Sunday, May 30, 2010
The Happiness Project
New York, Harper Collins, 2009
Week 22 Memoir
When I was twelve we moved to a new town across the state from the town where all four of us had been born. One day, several months after we moved, I saw my normally happy and self-assured mother sprawled across the bed sobbing. I stood and watched her for awhile, and then backed away and crept down the stairs. I pondered over that scene for quite a while until I asked her about it. She said that she was so unhappy after the move, missing her friends and her connections in our old town. At that moment I got an insight into my mother I had just taken for granted. My mother’s happiness depended not only upon our Dad and us, but on her friends. They were the ones that gave her strength and made her happy.
Many of us have sung the words, “Is that all there is?” Gretchen Rubin actually did something about it. She set out not to change her life circumstances so much as to assure the happiness of the circumstances she was in. Luckily, she didn’t have to change her basic circumstances, just her discontent. She had a good marriage, delightful children, a lovely home, and a good career. And more importantly, she recognized those blessings at the outset of her project. However, she did feel that she could find ways to alleviate the vague sense of unease and aggravation that she constantly felt as well as a feeling that life was passing her by.
Like all good left-brained people, she read up on the subject, set some goals and resolutions, made some affirmations, and began a year long project to make sure her life remained happy. She read a lot of books about happiness, picked a model, St. Therese, analyzed her happiness and discontents, created twelve commandments for behavior, and some secrets of adulthood. Then, she divided her resolutions up over the twelve months, and spent the year writing and blogging about the project. The result is the book, The Happiness Project, and an ongoing blog http://www.happiness-project.com/.
1) If I want to be happier, I need to look at my life and think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth.
2) One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.