2009 was a bit rough for me. Indeed, I heard that from a lot of people.
So Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project was a welcome addition to my before-bed reading because, well, it makes me happy and gave me new energy to start 2010 off on an upbeat note.
Top pointers from the book include:
• Your family is only as happy as it’s least happy member. If that’s you, start a Happiness Project of your own and raise the happy in your household considerably.
• As a kid, and even through our 20s, we had clear opportunities for “gold stars” — getting good grades, graduations, awards, new jobs, marriage, big birthday celebrations etc. But in your 30s, those gold stars seem fewer and farther between. You do your job, you do your errands, you raise your kids, you try to make time for fun with your significant other… but as you put in so much effort, you feel unappreciated. Where’s your gold star? Rubin advises all of us to make a list, do your stuff and then give yourself a gold star. That’s what being a grown-up is about.
• Be Yourself. I know, it’s clichéd, but Rubin’s description of how she decided to “Be Gretchen” inspired me to be clear about who I am. She writes that learning to be herself means “accepting my true likes and dislikes… I have to face the fact that I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn. I won’t be admired for my chic wardrobe or be appointed to a high government office. I love fortune cookies and refuse to try foie gras.” What does it mean to be you?
The Happiness Project isn’t quite a self-help book — it’s more of a memoir of a year of research into self-help — but even without quizzes and action lists, it does the job of any good personal improvement book: It inspires. Check it out and make 2010 your year for a Happiness Project of your own.
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