Monday, March 1, 2010

Happiness- 2010 Reading Goals Book #9

Yesterday, I plowed through the last 75 pages or so of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. It was extremely overdue and I can't stand even the smallest library fine. I knew I was approaching almost $2 in fines. So, since I had a clingy baby with a high fever, I mostly sat on the couch and read.

When I first picked up Rubin's book back in December or January (I can't remember now), I was attracted to yet another "one-year" experiment book. I admit that I'm sucker for what Rubin termed (although she didn't coin the expression) "stunt journalism". I didn't even realize there was a term to describe these kinds of books. I had read lots of books wherein the authors challenge themselves on something for one year. I had read Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less and A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy (where the author complains for most of the book that her children will not appreciate little hand-carved wooden toys from Germany because they prefer flashy plastic) or Julie and Julia where Julie Powell cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year (a book I just couldn't finish because I found the real Julie Powell just plain awful). I have not read Living Oprah: My One Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk (not interested in this title) or The Year of Living Biblically. You see the trend though.

I'm completely intrigued with the idea of a year-long challenge. So, that's why I read Gretchen Rubin's book. I consider myself a pretty happy person and I know I've stumbled onto some Rubin's findings on my own, but it's nice to read about someone else's journey of growth.

After listening to Dennis Prager's Happiness Hour for years, I was intrigued by Rubin's project. I had learned a lot about happiness over the years from Prager and had even read his book, Happiness is a Serious Problem. (I have to admit that I was a bit dismayed that his book didn't even show up in her bibliography. He's such an advocate for happiness.) He contends that we have an obligation to be happy and that happy people make a better world. Yup. It sounds so easy, but why do so many people find it so difficult to be happy? Is it because happiness, isn't always the easy path?

Rubin identified something she wanted to focus on each month for a year. One month she cleared the clutter from her home and that energized her (No surprise here for me. Less is more. It's my mantra!) and another she focused on going out of her comfort zone and challenging herself. She took an intense drawing class. She decided to write a novel in a months' time. (She discovered that happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.) Interesting! Happiness is sometimes is hard work. It isn't the easy path. Isn't that ironic? She found St Therese of Lisieux so fascinating that she bought seventeen books about her and studied her happiness and discovered it wasn't always easy, but she continued to choose happiness despite her situation. Simply, St Therese acted the way she wanted to feel.

Although slightly gimmicky, this book ultimately made me think more about happiness and hopefully by incorporating a few of things I hadn't really thought of before, I can boost not only my happiness, but the happiness of my family.

(By the way, my 2010 Reading Goals list is currently on my sidebar. I won't review every book I read, but happiness is an important topic and something we should consider every day.)

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