One of my favorite changes to my daily life since our move to Australia is the massive chunks of time I now frequently have to read book after book while laying in the sand soaking up the rays and ocean breeze. Since I’m no longer able to participate in my Chicago Book Club, I thought I would share my thoughts (and hopefully hear some of yours) about my most recent read, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
Summary: One day while riding a city bus in New York City, Gretchen has an epiphany that time is quickly passing by without fully appreciating the things that matter. The book is the chronicle of her twelve month journey to happiness with each month focusing on a specific area of improvement/reflection.
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner!” – Colette
Takeaway: Since starting this book, I constantly find myself subconsciously thinking and/or verbally sharing the thoughts and ideas from Gretchen’s happiness project and how they fit into my life (and Justin’s) and a given situation. One reoccurring example for me is found in the thought to “live fully and thankfully in the present”. It is so easy to sit at an amazing location with beautiful views and instead talk about the logistics of tomorrow or next week’s plans when in reality we should sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy NOW.
Another happiness resolution I am finding most helpful to remember is “it’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light” and to continuously remind myself that how I handle everyday annoyances largely influences the outcome and my own self view. For example, if Justin’s mess is driving me crazy I can handle it two ways: (1) the easy way, yell, get mad and frustrated until he is guilt-tripped into cleaning and I feel awful and guilty or (2) make a joke that suggests he needs to clean, we laugh, he cleans, I feel better that the mess is cleaned and I didn’t have to nag. Humor and anger can both portray a desire but they both produce two very different results.
I also loved that Gretchen’s happiness project focused on discovering happiness in her current life not some huge life altering change. Yes, this sounds hypocritical coming from me who basically packed up her life from the past twenty-six years and decided to travel the world for eight months, BUT in reality this adventure already in just two months has taught me so much about the true appreciation of the people, events, and lifestyle I so regularly took for granted. It means so much more to find the happiness in the everyday since that is the regularity of your life, day after day, and life is too short to waste it being unappreciative and unhappy.
I feel like I could go on and on about the thoughts and points in this book that are internally ingrained with me (i.e. clearing the clutter, gossip, goals vs. resolutions, etc), but I think overall the main lesson is to find the happiness in the everyday and to remember that I control my level of happiness!
I would love to know: what does happiness mean to you? Have you read this book? What are your feelings and emotions about Gretchen’s Happiness Project? Did it influence your life whatsoever?