While riding the train one day, Gretchen Rubin came to a realization about her life. She wasn’t happy, or at least not as happy as she thought that she could be. Sure, overall she had a pretty good life, but surely there were things she could do to make it better. Gretchen’s solution to this problem was to start a happiness project. She decided to dedicate each month of the year to one set of practices that would make her life happier, trying to keep up with all of the practices in December to see if it would make her uber-happy. Rubin’s resolutions fell into categories like marriage (remember love), parenthood (lighten up), books (pursue a passion), and more.
Following a bunch of rules may not sound like the best way to become happy, and perhaps it wouldn’t be for everyone, but it certainly worked for Gretchen. I think the key was that all of her rules – and the fact she had a handy dandy chart to see whether or not she had followed them – made her more mindful of what she was doing, and helped her strive to make her life better. I certainly find the idea of a happiness project appealing, not because I’m unhappy, but because I think that most of us could do things to make ourselves even happier than we are. I don’t think now is a good time for me to try something like this, what with us moving – Gretchen was purposefully doing her project at a relatively calm time, somewhat in preparation for more chaotic times in the nebulous future – but I could see myself doing it at some point. Honestly, even just reading the book positively effected my happiness during the week I was reading it. If not for Gretchen’s own attempts to lighten up as a parent and be a treasure trove of happy memories, I might have gotten annoyed at Daniel and simply cleaned everything up when he made a big mess, instead I have this video that we will treasure for years to come:
If you think you could be happier, I think that “The Happiness Project” could be a great tool to help you get there. If nothing else, you will be inspired by Gretchen’s story enough to change in little ways, perhaps without even realizing it, and definitely without feeling like you’ve just read a self-help book.