A year in review (pt 1)

desktop calendar

Booking under: Keith

As another week passes by, we’re one step closer to closing the book on 2016 and opening one for 2017. Throughout this year, I’ve been very happy to go through The Happiness Project with Nicole, jotting down new lessons each time and putting them in practice.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy to follow through with everything. And there are days when it all seems like more of a hassle than anything else. But here, I want to go over my favourite takeaways from The Happiness Project. Without further ado then…

1. Follow the one-minute rule

fancy watch

Not essential: a fancy watch to time tasks

This one’s taken from January, and I still think it is one of the most practical recommendations from the book. By way of reminder, the one-minute rule states we shouldn’t “postpone any task that could be done in less than a minute”. Whether this is at work, for small tasks around the home, or something else entirely, I think this is a great tip and recommend you follow it too!

2. Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings


Emotions are like colours. Yours might be different from someone else’s, but their’s are equally vivid.

Taking a lesson from April, another big thing I learnt this year is to acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings. As someone who prefers to be logical and tends not to be excessively emotional, I’ve learnt that we need to acknowledge how others feel, even if I may not share in how they feel.

Another way to practice this is to try and think of how people are feeling in any given moment. I’ve recently been hospitalized and it has been wonderful to have my family and Nicole come visit. In particular, Nicole stays very late, and does whatever she can to make me feel better. While I am incredibly thankful for every little thing she does for me, I can see that it’s tough for her too (especially after a long day of work). To that end, I do my best to take care of myself, to show her that I am ok, and ask that she returns home in a timely way to ensure she gets enough rest. While I might be sick, it doesn’t diminish the tiredness or other demands in people’s lives, and that’s something I try to keep in mind.



Thoughts and clouds both come in all shapes and sizes. Fortunately, thoughts can’t “rain”.

In May, our topic is “being serious about fun”. For that month, the thing that most stuck with me was learning to interrupt negative thoughts. I’ve talked about how interrupting negative thoughts about work pressure with pleasant memories can brighten up my day. But as it turns out, I found a new application for this takeaway this month too!

No one likes to be a hospital patient. As I lay on my bed with an IV bag next to me, it can be pretty depressing to think about being sick, missing work, and not seeing my friends and family. However, I’ve come to find that inserting positive thoughts is even more important in this situation. As I think about how lucky I am to still be alive, how various test for maladies came back negative, and how I will soon be back in the “normal world”, I am filled with optimism, at least for a moment. And for someone combating sickness, that mental boost can really help make things smoother.

4. Follow Words of Wisdom

books contain wisdom

Books are a great source for words of wisdom.

In October, we looked at some personal words of wisdom. I identified four such rules for myself. They are:

  • All people should be treated as equals

  • Consider what would happen if everyone did something
  • Choose positive
  • Bitter first, sweet later

These are some personal principles that I’ve inherited from my upbringing and personal reading. Indeed, taking the time to identify and write them down clearly has been one of the best things about this year’s happiness project, and I look forward to continue following these in the years ahead.

5. Keep Content

happy guy

Happy hypothesis: people who use good manners are more contented with life

My last pick for the year comes from November, the theme for which was keeping a contented heart.

There are a lot of similarities from here with the learnings I listed above. However, the one particular aspect to note from keeping content is to display it by dealing with others with good manners. When we’re happy, it’s easy to treat everyone respectfully. But as I’ve come to learn, using good manners around others can boost our own level of contentedness too. A lot of times, happiness is a two-way street.


Staying in a hospital this month has given been so many occasions to use good manners. I’ve been genuinely impressed with the good service of the hospital staff, their willingness to assist in the smallest ways, and how they’ve helped me recover. From the doctors following my case to the cleaning lady who changes the trash bag next to my bed, I’ve taken every opportunity to thank them for serving and helping me. By extension of this, I’ve been giving positive reviews for the hospital service. While I still made some minor criticisms to help them improve their service, I reflected to the staff that I was, in sum, very impressed with their service. Finally, as a patient stuck within the four walls of a sick ward, I’ve been given more incentive to remember the good. Perhaps once I’ve been discharged, this whole experience will a good thing for me to look back and learn from!



Et voila! My last post of 2016. It’s a little surreal to type these words, but what a great journey it’s been! As we near the finish line, check back next week for Nicole‘s top takeaways for 2016 – you won’t want to miss it. Also remember to layer up and eat plenty of nutritious food, hopefully you won’t be checking into a hospital like yours truly this Christmas!


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