Happiness is…

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
It wasn’t until Raych over there at books i done read raved about this book that I even considered it.
(In the book itself, Gretchen Rubin bemoans, then makes light of, being part of “stunt nonfiction.” I confess a disgust for stunt nonfiction, even as I read it. And read it. And read it. Kind of like the way people speak of reality TV… and then watch the hell out of it.)
The thing is: I tell you: Raych was right.
This book is better than I could have imagined.
I kept jotting notes and adding life-improving measures to my to-do list.
Here are my notes to self:
– Reframe unliked tasks by deciding you enjoy them. For example, “I love cooking!” (my own real-life example). It can change your attitude toward the situation. (True.) (Though sometimes I suck at doing this. When I can work up the strength, though, it’s True.)
– This is one of my favorites: “Be a treasure house of happy memories.” (pp. 101-106) This is all about experiencing happy moments more thoroughly while they’re actually happening, and keeping reminders of those happy times for later.
– Create a mental “area of refuge” where you can take shelter when bad thoughts and feelings creep in. (They will creep in, and you can fight back, dang it.)
Rubin acknowledges that happiness ain’t easy. She quotes G. K. Chesterton: “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” Again, TRUE. Some days, being cheerful can wear a person plum out.
And she writes that, in all honesty, the most important part of her happiness project was the Resolutions Chart she created and maintained. (The lack of such a thing in my life is how I know I’m not yet serious about getting that darn happy. You’re still looking at the “before” picture here.)
Here are the other things that made this book work: First, Rubin was honest about herself, and that gave the thing a ring of clarity. Second, she mentions a couple of times, and closes with the thought, that figuring out how to be happy during the good times is likely to help a person when the really bad stuff in life comes to roost. While obviously a person ain’t gonna feel blissed out with joy when everything goes to you-know-where in a handbasket, having a few happiness habits already established is likely to smooth some of the bumps in the road. And also, when things are indeed good, We. Should. Figure. Out. How. To. Be. Happy!
I ask you: Why not?
Hey, check out The Happiness Project blog.
It’s good. Choose something you like there, and do that thing, and almost surely happiness will happen. Magical, no?

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