My happiness project

Over the last few days, I’ve devoured most of Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I’m absolutely loving it and am almost tempted to re-read as soon as I’ve finished, this time with pen in hand so that I can highlight and annotate the text.  I’d read a few blog posts reviewing this book and now completely understand the dilemma they all expressed about what quotations to use, as so much of it is insightful and inspiring.  I’ll go with the passage that made me laugh out loud on the train on Tuesday night.  It doesn’t express the core tenets of the book as much as articulate a certain character trait that I share with the author and probably many other people: “I’m suspicious of buying things with very specific uses – suit bags, hand cream, hair conditioner, rain boots, Kleenex (why not just use toilet paper to blow your nose?).”

I laughted heartily at this because I thought I was possibly the only person in the world who can’t understand why anyone would buy a box of tissues when there is loo roll in existence.  However, the passage also made me reflect upon my own idiosyncracies, as whilst I object to tissues, I wouldn’t dream of not buying hand cream.  Idiosyncracies are at the heart of The Happiness Project, with Rubin highlighting in pretty much every chapter how important it is to figure out what specific things make you happy and be true to oneself.  What does it for one person may leave another cold.  Thinking about this has already made me happier, without really trying, as I’ve been more conscious about doing the things that make me tick.  For example, on the bus earlier, I actually moved seats from one where the window was dirty to one where I could easily see outside as I know that being able to watch the world go by whilst on public transport makes me happy. 

Rubin has inspired me to develop a happiness project of my own too and provides a guide on how to do so.  I feel such guidance is timely for me, illustrating the Buddhist adage “When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear” – oft quoted in the book.  Even before thinking seriously about this, though, I’ve been encouraged to try out some of the activities that Rubin herself undertook during her year-long experiment.  One of them in September was “master a new technology”.  I often feel like a dunce in this respect (I ended up emailing a friend the other day for advice about my new Twitter acount), so it seemed an apt challenge for me to take up.  My choice?  Figure out how to include hyperlinks in blog posts, so that people can just click on a word to go to the relevant webpage rather than having to insert the whole url.  Like tagging, which I have recently go to grips with, this is something that I’ve wondered about pretty much since I started blogging over two years ago.  And guess what?  It’s really easy.  I looked in Tumblr’s help section, read the explanation and then did it for the link to The Happiness Project book.  There, see!  Done it again!  I can now report that this mastering of a new technology has indeed made me feel very happy indeed.  Result.

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