Courtesy of http://www.happiness-project.com/
I passed this book in Barnes and Noble on more than one occasion. Amazon told me that I would like it. Honestly, the title and the brightness of the cover really caught my eye.
I remembered it at the last-minute when I was writing up my summer reading wish list and I decided to put it at the top because I have been meaning to read it for such a long time.
The book is good because it is real. Not sappy, tragic, “terrible things have happened in my life but I am going to turn this around” real (which can also be good). Just, “I have a decent life, but with minimal to no change of who I am, I can probably be happier” real. That is what made the book easy to read, and easy to relate to.
The author Gretchen Rubin, is very honest about her upbringing and life. To sum it up, she comes from well-educated parents, she has a law degree, she is married to a successful man, and she lives in Manhattan. So yea, her life isn’t hard. But as the old saying goes (the author spent a good portion of the book discussing this, too), “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” or at least, not necessarily.
She decided one day while riding the bus in NYC, that it was time to make some changes, without really changing anything. She came up with a very calculated charting method, specific goals, and what she called the “Splendid Truths,” or rules to live by, always. She clearly states that this is her happiness project and that other people would have different goals, rules, and truths. The idea though, was that she told the story of how she meticulously planned and charted her happiness for a year.
Each month she had a different goal, with a set of actions to reach the goal. She explored new activities, new attitudes, mindfulness, patience, smiling, and going outside of her comfort zone to see which things made her happy. What she discovered was that a lot of things were just not “her” and the one ting she kept reminding herself of was to “Be Gretchen”. In other words, learn who you are and what things there are that you like and will make you happy. Sometimes the idea of something is much more attractive than the actual thing.
One of my favorite of her discoveries was when she realized that she should stop doing things because she wished she enjoyed them. I know that I can relate to that; there are things that we try to like because we think they may make us seem smarter, cultured, or more adult, but those aren’t necessarily the things we REALLY enjoy. Throughout the book she frequently mentions her love of reading, she quotes extensively, and always mentions trips to the library. What she discovered though, was that she really enjoyed Children’s Literature. Actually, it was something she knew, but was afraid to admit:
“But my passionate interest in kidlit didn’t fit with my ideas of what I wished I were like; it wasn’t grown-up enough.”
Still though, as part of her project she pursued what she enjoyed. She reached out and found that MANY of her peers where also interested in kidlit, and POOF! a kidlit book group began.
There were times during the reading of this book, when I was reminded that she definitely came from a different place than the regular Joe. Like for instance, at one point she mentioned trying to be more patient and understanding of her children. She wanted to nag less about little things. The example she gave of trying not to nag, was avoiding bugging her young daughter that she had “the dreaded middle part,” when she did her own hair. Personally, I think it is a silly thing to care where your 7-year-old parts her hair. The truth is, different people care about different things. Also, I part my hair in the middle all the time…
This book has helped me set some goals for myself. I am not following the Happiness Project exactly, although there is a website where you can build your own happiness project, but I am motivated to make changes. I want to”Be Kelly” and to find what actually makes me happy, not what I think makes me happy. If you are at all interested in learning by example without being preached to, this is the perfect book.
The Happiness Project is definitely worth a read! I have it on my Kindle if you want to borrow it. You will have to teach me how, though!
Now I am reading, Throw Out Fifty Things, by Gail Blanke. I came across it on my very exciting trip to the library (Seriously exciting) yesterday. I know, I know, you are thinking, “But Kelly, that isn’t on your reading list. How will you fit it in?” I don’t know how I will finish all of the books on my list but here is what I do know, by picking up that book and deciding to read it right now because it fits into my current goals and interests, I am making progress in my quest to “Be Kelly”.