Happiness is a Warm Project

July 05, 2010

One of my favorite recent reads has been Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Like most of us, Rubin wasn’t unhappy—but she wondered if perhaps with some attention and effort, she could become happier. “I had everything I could possibly want—yet I was failing to appreciate it. Bogged down in petty complaints and passing crises, weary of struggling with my own nature, I too often failed to comprehend the splendor of what I had. I didn’t want to keep taking these days for granted,” she writes on page two.

Rubin decided to devote a year to seeing if she could improve her level of happiness, and “The Happiness Project” was born. She turned to scientific research, age-old wisdom and popular culture for ways to do this—focusing on a different subject each month. “A ‘happiness project’ is an approach to changing your life,” she writes in "A Note to the Reader." “First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.”

As she compiled her subjects and resolutions, she found “overarching principles” emerging. These she dubbed her "Twelve Commandments" and her "Secrets of Adulthood."

I enjoyed this book so much that I’ll be sharing several posts about it with you over the next few months. I’m not choosing to pursue a formal Happiness Project of my own right now, but I couldn’t help coming up with my own “Twelve Commandments.” They are, in no particular order:
  • There is time enough.
  • Live joyfully.
  • Be Kathy.
  • Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.
  • Pause before you say no.
  • It is what it is.
  • Rise to the occasion.
  • I am enough.
  • Slow down—faster isn’t better.
  • Progress, not perfection.
  • Help is everywhere.
  • What would I do if I wasn’t scared?
If you want to start your own Happiness Project, or just learn more about Gretchen’s, visit her fantastic blog at http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/ or hunt up the book at the library or bookstore —and please come back here and share what you learn!

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  1. A big thanks, KJ, for recommending this book. I've just finished it and as I shared with you, felt in many ways as if I had been sitting in a dark room, unaware, until Gretchen flipped on the lights.

    I guess you could say I'm in a semi-prep stage as I've been gathering threads of my thoughts to move forward with a more focused approach to being happy.

  2. Kathy, I really enjoyed this review. Your writing held such excitement and fire I wanted to run right out and buy the book immediately -- although more appropriate to my situation now is to wait and head to the library, like a good girl. ;)

    Your list of commandments are amazing!

  3. Er, rather, is... your list *is* amazing. It's late, and I'm for bed, obviously. ;)

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it. We'll have to get together and thrash out our new approaches to happiness. :)

  5. Meredith--I'm so glad my excitement about this book came through in my writing about it! Definitely check it out of the library when you get the chance.

    Now if I could just LIVE by those commandments...

  6. What a great concept, Kathy! Words to live by, definitely. I especially like the "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" commandment. I think I'll keep that as a mantra as well...

  7. It's not very sophisticated, but it's pretty effective!

  8. Sounds interesting. Thanks for posting... will give this some thought.

  9. It's a fun read, even if you don't start a project of your own.