In July I read The Happiness Project.
At first, I thought it was kind of silly. Wasn’t Gretchen Rubin‘s project really to make herself a better person, not necessarily happier? And why did she take such time to take happiness so seriously and make her project so structured? But I read the whole dang thing, which meant I thought it was worthwhile. And then I sat with it for a while–a few months worth of ‘a while’. Rubin was making changes in her life to be a better person because she theorized those changes would also make her happier. I kept going back to things Rubin wrote, re-reading sections, and thinking about my personal situations and attitudes and how I could (maybe) change them. I mean, I’m a pretty happy person, but I definitely foster some discontent.
I saw plenty of areas where I could be happier.
Some of the things she wrote really rang true based on my experience with people’s reactions about working to be a happy person.
Some people associate happiness with a lack of intellectual rigor . . . Creativity, authenticity, or discernment, some folks argue, is incompatible with the bourgeois complacency of happiness. But although somber, pessimistic people might seem smarter, research shows that happiness and intelligence are essentially unrelated.
Rubin wrote, “Of course, it’s cooler not to be too happy.” Well, sure! We’d all learned that by Second Grade, I think. I say, Meh. Whatever. I don’t wake up in the morning to be cool and I’ve never been considered intellectual so I guess I’m free to be . . . cheerful!
Rubin wrote, “Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.” I agree with this. It’s cool to be cool but it does take courage to be yourself, no matter what. Think about anybody you know who is unapologetically themselves, regardless of what other people think. They are usually pretty happy people.
I’ve said before though, it’s not always easy. It takes work.
People assume that a person who acts happy must feel happy, but although it’s in the very nature of happiness to seem effortless and spontaneous, it often takes great skill.
A lot of times it’s a matter of ‘fake it ’til you make it’. Rubin decided to systematically work to change things in her life that she thought would improve it, making her feel happier. She pinpointed resolutions to work on each month of the year and noted the difference between resolutions and goals. You hit a goal, you keep a resolution. Each day you try to live up to your resolutions.
I was genuinely impressed by her dedication–her discipline! She set three to five resolutions each month.
For twelve months! Amazing. She learned a lot and made a lot of progress.
I’ve always liked New Year’s because the mental line of demarcation of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ feels good. Then I realized that I don’t need to wait for January to start new resolutions. I can any time I’m good and ready.
I went to Rubin’s site where she shares ideas to start your own Happiness Project. I identified my aims and set two (I know, only two) resolutions to start. I determined that two things I could do to make myself happier would be to exercise regularly and manage my time better. I can’t even tell you how accomplished and disciplined I would feel!
And so it begins. Since I don’t belong to a Happiness Project group, you get to be mine. 🙂 You are so lucky! I’ve started the ball rolling but to keep this post from going on and on, I’ll keep you posted.
My Lessons from this:
- People aren’t necessarily happy by nature.
- Happiness can be learned or attained.
- I can be happier! 🙂
Are you working on a happiness project? How’s it going? Let me know. Maybe we can keep each other honest. 😉