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A Happiness Moment February 22, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Goals, life.
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Check out the comments under my last post… the author of The Happiness Project stopped by! I noticed Gretchen’s comment while I was at work today and boy, did that make my day. It was a small act on her part, but she took the time to take a look at my little corner of the internet and leave me a smile. I’ve been grinning ever since.

The Happiness Project February 16, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books.
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Have you ever contemplated your life and found it vaguely unsatisfactory? You realize you have a good life overall — friends, family, home, interests — your life is full. At the same time, something is missing. You’re going through the motions, running on the treadmill of responsibility, missing the small things, not quite realizing the happiness that should be there.

This frame of mind is where Gretchen Rubin found herself one morning. Her life was good but she often missed the details and didn’t fully appreciate her life. It wasn’t that she was unhappy with her life or an unhappy person, but there were too many times when she also wasn’t quite happy. Times when she was irritated or peevish or simply not very nice.

In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen spent a year focused on activities to increase her happiness. She modeled her year loosely on Ben Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues and focused on one part of her life each month. Since she is a full time writer and the Happiness Project was also her work project, she also included plenty of time for research on happiness theories. As the months progressed, she built on what she had learned in the previous months. Out of that year a blog was born and a book was written.

I’m intrigued with the concept. On the one hand I’m a bit uncomfortable. It seems self indulgent to focus on my own happiness as though I am the center of the universe. On the other hand, the only person I can change is me and if I am happy, content, at peace with my life, then my interactions with the world around me will be more positive.

Most of what Gretchen shares in her book is common sense stuff. Taking care of yourself physically (exercise, adequate sleep, eat right) will help your mood. Children grow up in a blink so make the effort to make happy memories, work on projects together and be silly. Follow your passion. Enjoy now. Try something new. Be grateful. Laugh. Be nice. Cut people slack. Make time for your friends. What makes her Happiness Project unique is purposing to examine any and every way to increase happiness.

I love reading memoirs and love this new non-fiction genre of “spend a year doing something and write about it”. It is so much more enjoyable to read stories of how an individual tackled an issue, what they learned, where they struggled and failed, how they succeeded, than it is to read a more academic self-help book. Somehow, reading one person’s story inspires me more to consider how to incorporate the ideas into my own life.

Although I’m not quite inspired to launch my own full blown Happiness Project, I hope I’m more aware of the little joys in my life. I want to challenge myself to learn something new.  I want to live in the now instead of fretting over the past or worrying about the future. I want to remember that “the days are long but the years are short” and to enjoy and appreciate as much as possible.