It's that time of month again! This month's theme was "healthy living". So far, I'm enjoying each of the monthly themes as it's really been stretching my reading boundaries. This theme was so general, but so difficult to find! I knew I didn't want to read a book about healthy eating habits or exercising because frankly that just sounds about as fun as doing taxes, so I decided to be a little loose with my interpretation of what healthy living is and opted for something that would improve my mental health!
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin tells the story of one woman's journey to self-actualizing her own happiness. In the book, Rubin realizes that although she is very privileged to have a good husband, healthy kids and a career that she loves, yet she still doesn't feel wholly satisfied. Rather than take the stance that something is missing in her life, Rubin hypothesizes that what's actually lacking is her full appreciation of her own life, and so she begins a year long journey to happiness.
As a whole, I found this book to be entirely engrossing and inspiring. Rubin isn't a perfect person by any means and that makes her perfectly relatable. By her own description, she is short-tempered, impatient, and lacking in motivation. She is however, fantastic at research and so she brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that she uses to arm herself with easy techniques to keep herself on track.
There are tons of good tips and anecdotes in this book that I took to heart. One such epiphany came when I read how Rubin realized that her frustrations at how her husband wasn't supportive enough of her, was not that he wasn't, but rather that she realized she was getting upset at him for things that realistically she couldn't expect him to be good at or, or even willing to do, just for something that would only bring herself happiness and not the both of them. It's kind of that, do you want to bust through a mountain, or just go around it, kind of mentality. By forcing your partner to do something that, really when you get down to it, is just about you and your desires, it is only going to make the both of you frustrated and resentful. In Rubin's case, she resented her husband for not helping her write Christmas letters, but when she realized that really it was only her that gained satisfaction and benefit from doing them, she decided to let it go and just resign herself to doing them all. In the end, she was happier and got it done faster!
In my own life, I've used this lesson to stop resenting Mr. Artist for not helping with the wedding. While to me, it is critically important to compare orchids to roses and pink vs. mauve, to Mr. Artist, anything is good and it would be torture to think about it for more than a second. He wouldn't gain any satisfaction either way from choosing, so I acknowledged that this and many other decisions were really all about me and my happiness, so now I just make all the decisions myself. In the end, I too am happier and get things done faster!
What was also great about this book, was just to realize that you can never be more than what you are. One of Rubin's great mantras was that she had to "just be Gretchen." You can never the best at everything, or the best person out there, but you can be the best you. It sounds all airy-fairy, but it really is quite true when you ponder it a bit. You have to embrace your weaknesses and your strengths and figure out how to make the best of it. In the end, by just acknowledging herself, those habits that she didn't like so much were easier to suppress.
After I finished reading this book, I felt all gung-ho so I started my own Happiness Project! Not sure I want to document it on here as Rubin did as it's so personal, but maybe at the end I'll report back on whether it's changed my life or not. Until then, I certainly recommend you check this book out!
You can purchase your own copy of The Happiness Project via Amazon.
Catch up on my previous reads:
- January ("motivation")
- February ("love")
- March ("biography of someone you've been wanting to learn more about")
And don't forget to join me for next month's theme: hobby
In other news, I'm heading out to Hawaii for the weekend! I'm making the trip with my wedding planner to check out our venue and to meet with various vendors. Argh, all this eating is definitely taking me further from my wedding day ideal body, but it's got to be done! Life is tough sometimes ;)