Friday, June 03, 2011

Weekend Reading: The Self-Help Edition

Recently, The Mama Bee, one of my favorite bloggers writing about the issue of working mothers, returned after an extended hiatus. So far she has mostly been tweeting, not posting, but that's OK, because she tweets links to interesting articles. This week, she linked to a post from Gretchin Rubin of Happiness Project fame about talking yourself out of a funk and an infuriating post on The Vault about some insensitive stupid comments that some guy in British finance made.

I'm intrigued by Rubin's Happiness Project, and keep meaning to read her book, but failing to make the time to do so. Have any of you read it? Should I get it on my reading list? I don't usually go in for self-help type books, but I rather enjoyed 168 Hours and found it useful, so maybe I should get over my prejudice against the genre. (BTW, 168 Hours is coming out in paperback about now, so if you were tempted to read it back when I was doing my life reorg, now it is cheaper.)

The Vault post, or more accurately, the quote that prompted it, brings up a common complaint I hear about hiring women- that we're just going to get married, have kids, and drop out of the workforce. Or, if we stay in the workforce, we're not going to be as dedicated as the men. I call bullshit on this idea. There are all sorts of reasons why workers might drop out of the workforce- parenthood just happens to be the most common. My husband and I both took 4 month leaves of absence to go on our "big trip" around Asia and the Pacific. This is one month longer than I took for my maternity leaves (I took 3 months off each time, returning part time for one month). My husband worked for awhile with a guy who was just working to make enough money for his next trip- he had already dropped in and out of the workforce several times and was only in his early thirties. Even without leaving the workforce, people burn out and abruptly leave jobs all the time, to go off to do something that they hope will be more rewarding. At least with a maternity leave, employers have time to prepare for it.

And while I will be the first to admit that I have had some less than stellar days due to sleep deprivation, is that really worse than some young, single party animal who rolls into work with a hangover now and then? Overall, I'd say that my productivity dipped for a few months after each maternity leave, but bounced back to something close to pre-baby levels. I still get praised for my productivity and efficiency, even though I have shifted my schedule to accommodate day care pick ups and family dinners. Also- my husband's productivity has gone through similar cycles associated with the births of our children, but I don't hear anyone saying that it is a bad investment to hire family men.

If you are a working mother feeling bad after reading that Vault post, you can try Gretchin Rubin's "argue yourself out of it" technique and see if it works... and maybe this awesome post from Zen Master Moo about why she works will give you some arguments to use on yourself.

In other news... the Economist has an interesting article about how we're in the anthropocene age now. I haven't had time to fully digest it yet, but I find the concept interesting.

And finally, some silliness from my husband: Muppet Star Wars action figures. They have already worked their marketing magic, because now he says he wants to go to Disneyland.


  1. Anonymous7:36 PM

    I don't know if this is still true, but back in the late 1990s when I took Women in the Economy, we read an article that showed that men and women left career type jobs at exactly the same rate. The difference: women were more likely to leave the labor force entirely, men were more likely to leave to work for a competitor. Pregnancy is just a lot more noticeable and memorable than someone giving 2 weeks notice and leaving.

    Re: The Happiness Project: My husband liked it a lot. I couldn't handle how she wrote about her husband and her relationship with him. DH didn't like that part either, but it didn't bother him so much. I'm just a romantic.

  2. Anonymous7:38 PM

    Oh, and that statistic works, btw, because women are much less likely to jump across jobs than men are. They tend to stay with the same employer unless they leave the labor force.

  3. Anonymous5:27 AM

    I don't have twitter... but I want to say to CayleeL: Cuddling/screaming and not sick sounds like teething. Try motrin. Possibly a tummy ache (has the baby been eating anything different than normal? Is it between 3 weeks and 3 months (the tummy awareness age)?).
    Also: reverse cycling is nice because you don't run out of pumped milk. It is a reason we coslept though-- he could eat while I slept.

  4. I read and enjoyed the Happiness Project. Rubin focuses on one aspect of her life each month for a year, so I think that even if you don't enjoy the whole book, there will be a few chapters that you can relate to. Another option is to check out her website and blog, a lot of the content from her book is on her website.

  5. I religiously read gretchens blog, and I really enjoyed her book, despite much of her work being on the blog. I'm sure its all been said before, but I liked her no-nonsense approach and it has helped me a lot.

    Particularly the 'act like you want to feel'. If I get all moody and I take it out on other people it makes my mood so much worse, its really helped me to remember to literally grin and bear it.

    I like the commandments, and I like the idea of keeping an eye on how things are going and trying not to constantly do the same things which get in the way of my happiness...

  6. the milliner5:24 PM

    I just finished reading The Happiness Project. I thought it was good, not great. I found myself feeling really eager to read it in the first 3-4 chapters, and then my interest kind of waned.

    That may be however because I kind of skipped through some parts to read ahead and ended up doing some of the exercises for myself after I'd read a few chapters. Once I'd done my own exercises (mostly the Personal Commandments) I think I was ready to move on and this is why my interest waned. Also, I've done so much work over the past years in figuring out what would make me happy that I just needed a kick start again in re-examining that.

    But she does bring up some interesting things.

  7. I (semi)regularly read the Happiness Project blog and like it a lot. I haven't read the book yet, but it's on the reading list for my mothers' group book club, so I'll let you know how it is!

    By the way, that was a great link to Zen Master Moo and her reasons for working. They are many of the same reasons that I work outside the home,too.


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