I have a friend who is all about the self-help books.  Of course, she also believes in reiki. I don’t know if she’s read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project but I know she’d love it. I’m a skeptic (a hopeful skeptic) and I really liked this book. Perhaps I read it at the perfect time in my life – lots of changes and upheaval and uncertainty, but hope, too. In less capable hands, The Happiness Project might have been a different book. (a la Eat, Pray, Love, a book I didn’t love.) Instead, Gretchen Rubin’s musings on what happiness means and how to achieve it comes across as less how-to manual and more why happiness should be pursued and valued.

Rubin’s personal happiness project was inspired by that moment (which will likely come to us all) when she realized she was “in danger of wasting [her] life.” Okay, truthfully, who hasn’t thought that a time or two? Of course, she knew all the ways her life was pretty damn perfect: great husband, wonderful kids, work she loved, terrific extended family, lived in NYC etc etc…Still.

What I liked the most about Rubin’s happiness journey was that she understood and even poked fun at her personal shortcomings: her need for praise and her short fuse. I also liked that her quest for happiness wasn’t all abstract and metaphysical. She understood the sinple joy of getting rid of junk and splurging once and a while on something you really needed or wanted.  Rubin herself seems incredibly down-to-earth…someone you’d like to sit and have a cup of tea with (I’d say a glass of wine, but she’s mostly given that up!)

 Threaded through the entire book was this notion that “the days are long, but the years are short.” It’s true, isn’t it? When she and her husband take a moment to watch their sleeping children, it is a moment of sheer happiness – if only because that moment will never come again.

 Happiness spreads. I know this is true. I know the power of a smile because I use it every day in the classroom….even when I don’t feel like smiling, it’s amazing how smiling at a surly kid makes them smile, too. I want to be happier. I deserve to be. And so I owe it to myself to make that happen.

If you’re looking for inspiration, for a way to make your life happier, The Happiness Project is a great place to start. You can visit Rubin’s website, The Happiness Project, for lots more info.