Do you ever start reading a book and get that feeling? That feeling that says “oh, I’m going to like this one” before you’re even a chapter into it? Well I hardcore got that feeling with The Happiness Project. One of my co-workers recommended it to me when I was raving about Year of Yes and I’m so glad I said yes to reading it.
See what I did there? Yup. I got jokes!
Seriously though, The Happiness Project is definitely up there as one of my favorite books of the year. As a brief summary, while Gretchen isn’t necessarily unhappy in her life, she does feel like she could be happier. In effort to be happier, she dedicates an entire year to pursuing happiness. She focuses on a different aspect of her life each month and creates four or five resolutions that she’ll implement in that month to be happier. Along the way, she learns a lot of lessons, gains a greater understanding of herself and maybe a little bit surprisingly, actually feels happier.
The book is chock full of great quotes, lots of fantastic statistics about happiness and how it’s measured and quite a few moments that I felt I could apply to my life right now. I would so highly recommend this to everyone.
Men and women approach intimacy differently.
The gist of this is as follows: women value full on face-to-face interaction and conversation, but men are happy sitting near someone, even if they aren’t doing the same thing.
Oh holy cramoly there should have been a big flashing neon sign with my name and an arrow pointing to this paragraph. This could be my husband and I almost exactly and it’s something I couldn’t quite put my finger on until reading Gretchen’s book. It sparked a conversation between A and I where we really discussed quality vs. quantity when it comes to time together (more on this later, especially how it relates to us as a military couple) and what that means to us. It was such a good honest conversation that really strengthened our relationship because we understood each other more!
I bet that this applies to so many other couples and hope that if you take nothing else away from my post today, you remember these few sentences.
One minute rule.
As part of her resolutions, Gretchen vows to do anything that will only take a minute, even if it’s a task she doesn’t want to do. Think making the bed or putting your dishes in the dishwasher before leaving for the day. Sounds silly, right? Well actually, no. By investing the time immediately (all one minute of it), you’re saving yourself time and grumpiness later. Instead of having to do a bunch of dishes before I can make dinner (and then do more dishes), I do a little bit in the morning and boom! An empty sink come dinner time.
There are so many parts of life that would benefit from this rule! Send that email that you’ve been putting off for 4 hours and the anxiety about writing it is gone. Purchase that card for your mom’s birthday and you no longer have to beat yourself up at the end of the day for not getting it AGAIN. I am already applying this to my life and have noticed a difference in my attitude towards certain tasks.
“There are times in the lives of most of when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed us over unappreciated and unenjoyed.” -William Edward Hartpole Lecky.
William Edward Hartpole Lecky may have a funky name, but he has so nailed so many people with this statement. This quote sums up a lot of the inspiration for my goals in 2016, specifically the one that says “be more present”. It’s an awful feeling to wish wholeheartedly that it was yesterday when you know full well that you didn’t appreciate yesterday. I’ve worked on being more vocal about appreciating the present and have really been surprised at how often my mood is immediately lifted just by saying what a fun day I had.
As Gretchen worked to identify her resolutions, she kept coming across some fairly broad principles that she felt would guide her as she began implementing her happiness project. She decided to call them her 12 Commandments and they helped ensure that she didn’t stray too far from the true purpose of pursuing happiness.
I love this idea so much it’s almost painful! You may not apply them specifically to a happiness project, but I think writing down your commandments/life rules/main principles would be hugely beneficial to anyone! Writing them down helps ingrain them in your mind and then you can apply them daily.
It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.
I think the biggest takeaway for me was that it’s not easy to be happy; you have to work at it! While I suppose I knew that in a very abstract way, it was a bit sobering to read it in black and white. Yet, Gretchen kept coming back to how easy it was to be unhappy or negative, proving that happiness isn’t necessarily something you ever achieve. It’s something you constantly work toward.
Have you read The Happiness Project? Did you like it? What was your biggest takeaway?
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