I'd like to start this by pointing out- it should never take you longer than a month to read anything. So a multi-month read is absolutely ridiculous and I'm mortified to admit my latest read took me forever to get through. Anyone that comes by my dressing room and has been by in the past couple months can tell you, this book has sat in there for far too long. But! I finished it. And since my incapacitating OCD about certain things disables me from posting when things are incomplete, I couldn't be happier I got through it. You should also know this week marked an anniversary of sorts of the most difficult/trying thing I've gone through in my young life so this, as well as a few posts to follow, will be ever so slightly on the mushy side. If mush offends, please feel free to bite me!
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin instantly caught my eye when I saw it in the aisle at Target. As I do from time to time, I was feeling a little blue that day for no good reason at all and I thought- "Maybe this will help!" When I sat down to start it, I loved it immediately. She had so much to say that I agreed with and I assumed that would mean I would zip right through this book. She starts the book talking about how her life is great. She has a husband and 2 beautiful young daughters and not much that she can complain about. Despite all that, she discusses feeling as though she could be living her life much happier than she already is. We all spend so much time complaining and focusing on the negative on a daily basis and she was no different. With all that in mind, she decided to spend an entire year (Yup! 12 months of dedication! If only I could commit that way) devoting each month to a different resolution that would make her, in theory, a happier person. From work, to relationships, to home life, little by little she worked at making herself a more pleasant and positive person. What a lovely concept! For the first couple chapters I kept telling myself "You need to do this!" I read about the importance of faking it till you feel it and how inevitably you will be happier if you've convinced yourself you are. About being yourself and accepting that just because you wish you enjoyed something doesn't change that if you're true to yourself, going to an opera will never be fun for you. About not letting the want to be perfect keep you from doing things you may truly enjoy. About sometimes, buying a little happiness within reason can be a good thing. I loved everything she had to say about this happiness project.
So what the hell happened? I could not for the life of me get through more than a few pages at a time. I went from saying "I know, right?!" to "Yeah, I know!" Which though seemingly similar at a glance are two completely different sentiments. While I still found what she had to say heartfelt and lovely, the things she was working so hard to remind herself to do day to day were things that I've been lucky enough to have in my daily life naturally. Yes, vomit, and all that mushy junk, but the fact remains- I lead a happy life. I just couldn't get myself engaged in these "I need to remember to laugh more and be positive" stories. I realize these are subjects I've touched upon in the past but you can never reiterate the power of "happy" too many times. Rubin explained in one of her months that the average child laughs more than 400 times a day- on the flip side of that, the average adult laughs only 17. She expressed that she rarely even got up to that number. How sad is that? I would not be surprised in the least, if I had a small gnome (go with me on this) following me around solely to keep track of my laughs, that I would rival any kids number. I laugh all day long. At myself, at my cats, at my person, at my coworkers, I spend all day laughing and smiling. I was JUST telling my person that I refuse not to smile in my passport picture because smile IS my neutral. The passport police can bite me along with all those mush nay sayers... love a good tangent. So- laughs! Even when I warn my coworkers that I'm having a bad day, I still manage to laugh at least a hundred times at work every day. I never stopped to think how lucky this made me. Apparently I am in the minority here. Any other life laughers find that number 17 scary and sad? I can't imagine staying at that number.
Another recurring subject Rubin battles through her year is how easy it is to go to the negative. She says it's so much easier to yell than to make a joke out of it. Though I try to stay conscientious of how lucky I am in my relationship, I definitely take this for granted. *Grab your vomit bags, and be grateful I gave fair warning* My person makes life so that it is always easy to sigh off the negative and keep on keeping on. I don't think either of us has ever gone on a rant where the other hasn't somehow managed to listen to the onslaught, however long it may take, and magically just make it better. I'm not saying solve every problem, I'm just saying alleviate the grossness of the bad situation. So under those circumstances, how could anyone stay negative. A smile and a joke are never far off from a rant session. Oh, to be young and in love!
I find it a little crazy that I can sit here today, typing about how naturally happy my life is when just a year ago I had the heart breaking and gut wrenching experience of admitting that I was plain and simply- not happy. The kind of not happy that no faking (though goodness knows I tried) could ever make better. By whatever means I got to this point, I am forever grateful. There's a zillion things to attribute the growth to, but most of all- it is because I've turned out to be one hell of a strong woman- much thanks to my incredible family and friends. I am proud of the person I am today and so content with the smile I wake up with every morning. So many blessings.
I should've loved reading about someone else wanting to be so happy! I didn't. Eh! Oh well! It's more the sort of book you can flip through to grab little tidbits now and then. I wish I'd known that when I started. I also wish I wasn't so OCD that I couldn't just let it go unfinished. I'm a little crazy sometimes.
Now on to re-read Eat Pray Love. I first read it a year ago now and I'm curious if my experience with the book will have changed just a year later...