“The Happiness Project”

by kattiewampus

After yesterday’s post, I didn’t know what to write about today. It seemed trivial to go back to writing about the “little things” although I still maintain that they have their place of importance in how we view life.

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So, I’ve been reading this awesome book by Gretchen Rubin called “The Happiness Project.” My college roommate gave it to me for my birthday last year and I recently started reading it. I love the author’s writing style – she’s funny, engaging, and insightful. While there is an element of pop psychology to it that should be taken with a grain of salt, it is nevertheless a very entertaining and thought-provoking read.

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Stealing some reading time in my car before class this morning

The author writes very practically and candidly about the areas that she worked on in an effort to improve her happiness. A lot of it seems like simple common sense, but the way she presents it causes me as the reader to respond in a “Yeah, I should be doing that!” way (as opposed to a “Well, duh” way).

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“In fact, when introverts push themselves to act more outgoing, they usually enjoy it and find it cheering. Connecting with other people lifts people’s moods.”

One aspect of this book that has really impacted me is the way that Gretchen applies her findings to her relationships. She is examining the concept of improving one’s own happiness as a way of bringing happiness into the lives of those around us. It is a similar concept to the idea that you need to make sure your own needs are being met if you are going to effectively meet the needs of other people.

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“I also wanted to conquer my own particular bosom enemy: snapping.”

Something I have really appreciated about this book (in a kind of painful way) is the way that Gretchen repeatedly slaps me in the face by identifying areas where I struggle and that impede my happiness. Her wise words about nagging, snapping, fighting right, and giving proofs of love were not only helpful to me, but also convicting. I am terribly guilty of nagging, snapping, and not fighting right (my go-to methods in conflict are the silent treatment and snapping unexpectedly over things that aren’t that big of a deal. For the record, I do not recommend either of these methods, unless you are trying drive someone out of your life. And even then, there are classier, more effective ways to go about that). It was a sobering reminder to me of an area in my own life that needs a lot of growth: handling conflicts and learning not to pick fights over things that just aren’t worth it.

IMG_0190“Over time, however, spouses start to take each other for granted. Jamie is my fate. He’s my soul mate. He pervades my whole existence. So, of course, I often ignore him.”

That sentence, as well as the ensuing paragraph, hit me right between the eyes. It’s hilariously tongue-in-cheek, but it also gets right to the heart of one of my deepest relational issues: taking the people that are most important to me for granted.

For the sake of context, I will say this much: at the beginning of April, my boyfriend broke up with me. It was very unexpected and definitely not what I wanted. In the weeks that followed, the futility of my efforts to rescue the relationship were almost as devastating as the break-up itself. Hence April being the Month of Excruciating Sucky-ness, hence this post. The only reason I’m even talking about this is to explain that going through a trauma such as an unexpected break-up can be productive in terms of forcing you to closely examine the areas of your life where you need to grow.

Suddenly, everything I’m reading about relationships is now relevant to me, particularly in terms of how to have a healthy relationship, or to improve one’s relationship. I am soaking up everything I can find, trying to internalize it so that I will, hopefully, someday be able to apply it. Under the circumstances, I have a sort of ravenous receptivity to this information right now – maybe it’s a coping mechanism. At any rate, the paragraph pictured above was tremendously insightful for me, albeit in a “I wish I’d read this sooner” sort of way.

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I love the in-between moments where I can just sit in my car, take a few breaths, and read a few pages.

I’m not really sure what is my purpose for including the above picture, other than to document that it was a nice day and I sat in my car with the windows rolled down, drinking an iced latte and reading about how to be a happier person. All of that to say, go read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an easy read and it will definitely be worth your time.

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