Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Happiness Project

.... by Gretchen Rubin

I'd heard of this book a few times, and eventually I decided I would like to read it. This is a book that chronicles one woman's year long quest to become happier. She admits that her life is pretty good. She lives in a nice apartment in NYC, has a loving husband, two beautiful children, and just felt that she wasn't nearly as happy as she should be given her situation.

She does lots of research on happiness and sets herself monthly resolutions from January to December. Each  month, she works at those particular resolutions. And I do mean that she works... Basically, over the course of the year, she realizes that happiness doesn't just happen. Happiness is a choice, and may take work. Some of us might find it easier than others, and sometimes when you think someone is happy, you may not know the whole story. But, essentially, you are the master of your own happiness.

I prefer reading chick lit, so sometimes I found the material a bit dry for my "before bed" reading.  It's not a reflection on the author, but of my interest. I don't usually care much for self-help or even non-fiction. But, I really liked the idea of it, and stuck with reading it and really enjoyed the thoughts it provoked in me.

Some of the main points that she mentioned that hit home for me were that she should BE Gretchen. In other words, if she was the type to easily get annoyed with things out of place, well that was ok. That's her. She can't control her natural reactions. However, she could control how she reacted and how she framed her response. There was a lot of focus (that I picked up on anyway) on choosing how to deal with things. For instance, there was a part where she told her daughter to brush her hair as it was always messy. Instead of snapping at her to go brush her hair, Gretchen decided to turn that moment into a positive one, and brushed her daughter's hair for her. The hair would still end up messy later, but they had a nice moment together.

One concept really stood out and that spending time with women (for both men and women) leads to less feelings of loneliness. Women like to talk, and by spending time together, it really feeds our need for intimacy and belonging. I thought back to times when I've felt lonely, and realized that this is true. Now, going forward, if I'm feeling lonely, I'll make a point to spend some time with one of my friends. Actually, I'm making more of an effort to do this all the time now. Things tend to get busy, and I put off a walk at lunch or a drink after work in favor of getting in a run, or getting errands done. Now I'll make a conscious effort to see my friends. Maybe I don't "need" that time right then to chat, but they might.

Another simple idea from the book is just the benefit of laughter and of laughing at yourself. It's ok to be silly and not take yourself so seriously, and if you can turn a tense moment into a moment of laughter, you'll be better off. I can think of many times in my past that this was the case. Particularly, I remember my grandmother's wake when I was a teenager. Of course, we were all sad. Then my uncle bent down at her casket, and RRRRRIIIIIPPPPP! The seam split in his pants. He could have been upset, or angry, etc. He laughed, and the rest of us did too. That was one of the best mood altering laughing moments in my life.

Anyway, after reading this book, I am more aware of ways that I can reframe things to bring more happiness into my days. There is already a lot of happiness, but I think everyone can use more.

1 comment:

  1. I have wanted to read this book forever. It sounds like a great book! It's funny you like reading the exact opposite of what I do, I love self-help and non-fiction!
    Thanks for the review:)