Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I don't know what pictures to use so SELFIE.
Instead of a normal book review for The Happiness Project, I'm going to share with you what I found to be most interesting and what I would like to adopt in my life.  If you don't know, Gretchen Rubin set out to spend a year of her life focusing on how to boost her happiness in daily life.  She wanted to appreciate her life while she lived it.  In her own words: "I wanted to change my life without changing my life".  To accomplish this, Gretchen decided upon 12 areas of her life she wished to improve in and assigned one per month, created area based goals she wished to work on each month.  The entire novel is full of interesting food for thought.  I'm going to share 6 ideas I found most interesting and want to incorporate into my own life, one per month (January-June; don't want to give everything away!).  The Happiness Project isn't a how-to guide for happiness but rather a memoir by a friend.  She is honest about her failures and misgivings throughout the novel changing it from a definite guide to a personal exploration inspiring the reader to discover how to change their own life.  I'm not even scratching the surface of this novel.  If you find the following insights interesting, I encourage you to check out the rest of the book!

January - Buyer's Remorse Clutter
This is one of my greatest nemesis.  Too many times I've bought clothes which I have never worn.  For example, I own a mustard yellow pea coat. I thought it was awesome when I bought it, however I have only worn it 10 times in the 4 years I've owned it. Yet, I cannot throw it away because it was expensive and I haven't used it enough. Gretchen hits the problem right on the nose: "rather than admit that I'd made a bad purchase, I hung onto things until somehow I felt they'd been 'used up' by sitting in a closet or on a shelf".  I need to throw these things away.

February - Dealing With Anger
Some believe it is better to vent all anger. I am not one of these people.  I view anger as an incredibly unhelpful emotion which only breeds more anger. I find that when I express anger I inwardly hope that the person or object I'm frustrated with will change, which is usually impossible.  However, if I accept that something is difficult, I begin to look for ways to cool my anger myself instead of forcing change on something else.  I was vindicated in this belief when Gretchen talked about how expressing anger only amplifies it.

March - Expanding Your Self-Definition
Many people advocate for trying new activities and learning new things but Gretchen added another factor besides the joy of learning, expanding self-definition.  She claims that buy having more talents and activities, one feels less threatened and unhappy when one of them is attacked as you are comforted by that fact that you have other things to work on.

My friend Mo's artwork

April - Acknowledge People's Feelings
During this month, Gretchen focused on parenthood and I thought it was very interesting how the acknowledgement of other people's feelings helps you toward the outcome you want more than arguing would.  Plus no one feels mean or hurt in this scenario! I would love to be conscious enough of what I say to do this.

May - Enjoyment Lasts
While focusing on leisure, Gretchen asks her friend for help discovering what she liked to do and her friend answered "What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you'd enjoy now". The simplicity and truth of this statement has made it stick in my head.

June - Spontaneous Trait Transference
Gossip never feels morally correct anyway but the spontaneous trait transference makes me want to never say another negative thing. Basically psychologists have shown that when you call someone arrogant, mean, or other adjectives, the person listening to you automatically associates the speaker with that quality.  So quite literally talking bad about someone only makes you look bad.

I hope you enjoyed this little segments from The Happiness Project.  I really do love this book and can see myself rereading it multiple times in the future so do yourself a favor and pick one up next time you go to the bookstore or your library!

(Oh and Happy Holidays everyone.  I hope you all had a great Christmas/Holiday season and will have a great New Years!)

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