I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin with librarian-blogger Joy Weese Moll and others at Joy’s Book Blog. It’s not exactly self-help, but it might inspire you to start your own Happiness Project. Visit Joy’s Book Blog to join the group read or find more discussion of The Happiness Project. Feel free to join in tonight’s Twitter chat at 9 EST / 8 CST, hosted by Joy,
1. Of the three topics covered in chapters 4, 5, and 6 (Parenthood, Leisure, and Friendship), which area would you like to improve the most in 2014? Why? Would some of the techniques that worked for Gretchen work for your situation?
The theme of making and keeping connections, and the author’s musing about an old friend she had lost track of over the years in Chapter 6 made me think I need to figure out a way of getting together with friends more often, and keeping in better touch with the ones who don’t use Facebook.
One conclusion was blatantly clear from my happiness research: everyone from contemporary scientists to ancient philosophers agrees that having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.
2. What idea from chapters 4, 5, and 6 of The Happiness Project could you use today that would likely make you happier?
“Cut people slack.” This is also from Chapter 6 (Friendship). The author comments how we tend to excuse ourselves because of our situations for things that we would be annoyed at others for doing. (“When other people’s cell phones ring during a movie, it’s because they’re inconsiderate boors; if my cell phone rings during a movie, it’s because I need to take a call from the babysitter.” ) She describes an incident when how someone stole a taxi that was pulling over for her. Instead of getting angry and indignant (which also wouldn’t have changed the fact that she had to wait for another cab), she thought of the emergency reasons someone might grab the first cab he saw without even noticing it was pulling over for someone else. She remembered she was trying to be more generous in her thoughts, and cut this random stranger some slack.
3. What idea from chapters 4, 5, and 6 of The Happiness Project are you pretty sure wouldn’t make you happier at all, even if it seems to work for Gretchen?
Startng a collection (an idea from Chapter 5, Leisure) isn’t something I think would make me happy, but Gretchen’s attempt to find pleasure in collecting something didn’t work for her either. (I have a lot of books, but I don’t really “collect” them. At least, I don’t think so.)
After having started both of my collections, I had to admit–I don’t have a true collector’s personality. Maybe one day I’ll develop an interest in something that’s intense enough to make a collection interesting–but I haven’t found it yet. Turns out I can’t just decide, “I’ll start a collection!” and tap into the collector’s high. Alas, that Secret of Adulthood is true: just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t make it fun for me.
4. Gretchen likes to collect quotes and use them in her writing. Have you run across any quotes in The Happiness Project that held special significance for you?
From Chapter 4, Parenthood, when she’s thinking about the work/chore aspects of family life, and thinking about “fog happiness,” the kind that surrounds you, but when you look closely, isn’t there. My parenting days are really over, but this quote can apply to non-parents, also:
Many activities that I consider enjoyable aren’t much fun while they’re happening – or ahead of time or afterwards. Throwing a party. Giving a performance. Writing. When I stop to analyze my emotions during the various stages of these activities, I see procrastination, dread, anxiety, nervousness, annoyance at having to do errands and busywork, irritation distraction, time pressure, and anticlimax. Yet these activities undoubtedly make me “happy.” And so it is with raising children. At any one time, the negative may swamp the positive and I might wish I were doing something else. Nevertheless, the experience of having children gives me tremendous fog happiness. It surrounds me, I see it everywhere, despite the fact that when I zoom in on any particular moment, it can be hard to identify.
If it might make you happy, visit Joy’s Book Blog for other discussion posts on The Happiness Project!