I just finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. It's an illuminating book.
The author assigned herself tasks for a year--each month devoted to some area/aspect of her life.
February, for her marriage. March was for work--she began happiness project
blog. April for her young children (to improve her connection with them). June is devoted to
improving her existing friendships and making new ones. By November, her tasks were to "Laugh outloud. Use good manners. Give positive reviews. Find an area of refuge."
She addresses her inner life by changing her attitude ("Attitude," chapter eleven) and being more "present" ("Mindfulness," chapter ten).
In essence, she gave her life a makeover without leaving her city.
I'm astounded by the number of books she read on happiness--given her time constraints.
I liked how she processed the issues in her life. She incorporated expressing gratitude; but
instead of a notebook, she used her computer to write one sentence at a time. She tried laughter
yoga, kept a food diary, wrote emails to her husband, cleaned her friends' closets and her own, wrote a novel.
Early on, a friend recommended therapy. Ms. Rubin didn't feel she needed therapy, since she wasn't really UNhappy. Instead, she analyzes herself and sets out to change the aspects of her life she felt needed changing.
At certain points in the book, it feels a little stilted: She writes, " 'Fake it till you feel it' was an effective way to change my mood in the moment, as I followed my Third Commandment to 'Act the way you want to feel'. . . By 'faking it' I could become engaged in subjects and activities that didn't particularly interest me . . . ."
So, often she squelches the urge to berate her husband for not doing
something he said he'd do. She focuses on changing herself, her behavior, her attitude.
But once she "was angry that he hadn't made a phone call that he'd promised to make"--and didn't hold back. His response? He sends her a charming e-mail with a cartoon character kissing a second cartoon character, as two hearts hover above them. The message was, "Don't be mad."
Overall, the book is really engaging and almost anyone will find common ground with
the author. Most of us--if not all of us--are seeking happiness. I really like the book's subtitle
"Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun." And I may start a happiness project of my own.
--Yolanda A. Reid
Check out Gretchen Rubin's websites www.happinessproject.com www.gretchenrubin.com