Thursday, March 25, 2010

book review: the happiness project

i had planned to post today about eating right (the second part of the "good health" resolution) today, but instead, i'm going to tell you about the book The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, which i just this minute finished reading.

when it comes to this book (and the associated blog and online toolkit), what's not to love? i mean, pretty much everyone could stand to be a little happier and the idea that we can take actionable steps to improve our happiness isn't a new one. but the systematic way the author chose to tackle it -- one topic per month for a year, complete with resolutions for and research to support each -- was completely inspired. and inspiring.

it was also reassuring to see that others a) felt the same way i did about wanting to build a happier, more fulfilling life and b) came to a number of the same conclusions i have (beginning with her first commandment "be gretchen" -- or in my case, layer).

while there are a number of commandments and resolutions i definitely plan to apply to my own life (her whole first chapter "boost energy" was already pretty much word-for-word the first items on my action plan), there was one thing that especially stood which i want to mention here.

secret of adulthood number eleven: you can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do. i especially love this because i have struggled with finding the balance between what i think i should enjoy and what i actually do enjoy. like collage. i love the idea of collage. but i find the act of collage too stressful. on the other hand, i absolutely love apocalypse fiction -- novels, movies, TV shows, you name it. by all accounts, reading or watching that kind of stuff should be a massive stress producer, but somehow the resonant themes of these stories -- banding together, overcoming unbelievable obstacles, surviving against all odds -- are extremely life-affirming for me. which leads to my first great truth: that which makes you happy makes you stronger, so embrace it with both arms.

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