The Happiness Project

How Do You Remember To Count to 10?

I’m quick-tempered, and one of my greatest happiness-project challenges is to bite my tongue; an excellent way to boost my happiness is to keep my resolution to ” Leave things unsaid .” In the end, I’m always happier when I don’t make some angry or snarky comment. But easier said than done.

This is particularly difficult with my husband. Even when I manage to leave some comment unsaid three times, four times, five times, often a version of that comment pops out of my mouth in a weak moment.

I’ve made big strides in this area since I started my happiness project, but I still have a long way to go.

Mindfulness is the key, but my challenge is to find a way to be mindful in an angry, annoyed, or hurt moment. When I remember to “count to 10,” I can usually manage to do it, but often I say something I regret before it even occurs to me to count to 10. One of the reasons that St. Therese of Lisieux is my spiritual master is that she writes so well about the struggle to leave things unsaid.

The best way to leave things unsaid is to leave them unthought , or if I’ve thought them, not to dwell on them. I’ve noticed—no surprise—that the more clearly, and the more often, I’ve articulated some grudge or criticism in my mind, the more likely I’ll give voice to it.

Have you found any good ways to count to 10, to leave things unsaid, to keep yourself from ruminating?

Self-mastery. As Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

* Yet another happiness-project group is forming! I’m especially thrilled to see this one starting, because it’s in my own neighborhood of Manhattan. Check out the Facebook Group or e-mail for more information, and if you know someone who might be interested, please pass along the link.

* I send out short monthly newsletters that highlight the best of the previous month’s posts to about 26,000 subscribers. If you’d like to sign up, click here or e-mail me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com . (sorry about that weird format—trying to to thwart spammers.) Just write “newsletter” in the subject line. It’s free.