My Very Own Happiness Project

Have you ever read a book that changed your life?

This one changed mine. And I don’t mean in an esoteric, it-made-me-feel-good-for-a-little-while kind of way. I mean it changed the way I function on a daily basis.

Author Gretchen Rubin starts The Happiness Project with this commentary that got my attention right away:

I’d always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations.

One day, I’d stop twisting my hair, and wearing running shoes all the time, and eating exactly the same food every day. I’d remember my friends’ birthdays, I’d learn Photoshop, I wouldn’t let my daughter watch TV during breakfast. I’d read Shakespeare. I’d spend more time laughing and having fun, I’d be more polite, I’d visit museums more often, I would’t be scared to drive.

One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I started out the rain-spattered window of a city bus, I saw that the years were slipping by. ‘What do I want from life, anyway?’ I asked myself. ‘Well…I want to be happy.’ But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier.

She goes on to say:

The words of the writer Colette had haunted me for years: What a wonderful ife I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner!

Count me in. I, too, live a beautiful, blessed life, and I am terrified to let one single moment pass in which I am not making the absolute most of all God has given me. Gretchen was speaking to me.

I learned so much in the year I spent with The Happiness Project, it’s difficult to decide what to highlight here. But I’ll start with the 12 Commandments I wrote for myself, following her lead. (The commandments with an * came directly from The Happiness Project. They are so powerful I simply had to adopt them. An immeasurable thanks to you, Gretchen Rubin.)

Cathy’s 12 Commandments

  1. Be me.*
  2. Identify the problem.*
  3. Do it now.*
  4. Give proofs of love.*
  5. Go ahead and use it.
  6. Find a way.
  7. Be present.
  8. Make it fun.
  9. Live generously.
  10. Do something new.
  11. Give thanks.
  12. Make room.

There is much to say about each commandment and how it has made my life (and those of my family and co-workers, no doubt!) happier, more peaceful, richer. Perhaps I will make these among my next posts. But for now, let me just encourage you to get Gretchen’s book. I can’t guarantee it will change your life the way it has mine. But I can promise it will bring a clarity to the daily and the extra special that will make it all more significant.

And isn’t that what we’re really after?

ps: The audiobook is also really good, delivered in Gretchen’s own voice. I confess I listen to it over and over, usually while I’m doing my chores.

9 thoughts on “My Very Own Happiness Project

  1. Cathy –

    I read your post this morning. You seem to know when and how to nudge me. I have reserved this book at RCPL. Thank you for reminding me what is important.

    JoAnn

  2. Cathy,
    I have this book, but haven’t read it yet. What excites me about this post is that I’ve already identified some of the commandments for myself without reading the book! Surely that means I’m already on my way!

    Make it fun has been a big one for me this year. The trends in education have made teaching very stifling and repressive. When I feel this, I say well let’s just have some fun! It works every time.

    This year has been rough for me, yet when I stop focusing on what’s wrong and the many blessings I’ve been given, I feel so much better. I realize “this too shall pass.”

    1. You will love it! It shifted my perspective in a thousand little ways. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Please let me know! (And if you read something that gives you a nudge along the way, let me know that, too. I can remember specific sentences that rocked my world—in a good way!

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