Those of you who know me know that I am always reading something. Hell, I bring books with me to the gym to read in the 5-10 minutes of wait time before group exercise classes start! I guess that’s why I’m a literature major… Right now I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an interesting attempt at a year-long self-improvement saga — a sort of domestic Eat, Pray, Love, if you will. Rubin is even a self-proclaimed planner who loves “charts… and compulsive note-taking.” Sounds like my cup of tea!
Except I am struggling through every page. What is it that turns me off of this book so much? She has very fascinating points and many tips to take home from reading the book, yet I just can’t seem to get fully into it.
I believe I’ve put my finger on it. I’m in the “July” chapter of the book, so I can only speak for January-July, but in this first half of the memoir, Rubin seems to be learning to become more efficient. She strives for efficiency in her housekeeping, her work, her parenting skills… even in her friendships and her marriage. If this is what brings her true happiness, then I commend her and I am very glad she embarked on her mission. I worry, however. I worry when she states that “happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.” That sounds to me like she is still shoving herself into a role. The entire book is strewn with the phrase “studies show that…” Sometimes she skirts away from this so-called “expert advice,” but many times she follows through with it, even if it seems to go against her very nature.
As I read this book, I see it more as a “satisfaction project” than a “happiness project.” Little that occurs in this book (at least January-July… I have yet to finish, so I have yet to make a full judgement) brings the author real joy… and isn’t that something to strive for? Shouldn’t the point of happiness be to feel the utter elation that comes with living true to our passions? But perhaps I am placing my own assumptions and beliefs upon her journey – which is not okay. I only write this out for my readers to offer a different perspective… to suggest that searching for efficiency and satisfaction is not the only road to happiness.
Have any of my readers read this book (or her wildly popular Happiness Project blog)? I would love to hear what you thought of it. Perhaps you agree with me, or perhaps you can point out a perspective I missed!
And how do you define happiness? Satisfaction and efficiency or joy and passion? Share in the comments below – discuss!