Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy? Now?

Day 144: What I Read TodayLast year at Blogher I saw Gretchen Rubin moderate an inspiring panel with Brene Brown, Mr. Lady, and Gluten Free Girl. If you don't know Rubin she wrote a book about her year long Happiness Project. The project was something that my gut instantly called "NOT FOR ME!" while my brain just held on to the idea and held on to it and held on to it some more.

Back in Brooklyn I wandered my local bookstore and found where they kept copies of the book. I didn't even read the blurbs on the back. I might have ruffled the pages briefly as though they were hair on a particularly sweet toddler. I certainly didn't buy it!

At Christmas I bought and gave one copy of the book on the strength of having seen the intriguing session at Blogher. I thought, well, it's not me and it's not really this giftee either but what if she reads it and it works?

At April's World Book Night party I found myself at loose ends behind the champagne table. That table was right in front of where they keep The Happiness Project. I picked up the lone shelved copy and held it for comfort. I didn't have to buy it, I told myself, I could decide later. With that armor in hand I went out and mingled and met a couple of people and had a fine time. When it came time to leave I was too embarrassed to re-shelve the book and too grateful for the party to leave without buying anything so it came home with me.

The book has hopped around my apartment from pillar to post for two months now. Last weekend I took it to New Hampshire with me just in case I finished my previous book before I got home. I didn't. And I bought two new books at my favorite indie bookstore up there.

When it came time to pick my next book to read, though, I didn't read any of those books. I didn't download anything from the library. I cautiously fingered open the cover of The Happiness Project and started in. I'm about two-thirds of the way through now. If you asked and made me answer I'd probably still say it isn't exactly my thing.

Except I can't stop thinking about it.

Untitled I don't have an urge to do a year-long happiness project for myself with lists and charts and assignments and accountability. I do find myself keeping mental lists and charts based on Gretchen's project, though. Could I be more enthusiastic about a task? Am I giving someone the benefit of the doubt? What would happen if I just smiled instead? When can I make time to clean out my fucking closets?! The more I ask these questions and the more I claim that a happiness project just isn't my cup of tea the more I hear the words in the book when she says all the same things, when she jumps - with varying degrees of success - all the same hurdles.

What I'm saying here is, even though I haven't finished the book yet, I want to recommend it to you. I know it's not your kind of thing. It's not mine either. Totally not. Except for the part where I'm absorbing the teachings into my daily life slowly but surely. Ribin has an interesting support website as well. My favorite part is the Tips and Quizzes section. I've read the "Want To Know Yourself Better" questionnaire probably 4 times now while remaining too afraid of my own answers to write them down.

2012 has been particularly difficult for a lot of people I know. It's been a bit of a slog for me, too. With fear behind me and dread ahead I'm having a tough time living in and enjoying the moment. My now is being tainted. We've got a lot of tough political machinations grinding away that seems to pelt the eyes (and heart) like hail, too. It's hard to stay positive. It's harder to see the good in the people around us. We're constantly being told that now is the time to fight for our little corner of our world. Some might say this is no time at all to concentrate on happiness.

Others might say this is the best time.


  1. Emily4:53 PM

    We love that bookstore also. Always try to stop there when we are in town.

  2. I've had the same kinds of feelings about that book. Now you make me want to read it, or at least dip my toe in ...

  3. finding joy in the moment...if not now...when? this year has proven there are no guarantees. but that in itself motivates me to be here. live and love now. loud. fast. furious. probably overboard, and a little reckless.
    but I don't care.

  4. i haven't given that book much thought before, but now i'm intrigued...

  5. Misti's comment made my eyes well with tears. Exactly what I was going to say. When I talk to others about my life with Chris, I instantly smile. Those 14 years were great fucking years. We found joy in the moment. To stop that now would just be horribly disrespectful to that memory.