A picture of a dull day with raindrops on a window pane is the sort of image that may be construed as misleading with a post title such as ‘The Happiness Project’…but if you stick around, allow me to explain the reasoning behind this grey and underwhelming choice.
Depending on my mood, the usual me might feel irritated by this kind of weather, allowing it to throw me into a funk I’d probably take too personally to try and bother to come out of. I took this picture on my lunch break on Monday afternoon, at a coffee shop close to my office. The place was so busy (although this is not at all surprising, it’s tiny) that I had to sit facing the window, which was only a few inches from my face. I couldn’t help notice the raindrops cascading down and I really enjoyed it. Ok, so I recently returned from gorgeous sunny weather in the south of Spain but that never even factored into my thoughts.
I clasped my mug and I felt cozy and warm, watching each raindrop fall, Neil Young’s Heart of Gold was coming from the speakers overhead and my thoughts had slowed down. I was fully present. Although I try to do this regularly, I honestly forget for the better part of the day, but after reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, I find that frequent thoughts of the book keep my new way of thinking of things fresh in my mind!
Before I continue and there is any confusion, I’m in no way depressed! The Happiness Project isn’t aimed at people with depression or any kind of serious mental health issues and the subject isn’t taken lightly, Rubin does emphasise this. This book is more about how people could be happier, by appreciating the people, events and even things in their lives a bit more. As Rubin repeats in the book many times, ‘the days are long, but the years are short‘. We should be happy now before time passes us by, as this is the only time we have.
I didn’t find this book to be a self-help book or anything like that, if anything, I found it suggestional. In summary, The Happiness Project is Gretchen’s journey on how she set out to achieve a happier life, documented over the course of twelve months. She achieved this by setting clear and personal monthly resolutions. It’s an incredibly enjoyable read, whether you plan on taking anything from it or not.
I took my time reading some pages more than others, as some content prompted me to mull a little over things and Rubin’s friendly tone opens your mind to explore new topics without being twee. I think I enjoyed this book so much because of her honesty – she really does struggle sometimes with implementing her new resolutions, sometimes even a couple of days after starting them but her strength is admirable as she finds it easier to identify her behaviour and keeps working on bettering herself. A lot of her reactions to things I can see in myself, although I admire her because she has a family (both children are very young!) and lives in New York city.
The pacing of the book is perfect too. Just when I started to think I was over-analysing happiness and by doing so I might miss the entire point, Gretchen steps in at right time with her similar experiences, and BOOM, you’re right back on track. The book can easily be read in a matter of days or overtime, if you really want to savour it. Taking breaks isn’t really an issue as you can learn something wherever you jump in. Rubin also includes tips at the end for your own Happiness Project and refers to her blog a lot throughout the book, where there are comments from people all over the world who have their own ways to contribute to being happier, through their own thoughts or advice.
I would actually really enjoy (and think people would greatly benefit) if this book was turned into a movie. I even have the characters for Gretchen’s family in my head (a little weird, maybe?) that’s how well I felt I knew them.
My sole issue with the book was a small one, literally. The text is tiny. This doesn’t bother me as I have great eyesight, but when I tried to give the book to my Mam she took one look at the text and was put off. If your sight is bad, an ebook would be a better choice.
If you’re interested in The Happiness Project, I bought my copy here, and delivery is free!
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