Thursday, August 11, 2011

But I Won't Call it a Project

For some reason, I got it in my head that I really had to read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. I'm not sure why. I'm actually a pretty happy person.

But anyway, I'm reading it. So far, the parts that have resonated with me the most are where she is defending the pursuit of happiness as a worthy goal and where she is exploring the way that other, less happy people, interact with happy people. This is no doubt because I believe that happiness is the point of life (making it a very worthy goal indeed) and because I have, at various points in my life, found myself in that strange dance between a happy person (me) and someone who seems to simultaneously want to draw on my happiness for energy and convince me that my happiness is all a delusion.

The funniest thing about reading this book, though, is how I felt compelled to write a list of things I want to do in order to be happier. Even though I'm not unhappy. I think this means that I am very suggestible. Regardless, here's my list:
  1. Listen to more of my music. Almost all of the music I listen to these days was either made for children or selected by my husband (he is the one who is motivated enough to put CDs in the cars). That isn't to say it is bad music (OK, some of the kids stuff is, but mostly I try to avoid that kind of kids music). But whenever I take the time to put on my Pandora station or dig out one of my CDs, I'm always struck by how happy it makes me. So I should do it more often.
  2. Do more yoga. I need to do this for physical reasons- I have a repetitive strain injury on my right arm, and yoga is the only thing I've found that keeps it at bay. But also for mental reasons. I love how yoga makes me feel. And yet... I haven't settled on a yoga class since changing jobs (and therefore not being in the right location to continue going to my old yoga class). There is a free one in my building, but from what I can tell it is more vigorous than I really like. I'm not doing yoga for exercise. I like a very gentle class. But maybe I should take it anyway.
  3. Get out more. I live in a top vacation spot. There are lots of fun things to do. We should go do them.
  4. Lower my expectations. I have more fun when I let go of my perfectionist streak and just let life happen, even if that means that Petunia's nap gets screwed up. It turns out, Petunia doesn't really mind that. 
  5. Put a positive spin on things. I wasn't stuck taking a day off with a sick kid last Friday (Petunia had another one of her fevers). I was given a chance to get some errands and chores done while also spending more time with my adorable toddler! Yeah, that only works up to a certain point... but up to that point, it really is amazing how much changing the way you look at something helps.
I haven't finished the book yet, so maybe I'll add more things to this list. But maybe not. Five is a nice number. Large enough to seem meaningful, but small enough to seem doable. We'll see how it goes.

8 comments:

  1. Somehow the idea of reading that book made me a little sad, like it was trying to scientifically deconstruct happiness into a list of to-dos. I like to think of it as magical instead, but love that it made you think of what you want to do to be happier.

    I 1000x agree about listening to more of your own music. BabyT and I alternate between "my music" and "baby music". Fortunately we land somewhere in the middle, because her music is Caspar Babypants, which I actually love and find myself singing with nary a baby around, and I've convinced her that The Decemberists are pretty awesome.

    And yes++ to more sleep! (I need 9-10 hours a night, and rarely get it.)

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  2. I couldn't get through the book. My DH liked it a lot... but every time she talked about her husband it made me sad (their relationship does not appear to be one based on mutual respect... at least not the way she writes about it). So I decided the best way to be happy would be to stop reading the book. :)

    I think the Paradox of Choice is the "self-help" book that has done the most to increase my happiness. Then Your Money or Your Life. DH liked Stumbling on Happiness, but the author was such a prick I couldn't get through the intro.

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  3. the milliner4:44 AM

    I'm less enamored with the book now than I was when I first read it. But I'm definitely a list lover too and couldn't resist making my own as well...though it's a bit longer...16 items! I wouldn't focus on all of my list everyday, but I found that I liked having a list to remind me what small actions can make me feel happier. And a lot of these things are things I already do. When I'm in the throes of everyday life or in a difficult situation, I tend to forget these simple things. I need a cheat sheet.

    The music situation in our house is exactly the same. I just recently bought a charger/FM music player so that I can listen to my iPod in the car (DH's doesn't work with my phone) and it's been amazing (the music thing is on my list too). I don't know why I waited so long to do it.

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  4. I'm also in the "need to listen to my own music more" camp. I have a computer full of it, so I don't know why it never occurs to me. I'm going to listen while I work today.

    Something that always makes me happy is doing something good for someone else. Either complimenting something, giving someone my parking voucher so they don't have to pay, or buying a sandwich for someone living on the street. Things like that always make me feel warm and fuzzy, and I should do them more often.

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  5. Some of the stuff that makes me happy - music, time in the sunshine, waking up early because I've had a enough sleep...

    Plus, I've decided, after two really bad colds... I think being healthy is important enough to my happiness that I should probably start taking vitamins.

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  6. I've read the author's blog, and I dunno, all the list-making and the perseverating on the ideal of "happiness" just seems a little off - but I can't quite put my finger on why that is exactly. (Not really my style I suppose?) However, if you say the book is great then that definitely makes me want to check it out from the library, so I'll do that.

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  7. @hush- I wouldn't say that the book is great, but I've found it an easy read that made me think about a few things.

    @ARC- I don't think the book is deconstructing happiness scientifically. In fact, the scientist in me would say that she isn't even close to doing that! But she is thinking about what makes her happy and how to be happier, and since she's a person who like lists and goals... that's what she ended up with.

    @nicoleandmaggie- I agree her marriage seems a little odd. I guess I'm just assuming that is because of how she's drawn her boundaries about what she'll share. I'll have to look at The Paradox of Choice. Although, really, I don't know that I need a self-help book in this area! I'm still not sure why I chose to read this one.

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  8. Even given her boundaries, she's pretty nasty when she talks about her husband. I'd hate to see her unleashed!

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