March seems to have been a month very much focused on the topic of happiness for me, with a post on ways to be happy and an update on how I’m finding using my happiness planner.It could be because the days are getting longer, Easter has been (a.k.a eating chocolate for breakfast, judgement free) and there are flowers everywhere I look…or it could be something to do with the fact that this month I’ve been reading a book all about being happy.
Now I have to be honest here, it’s taken me longer than a month to read ‘The Happiness Project’, I’ve been dipping in and out for probably about three months. I think part of the reason for this is that there is ALOT of content and methods for improving happiness that at times I found a little overwhelming. The book details Gretchen’s attempts to focus on a new theme each month to increase overall happiness. So for example, January was focusing on Boosting Energy, February was on Remembering Love and March was on Aiming Higher.
Gretchen Rubin does a brilliant job of putting across all the methods she’s tried to increase her happiness and is the first to admit when something doesn’t work for her. This is a big relief really because at times I found myself feeling a bit stressed that someone could fit so much into their time. For example, the author talks about writing a whole novel by writing 1,667 words everyday, making time for reading and also finding the time to self-publish books – all in September alone, which Gretchen Rubin noted as one of the ‘most pleasant and easiest‘ months :0 (I do wonder, however, if my increased stress level at hearing this, is because I’m due to hand in a thesis in 11 months. I’m a bit worried that I’m not using my time as successfully as I could!)
Overall, I think this is a great book for someone looking for ideas to improve their happiness, as it is clear that the suggestions in the book are based on solid research. The main thing that I will take away from this book is to pursue things that make me happy personally. Rubin is very inspiring in her approach to ‘Be Gretchen’, where she accepted that things that make other people happy (like going to the cinema) might not make her happy – and that’s ok! Here were some of my other favourite resolutions that Gretchen Rubin tried during her happiness project that I am trying to bring into my life:
- Tackle a nagging task – there is a lot of happiness to be had in finally getting round to those annoying tasks that I’m sure all of us are guilty of always putting off. For me, my nagging tasks have involved changing my name on important documents after getting married. It feels good to get it done!
- Enjoy the fun of failure – I love this resolution, because sometimes the fear of something going wrong will stop me from trying at all! But this book taught me that part of being ambitious is to fail sometimes!
- Find more fun – Gretchen Rubin encourages us to really think about what it is that we personally find fun. This will undoubtedly vary from person to person. One tip from the book is to think about what you found fun when you were ten years old, there is a good chance that you will still find it fun! I took this advice and went swimming for the first time in years (I used to be in a local swimming club when I was 10) and it was great to get back in the pool and to do something a bit different!
Do you do anything specific to make or keep you happy? Do you have any recommendations for resolutions? Leave a comment below or tweet me @makingitmindful – I’d really love to hear from you!