions public, you can inspire other groups to make resolutions of their own.
Tool 3: Personal Commandments
Identify principles to guide your life
The Personal Commandments tool prompts you to identify the overarching principles that you want to guide your actions and thoughts. Making a concise list of your Personal Commandments is an excellent exercise in reflecting and articulating what you think are the most important values.
If you make your Personal Commandments public, you can inspire other people, as well.
Tool 4: Inspiration Board
Pull together things that inspire you
The Inspiration Board tool gives you a place to collect the quotations, photographs, websites, and books that spark your imagination. Just as fashion designers, choreographers, writers, and other creative people collect and display the materials that contribute to their vision, you can make an assemblage of things that move you.
If you make your Inspiration Board public, you can share the ideas and images that inspire you with other people.
Tool 5: Lists
Keep any kind of list
The List tool gives you a place to keep any list that’s important for your happiness: to-do lists, your-favorite-things lists, things-to-do-before-you-die lists, wish lists. Lists serve many functions: they can boost your efficiency, or serve as a kind of journal, or memorialize your aspirations.
If you make your Lists public, you can inspire other people, as well.
Tool 6: One-Sentence Journal
Keep up with a manageable journal
The One-Sentence Journal tool allows you to keep a journal on any topic. Many people have the urge to keep a journal but get discouraged because it’s so much work. Writing one-sentence entry each day is manageable. You can keep a general journal, a journal of your baby’s first year, a gratitude journal, a reading log, lessons you’ve learned as you’ve launched your start-up.
If you make your One-Sentence Journal public, you can inspire other people, as well.
Tool 7: Secrets of Adulthood
Remind yourself what you’ve learned
The Secrets of Adulthood tool allows you to remind yourself of what you’ve learned with time and experience. What bits of wisdom do you have to share with other people?
If you make your Secrets of Adulthood public, you can save other people from having to learn these secrets the hard way.
Tool 8: Happiness Hacks
Share tips about how to boost happiness
The Happiness Hacks tool allows you to share the tips and tricks you’ve learned about boosting your happiness. We’re all trying to eat right, stay positive, clear out our email in-box, make time for fun–what shortcuts have you discovered along the way?
If you make your Happiness Hacks public, your strategies can help make other people’s lives easier and happier.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Aug 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Borchard, T. (2009). 8 Tools for Happiness: Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project Toolbox. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/08/06/8-tools-for-happiness-gretchen-rubins-happiness-project-toolbox/