Getting to Happy, Part Two

by Becky on February 18, 2013 · 4 comments

in Books, Parenting

Tessa heel clicking on bridge_8768

I sometimes think of the word ‘happy’ as a noun: a thing I can grab and go with, like a colorful scarf or an e-reader(!) or the (absolutely) lovely Spanish olive oil I’m almost out of. My children often trigger my Happy–when they’re being imaginative, when they’re laughing hard, when they’re being kind to each other.  My teens inspire my Happy when they show maturity and generosity of spirit.

But the other ‘happy’ word, ‘Happiness’–the Capital-H kind–that’s a journey, for me, at least. So I thought I’d share a few favorites with you today and tomorrow–things that could trigger your Happy and also give you pause to think about your own road to Capital-H Happiness.

The first is the notion of a Happiness Project.  I heard Gretchen Rubin speak maybe ten months ago, and I found her really inspiring. Her story:  she wanted to get closer to Happiness but didn’t quite know how to go about it, so she started what she called The Happiness Project, which eventually turned into a book–The Happiness Project–which quickly became a New York Times bestseller and then an international bestseller.  I own the book and have loved it, particularly the way in which she takes you into the very personal machinery of her life, starting with her Twelve Personal Commandments. She actually made the study and the practice of Happiness a year-long pursuit, each month focusing on one aspect of what she considered an essential ingredient of Happiness.

I love her writing voice: she sounds like the best friend you didn’t know you had. Upbeat and positive without being cloying, she’s also never afraid to make herself the target of her own irony. Yet she never denigrates herself. Indeed, formulating a stronger sense of self quickly becomes part of her project and a key component of it. Each day in my inbox, I hear from her in the form of a passage from some brilliant or important or just gifted-ly happy person. A Tolstoy quote from a couple of weeks back read, “Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” Interesting, don’t you think? Her new book, Happier At Home, is on my “Read!” list. Check out the book trailer (which alone is inspiring!).

In a way, my blog has become a Happiness Project, allowing me to talk in highly specific ways about the culture of family and bringing culture into family, including a focus on my teens. Especially powerful for me is mapping our relationships, particularly as they intersect with travel, literature, music, and other forms of culture. This has helped me parent more consciously and generously. In short, it’s a daily trigger for my Happy as well as a daily marker along my road to Happiness.

Stay tuned for Getting to Happy, Part Three.

Jen February 19, 2013 at 2:44 am

The Happiness Project is one of my all time favorite books! I purchased the ebook last July and started posting on their blog. In August I purchaseed the journal – a daily one sentence reflection on the happiness in your life. As a busy working mom, I could do that – a one sentence journal. And, it is constructed so that you can reflect on each day for the next 5 years as you journal your entry. Recently Gretchen started the 21 day happiness relationship challenge and you can have the tips emailed to you. I too love her writing!

Becky February 19, 2013 at 4:46 am

Jen, don’t you love the idea of a happiness project?–which implies movement, action. I think I spent half my life expecting just to feel it, when in reality it sometimes takes focused effort, but with often dramatic results. And yeah, her writing is so ACCESSIBLE. Besos. XX

Karen L February 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Well, now I must add that to my “books to get” list!
I am totally intrigued with the happiness project idea. I think it’s amazing how much gratitude is tangled up with happiness. It is impossible to have one without the other. I’ve been meaning to grab a weekly calendar/planner and use the daily sections to record at LEAST one thing that made me happy/grateful that day. I love how you said in part 3 that it’s impossible to only list one thing once you start. I’m excited to get started documenting my “happy”

Becky February 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Karen, when you start documenting your Happy, be sure to write “Fabulous Haircut.” I love your hair! Some women look especially fetching with shorter hair. I think you’re one of them! XX

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