Posed by my mother, this question was in response to my latest reading material: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I picked up the novel on my way through Chicago, coming home from NYC this past weekend. Adorned with a bright yellow sticker boasting the #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER label, I thought to myself well it looks interesting. Rubin’s subtitle here: “Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.” All of these things seemed to at least have the potential to tickle my fancy so I enthusiastically swiped my credit card at the Hudson News store and headed to B 11 in anticipation of boarding my red-bellied jet.
Organized by calendar months, “The Happiness Project” chronicles one woman’s journey of purposefully attempting to increase her personal happiness. I was momentarily seized by uncertainty while reading the Getting Started section, in which she explicitly distances her happiness project from other more radical varieties such as that of Henry David Thoreau or Elizabeth Gilbert. As anyone who knows me at all is well aware, Elizabeth Gilbert is a woman whom I admire passionately and have learned a lot from by reading her honest novels. But I soon realized that while yes, I do strongly identify with Elizabeth Gilbert’s move to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of inner peace and adventure, there is also much wisdom to glean from Gretchen Rubin’s tales of her less dramatic quest to, as she says “change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.” Now that is a universally applicable idea worth working towards.
One particular excerpt I’d like to highlight here is this: “Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens. I wanted to be one of those people.” I am only in February and have already found this book to be enriching, engaging, and relatable. Cheers to seeing the glass half-full, always!