I've been very fortunate to grow up in a rather large extended family which includes 25 first cousins (I know, crazy, right?). More than that, I've been fortunate enough to be very close to a good number of this 25. Some of my most favorite childhood, teenaged and 20-something memories include the Klevze and DiGaetano ladies. Even though the idea of recreating a family that big for myself is...daunting?...to say the least, I can't imagine growing up any other way. So thanks, good Catholic grandparents, for having so many kids to provide me with my awesome cousins :)
That being said, I've always considered my cousin Jessica to be a good friend of mine. Yet over the past few years I've felt even more appreciative of her presence in my life. I thoroughly enjoy her company and love how well we connect...it has truly been a pleasure to watch her grow into the fabulous woman she is today. Being the sweet houseguest she is, when she and her boyfriend crashed at my apartment during their SF vacation they left behind 2 books for me to enjoy as a thank-you; Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Best seller Women Food and God knocked my socks off. After I reread it in the near future (I hate how when I love a book I sometimes plow through it too quickly to remember parts) I will certainly be posting a blog on it. The Happiness Project also landed itself on the best seller list and the author continues to keep a blog here; Happiness Project.
I'm just gonna lay this out there; I don't love Gretchen Rubin's writing. To be frank, in the beginning stages of reading her book I thought if I met her in person...and I actually feel sort of bad saying this...she would bore/annoy me. I admitted this recently to my friend Sara (I was feeling a tad pretentious and guilty) and was relieved to hear that she too couldn't click with Rubin. Phew, thanks Sar. Luckily for Ms. Rubin, my teeny opinion makes no difference to the monies she earned publishing her work :) Her background as a lawyer and historical/biography writer is kind of a red flag for our personality differences. With the exception of my great lawyer friends (love you guys!) the whole logical/factual/type-A vs. emotional/theoretical/type-B thing has just never made a great mix for me personally.
I knew within the first few pages of her book that I didn't feel connected to her emotionally like I did, say, Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, but recognized that if cousin Jess liked it there must be something of value within. So I decided to approach her book in a way more fitting for a "Gretchen" type; I kept a notebook with me at all times while reading and took diligent notes. I treated it almost as a fun research project and whaddya know...it worked! I was able to walk away with a number of interesting insights and theories on "happiness". I was able to appreciate her logical/factual/type-A self. And I was able to enjoy many of her discoveries on life, love and learning.
So I've dug out my notebook for this post and am now *happy* to share a selection of my personal favorite highlights of/tidbits from The Happiness Project. Please note that many pieces are summarized and others are under my own personal interpretation, therefore don't necessarily reflect exactly what the author was getting at. You'll just have to read it yourself to form your own opinions :)
Hug for at least 6 seconds.
-Length needed to feel the endorphins and benefits! I love this. I've been forcing my friends to hug me for 6 seconds ever since. Much to their discomfort :)
"Feel right"; live the life that's right for you in an atmosphere of growth.
- I liked this because when you think about it, living a "good" life really is different than living a life you feel is "right". Lots of things can make me feel good. But only the right things and the right path for me personally can make me feel truly happy.
Love someone just as they are.
You can't change anyone but yourself.
There is only love.
let's just repeat that one...
There is only love.
The days are long, but the years are short. Stay in the moment.
Reframe a task; be joyous to do it.
- Essentially here she talks about things that normally would seem like a nag and a drag to do; i.e. cleaning a room. Changing a mindset going into these tasks can often affect how they make you feel.
Eek out the most happiness from a situation; anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.
- For example, say I'm going to Portland with a friend. First, we find fun and joy from planing and plotting and researching for the trip. Then we be as present as possible while we are there; enjoying the sights, taking photos, etc. We express our gratitude and happiness to one another while in Portland (i.e. "this cafe is just so cute!" or "I'm so happy it's sunny for our walk downtown!"). And finally we recall the trip through photos and stories and memories for years to come.
Each member of a family picks up and reflects everyone else's emotions-but of course I can change no one's actions but my own.
In a relationship, give proofs of love.
"Remember to leave a little mess...it's good to have a bit of chaos someplace..."
Work on understanding happiness *now*; like saving money, stock up on happiness before a crash.
"Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one's entire life in happiness, the greatest joy by far is the possession of friendship." -Epicurus.
People's lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside; cut people slack.
"Spontaneous Trait Transfernce": What I say about other people sticks to me.
"It's a relationship, not a deposition." - Dan Savage
"Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent; not an object."- Herman Hesse
"...Ordinary life, too, is full of opportunities for worthy, if inconspicuous, virtue."
A small child typically laughs upwards of 400 times a day. An adult? Less than 17.
- This blew my mind. Fellow "adults"- we need to get our giggle back on.
"Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness." -Tolstoy
It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.
It takes at least 5 good acts to repair the damage of one critical or destructive act.
In a relationship, show gratitude and don't expect praise.
Do things for *you*.
"I had to build my happiness on the foundation of my character; I had to acknowledge what really made me happy, not what I wished made me happy."
If any of these little tidbits appeal to you, then I highly recommend reading the whole book as she goes into much greater detail, research and explanation.
Cheers to the start of a great week!
In Gratitude (and Happiness!),