Author: Gretchen Rubin
Info: Copyright 2009: Thorndike, ME: Center Point Large Print.
Where acquired: Library check out.
Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭✭ 1/2
What it's about: Rubin, an attorney-turned author, chronicles her happiness project--a year of finding out what makes a person truly happy and how to live a more fulfilled, genuine, joyous life.
Why: I'd never heard of Gretchen Rubin or her project until I saw an interview with her as part of a webinar put on by Michael Hyatt. Quite frankly, the interview didn't do anything for me, but I did start listening to her podcast, Happier, which got me curious about her books.
"...if I wanted a happiness project, I’d have to make the time. I had a brief vision of myself living for a month on a picturesque, windswept island, where each day I would gather seashells, read Aristotle, and write in an elegant parchment journal. Nope, I admitted, that’s not going to happen." - p. 16
"...people have an inborn disposition that’s set within a certain range, but they can boost themselves to the top of their happiness range or push themselves down to the bottom of their happiness range by their actions." - p. 20
"Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, move helpful, more likeable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens I wanted to be one of those people." - p. 33
"I realized happiness has four stages. To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory." - Page 172
"Now, I see that it's like saving money, you can't save for when you get laid off, after you get laid off; rather you have to save while you have a job and the money is still coming in. Life is like that, you have to DO while you are able to think of what you want, what you like, what needs it will fill, how it will enhance your life, how it will help you to maintain you, so that you have some reserves when crunch time comes." pp. 217-218
"Show a Readiness to be pleased. Most people would prefer to make people laugh then to laugh themselves to educate rather than to be educated. It's important to allow yourself to be amused and to be interested. After all, one of the most delightful of pleasures is to please another person." - p. 247
"Tend your sick ones, oh Lord Jesus Christ. Rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones; soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones; shield your joyous ones. And all for your love's sake." Saint Augustine of Hippo - p. 414
What I Liked:
- Her project consisted of ideas anyone could try or adapt.
- She's a wife and mom, but the whole book didn't revolve around that. She saved that for her next book Happier At Home (which I won't be reading anytime soon).
- I like a book that sends me to a dictionary and/or Wikipedia.org. No, I'm not being facetious. It's fun to learn new concepts, to discover historical figures I'd never heard of, and to enhance my vocabulary.
- This may seem like a negative, but it's refreshing to have her admit she's an agnostic--she's not sure of the existence of God--rather than a definitive atheistic "no." At least she's open.
- Her observation that it is easy to be heavy, but hard to be light makes a whole lot of sense. Negativity is quite easy since it's the most prevalent, but positivity is difficult.
- Though I understand that one must operate out of their own nature, it was a little aggravating that the author claimed to want to try new things--but only in her comfort zone. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
- Rubin quotes a lot of "contemporary research," but cites no sources for it. She gives suggestions for further reading, so I guess that's something.
- I nearly gagged when she said she sprinkles artificial sweetener on her salads. Eww!
One of the things I'm seeing from this book is that Gretchen has the problem that a lot of us have. We fear happiness and having fun because we're afraid the Fun Police are going to knock us over the head if we don't do this thing perfectly (supposedly like everyone else). For example, she feared starting her children's literature group or considering it fun because she didn't think it was "legitimate" enough. Granted, part of her hesitancy is a character issue to which she admits, however, I completely understand what she means. One of the things she has to remind herself of is that just because something is fun for someone else doesn't mean it's necessarily going to be fun for her, and vice versa. The shame holds true for me. Just because others find Zumba fun doesn't mean I do (I don't). Transversely, just because I find "heavy" reading fun doesn't mean others will. The point is, God made us all unique and our happiness triggers are also unique. There's nothing wrong with that.
I do believe I'll start a happiness project of my own. More on that later.