I would never have read The Happiness Project if it hadn't been for Danielle at the WXROZ blog. She picked it for her blog's book club, and I've never belonged to a book club, so I thought that might be a fun way to try one out, one where I didn't have to attend meetings, lol. So anyway, if you want to join us and discuss this book too, go here. You can read our chapter-by-chapter comments there, and respond yourself if you're reading this.
I'll just do a quick review here, then, and mention a few of the things I found helpful or enlightening.
Gretchen Rubin decided she wanted to be happier, and she set about learning about happiness and creating a detailed regimen for changing things in her life. She figured that, by being happier herself, she would boost the happiness of those around her, especially her husband and two young daughters. She admits that spending so much time on her own happiness felt a little selfish, and there were times when I did think she was kinda self-absorbed. But she seemed to spend a lot of time and energy sharing her findings to help others be happy too, so good for her.
I don't know that I've read any self-help books since my freshman year of college. I didn't care for the ones I read, and I'm not dissatisfied with anything to the extent that I'd seek the advice of strangers. I've read a couple books on parenting by Dr. James Dobson, but that's as close as I've come. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find some helpful ideas in this book.
One thing that she suggested was, when you find a little task that would take less than a minute, don't put it off. I've started doing that, saying to myself, "Will this take less than a minute? Then do it!" My house is less messy as a result. I put away the shoes on the floor or change out the dirty towel, rather than say, "Oh, I don't have time." She also suggested making an effort to smile more, especially when talking to people. I've tried that for three days now, particularly when interacting with my kids, and I feel like I've been nicer and less irritable.
Rubin also talked about her collection of True Rules -- an "idiosyncratic collection of principles" (pg. 241) -- that she has used all her life to respond to various situations. She realized some were more helpful than others, and tried to stop using unhelpful ones. I'm trying to figure out what my own True Rules are, and maybe I'll post them here some time, just for fun. Rubin's were things like, "I know as much as most people" and "Never eat hors d'oeuvres, and never eat anything at a children's party." (pg. 241) Mine are very different, but the idea is the same -- little sayings I use to respond to things, mentally, as ways to get through things.
So, anyway, I'm glad I read this book because it had some good ideas, but I'm not inspired to start my own Happiness Project.
Particularly Good Bits:
"Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my actions." (pg. 55)
"Although enthusiasm seems easy and undiscriminating, in fact, it's much harder to embrace something than to disdain it. It's riskier." (pg. 268)
"A willingness to be pleased requires modesty and even innocence -- easy to deride as mawkish and sentimental." (pg. 269)