The last few days I’ve taken a vacation from blogging, also from paying bills, practicing the ukulele, and reading my almost-overdue library books. I’ve taken a break from other things, too. The vacation was a natural response to reading the first half of The Happiness Project. If you’re thinking that the point of this book was to inspire readers to slow down, take it easy, and enjoy life more, you’d be wrong.
The book is about author Gretchen Rubin’s wish to become happier — she was happy to begin with, but feared she was missing out on even more happiness — through self-improvement. Each chapter focused on one set of activities Rubin worked to accomplish during a month — starting in January — having decided that becoming a happier self meant becoming a better self. She then added additional activities for each subsequent month, until she completed twelve months of a cumulative improvement package.
So far in my reading– January through July — I have experienced her efforts to “toss, restore, organize; exercise better; act more energetic; quit nagging; not expect praise or appreciation; fight right; give proofs of love; launch a blog; ask for help; enjoy the fun of failure; sing in the morning; be a treasure house of happy memories; take time for projects.” Other challenges she set for herself were to be silly; start a collection, which for her turned out to be a small bluebird collection; remember friends’ and relatives’ birthdays; avoid gossiping; make new friends; splurging in some small way; buying things she really could use; and giving up something. and that’s not all. In August, should I have the energy to spend any more time on Rubin’s happiness, her focus will be on spiritual development.
At this point in my reading, Rubin says she’s happier. I, on the other hand, am exhausted. She has taken my playbook and added about five hundred new plays. I can’t imagine how shouldering that kind of pressure for perfection would make anyone feel better. However, I find that the book is making me happier because the pressure is not on me, it’s all on the author. I’m feeling more content with my imperfect self, knowing how stressed I’d be trying to carry out a happiness project like this one.