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My Happiness Inspiration!

on April 20, 2012

My desire to be organized has always been there.  I love color coding and always think something could be better organized than it already is.  But, for a while I lacked focus.  I would try and tackle projects that were too big or find myself reverting back to bad habits over time.  I’ve always said that cleaning helps me feel zen, it shakes me out of a bad mood, and I feel more in control of my life.  I feel happier.  To me cleaning also means organizing, putting things in their proper place, and being able to find things exactly where and when I need them.  Keeping up on everything though was starting to get hard.  I felt drained, lethargic, and unmotivated quite often—what I needed was a mental kick in the pants.

Luckily, I stumbled upon The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at my local public library.  I spent $1 to get the express copy located near the check out desk, and I am so glad I did.  What intrigued me the most about the idea of this book is really one of the things that keeps drawing me back to Gretchen’s writings, videos, and blog.  She is a fairly typical woman who wanted to increase her happiness in her everyday life without making major life changes.  You may have heard about how Walden went to the woods or how a trip to Tuscany or India changed a woman’s life, but Gretchen said there was no way she could do that.  She had a family and a job and a home.  Just like many of us.  She was happy in her life, but she felt she wasn’t enjoying her happiness.  She could really be happier.  I felt the same way.  I was happy in my life, but I knew that I was not really appreciating what I had.  Most of the time I felt like life was flying by, and I wasn’t taking the time to enjoy it.

I fell in love with this book pretty quickly.  I breezed through the public library copy and knew I had to pick up my own so that on my second read I could take notes in the margins (something I rarely do, but the format lends itself so easily to note taking).  Readers are introduced to Gretchen’s thought process and goals for the project in the beginning, and then the chapters are broken down into areas Gretchen wanted to address in her life—one for each month of the year.  In the paperback copy, she provides a guide on how to start your own happiness project.

Certain chapters of the book resonate with me more than others, but I definitely felt like each one could easily apply to my life.  I love that the first chapter (January) starts with Boost Energy.  It is truly hard to start anything new, to keep order in your life, or to enjoy experiences when you are exhausted.  I know firsthand, because I struggle with getting enough sleep every day.  There never seem to be enough hours to get everything done.  The chapters on marriage, parenthood, and friendship were also great reminders of how I want to be with the people in my life and how we can get more out of those relationships.  One of my favorite messages throughout the book was how we as individuals can increase our happiness by shifting our personal perspectives.  You cannot expect your happiness to increase by changing other people—you can only alter your own behavior and attitude.  Also, accept who you are.  Do not try and make yourself like things you don’t really like—instead celebrate and embrace the things that interest you.  When you do things that you like…you are happier!

My favorite message from Gretchen, though, is “The days are long, but the years are short.”  So many times we rush through life or are focused too much on what needs done or on future events, that we forget to be in the moment.  This is so powerful for me, because most days I do feel rushed or so focused on what will happen that I forget to enjoy the moment—even if it is something I have been looking forward to for a long time.  I don’t want to wake up one day and realize my daughter is an adult and feel like I missed her childhood.  Or, go on a fabulous vacation with my husband and not be actively in the moment.  John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  By embracing ideas presented in the book, I hope to avoid falling into this trap.

While I haven’t set up my own personal happiness project specifically and I don’t chart my progress like Gretchen, I do find myself thinking about her words on regular basis as reminders of how I want to be.  Someday I hope to set up my own goals/project in writing, and I think I will have a better idea of that when I finish my second read of the book.  Hopefully, I have that done before her next book, Happier at Home, comes out this September.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  Gretchen’s journey has really inspired me to look at my own life and how I live it day to day.  It is part of the reason I am focused on organization in my life and why I started this blog.  Thank you Gretchen Rubin for being brave and sharing your story with us.  It has definitely made a significant impact on my life.  I have a long way to go, but I appreciate you being one of my guides.

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One response to “My Happiness Inspiration!

  1. […] more about a shift of mind.  I found that many of the items Stafford wrote about also pop up in Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book.  And, both books spoke to me in similar ways.  Here are my top ten takeaways from Hands Free […]

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