Well, really more like four or five. But I’m getting there. Oh, so slowly, though. Some of that is inefficiency: I should have splurged for the wide brush and the long handle for the roller, and I didn’t. And dragging the ladder around is a pain, made worse by all the things in the middle of the floor turning the space into a teeny-tiny obstacle course.

Some of it, though, is simply physics. Or would it be chemistry? The primer dries only as fast as it dries, and trying to rush just makes drips that will need to be sanded away before I can start with the real paint. And the only thing that’s worse than that orange for the coverage is the bright green. I’m still not reconciled to living with it, but if I’d known how much time I would spend grumbling under my breath before it was gone, I might have rethought. Fortunately for me, at this point it’s too late.

This morning I reminded myself to practice happiness as I painted. The first step in practicing happiness is always to take a deep, mindful breath. But my deep breath smelled like paint fumes, of course. The second step is to think of something I’m grateful for. That’s easy right now, of course, because the world is a terrifying mess, but being grateful not to have bad things happening to me or those I love (to the best of my knowledge) is not a good kind of gratitude. It doesn’t make me happy, it makes me anxious.

My third step in my happiness practice is to check my physical well-being: is there something I could do to be more comfortable, to feel better? A snack, a sweater, a better arrangement of pillows? A cup of tea, a more pleasant scent from my essential oil diffuser, music more appropriate for my mood? Given that I was painting, the answer was basically no. A cup of tea would have been lovely, but I wasn’t going to take a break for it.

The fourth step in my happiness practice is to look for something delightful. Maybe it’s something purely beautiful, like the rhododendrons that are flowering all over the place, or maybe it’s charming, like the chickens or the sleeping cats. In a national forest, it’s remarkably easy to find something to appreciate. But in this case, I was staring at a wall and I’d been staring at the exact same wall for four mornings in a row. It didn’t give me a lot of scope to find delight.

At that point, I had to laugh at myself. I have never failed quite so thoroughly in my happiness practice. Fortunately, laughing at myself improved my mood and I started working on reframing my task, from an incredibly tedious repetition of yesterday’s chore to a careful investment in my long-term future. I started imagining what the Tiniest House would be like when I’d been living in it for a few months, a year, many years? The longest I’ve ever lived in one place is seven years: my average is a lot closer to two or three. But I pictured myself twenty years in the future, still living there. My imaginary Future Me was being very grateful to imaginary Past Me for creating such a pretty space, which made current Present Me a lot more tolerant of my efforts.

All that said, tomorrow I will be back at it. I’m not excited, but it’s going to be really nice someday very, very soon.