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The Happiness Project | Earning Gold Stars

November 4, 2011

I’ve been revisiting Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” over the last few days and her own revelation about the need for praise has really resonated with me. Rubin asks “Why do I have such a need for gold stars? Was it vanity that needed to be stoked? Was it insecurity that needed to be soothed?” and concludes “Whatever the reason, I should get over my need (for her husband)…to applaud the nice things I did, and even more…to notice the nice things I did.”

It seems to me that we’re taught to want to earn gold stars. From school days to the work force, we set out to accomplish things so to be recognized either in the form of good grades, a promotion, or a bigger paycheck.

When I analyze my current day-in-and-day-out I can’t help but look at the things I want to be acknowledged for. Here’s my list:

– a clutter free and tidy house
– a clean and well-mannered child
– a tidy and well-maintained yard
– the meals I’ve prepared
– and about a dozen or so other little things

I want to earn a gold star for my housecleaning and domestic responsibilities. I want to earn a gold star for how wonderful my child is. I want to earn a gold star for the other little things I do, whether it be holiday decorating or picking up dog poop.

What if I stopped looking for acknowledgement from others? What if instead, I acknowledged myself? Why not congratulate myself, “Wendy, you slayed that laundry pile that’s been haunting you for weeks! Great job, woot-woot!”

Or what if I actually made a gold star board for myself? Literally starring the tasks I’ve completed. Will this give me satisfaction? Strangely, I think it might.

Do you feel the need to be recongnized for what you do day-to-day, especially if you are a stay-at-home-parent?

How do you earn your gold stars?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

sharon garofalow November 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

Great post Wendy! This sounds like a neat book. I find that I reward myself quite often. This is not ideal for my waistline, wallet or ego. I’m wondering what the happy medium is. :)

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Wendy November 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I “reward” myself often too but somehow I’ve come to think of those rewards as necessities and so they don’t seem much like treats. Does that make sense?

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Heidi November 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Definately feel like I need a board with stars. We as stay-at-home-parents do so much that goes unnoticed. There are times it would be nice for someone to take notice what we have done all day long (even though some of it is not obvious when you walk in the door).

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Wendy November 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Yes, I so agree with this. And so when it’s not obvious, that is when I feel the need to say “hey, did you see that I did … ?” so that I can be recognized. It’s like I’m begging for an “atta boy.” So sad.

The wiping of butts, kissing of boo-boos, managing the meltdown – these things will forever remain unnoticed and unrecognized.

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Sara @ Periwinkle Papillon November 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm

OK first of all, I LOVE that you and I are on the HP wavelength together! 2nd of all, I totally give you a gold star for blogging and all that you do.
I think it’s fair to say that one day – there will come a day – when the wiping of butts, kissing of boo-boos will be acknowledged. There’s that 1 moment of when you get that unprompted and heartfelt thank-you that will make the million other missed thank you’s totally melt away.
I know someone who made a sticker chart for herself as a parent: one gold star for not yelling for 1 whole week. My thought, I’d probably need to start a little smaller. :)

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Wendy November 6, 2011 at 9:09 pm

LOL! No kidding!
I need my star chart to read: took a shower, exercised, and stepped away from the computer.

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