Sometimes I am a little late to see a blockbuster movie or read a New York Times Bestseller. I hear the titles and think, “That sounds good, I’ll add that to my list.” This year I am reading a bestseller from 2009 by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. I have never taken a whole year to finish a book, but this time I am intentionally spreading this one out. The author takes on the idea of studying what makes a person happy and tackles twelve different approaches or themes in finding happiness in life. Back in December I picked this up and wanted to read one chapter each month just for kicks.
January was about boosting energy which fit perfectly with my New Years Resolutions to exercise and tidy up around the house. That is when I decluttered like a neat freak with the Mari Kondo method and the inspiring words in this book. I find her research-supported writing along with her personal experiences to be a balanced and motivating read. So in February I continued on with her chapter about love. It was timed with Valentines I’m sure, and I found it very applicable in my married life with children and puppies.
March rolled in with the theme of “work” and I was not drawn in at all. It is the last day of March and I finally got around to reading this chapter. I don’t work outside the home so I incorrectly assumed I would not relate to it. It is now my favorite chapter so far (out of three). I quickly learned that work refers to the broader sense of work, the idea of doing what I do or what I am working to accomplish in a day. For me that can be training the puppies, creating and maintaining a clean and healthy environment for my family, and so on. As a stay-at-home mom at my doctor’s appointment, the in-take nurse likes to smile cleverly as she states my occupation as “domestic engineer.” Whatever. I love what I do and do not need to retitle it. I am a stay-at-home mom of four children, two aussiedoodle puppies and a kitten. This chapter really intrigued me when it got to the part about this author starting a blog. NOW SHE GOT MY ATTENTION.
Her research revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. Trying something new and maybe a little out of one’s comfort zone is something I can totally relate to. I consider myself fairly brave and daring, trying new things: taking horseback riding lessons in Texas, joining a gourmet cooking club, starting a new mothers support group, taking adult tap dancing lessons, and even walking into a writing class without ever being anything close to an english major. I like novelty and challenge! It makes me giggle and say, “Why not me?” Two aussiedoodle puppies sounded crazy, “Why not us?” Some of my new ventures did not stick, like horseback riding because I am still too afraid of horses (even after my hours with old blind-in-one-eye Muffin). The gourmet club fizzled when I discovered the others in the club were not great chefs either and getting together to eat mediocre food with strangers was not fun.
The one scary step I took twelve years ago into a writing class in Connecticut did open up something inside of me. I realized I loved pouring out my feelings and my memories onto the page. The self-conscious voices in my head grew softer as I began to enjoy where my writing took me. People hear that I am in writing classes and ask me if I plan to write a book. I’d love to, but just as Gretchen Rubin points out in this chapter, it is important to “enjoy now.” She explains that happiness can be felt as we work toward our goals, also known as the “pre-goal positive attainment affect.” Sure, I would love to write a book someday. In the meantime, I am writing for my class, for this blog, and for my own eyes. I love this way of looking at my work.
Koda and Summer are still super rambunctious puppies who jump up all over people, there is work to be done there. My youngest son leaves for college in 70 days, we have things to do. My blog has not reached the goal I set of posting for one full year, I have three more months to send my thoughts out to the world wide web. As I learned this morning in reading a chapter from this 2009 bestseller about happiness, I am going to work hard and enjoy it. “Enjoy now” is my new mantra. Even if it is a concept that has been around for some time, as I stated earlier, I may be a little late on the uptake!