I recently read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I like it so much that I’m considering buying a copy for all of the people I love the most and encouraging them to read it. (Merry Christmas, friends!)
Rubin’s Happiness Project wasn’t at all what I expected. I had expected the story to be much more like the book/movie Julie & Julia, but this tale of self-discovery was much more methodical.
For one year, Rubin focused on living a happier life. She took such an interesting, tactical approach, that you can now model your own happiness project off of her lists, scoring system, and guides. You’ll have to visit her website or buy the book to get all the details… it’s somewhat involved.
But, I am going to tell you the number one take-away for me.
One of her Secrets of Adulthood is to Be Gretchen. It simply means to be true to herself, her likes, her dislikes, and her needs.
She says something that I’ve said a hundred time, ‘I like the idea of…‘ For example, she talks bout how she likes the idea of exploring New York City and hitting a jazz club on Saturday night, but when she really looks down deep inside of her, she realizes that she’d rather be at home reading a book on the weekend. Or, she was always a little secretive about her love of children’s literature. But, once she embraced this truth about herself, she ended up starting a book club devoted to kid lit and now shares her passion with other enthusiasts.
I can’t think of any other way to truly become happy than to allow yourself to be yourself.
For me, an example is gardening. I’m convinced I enjoy gardening. But I don’t. Gardening = waiting for a snake to attack me. Why do I bother? I like the idea of gardening. I wish I had a beautiful, bountiful garden. But the truth is, I never leave my deck (there might be snakes in the grass) and potted plants are just as pretty.
And music. I’m in a weird place with music right now. I dislike most pop music (but I love some. Or, I love Ke$ha). And I’m not cool enough to know what’s going on in the underground scene (do they still call it that?). To be honest, I’ve actually changed the radio station when I pull up to the Starbucks drive-thru because I don’t want the barista to think I’m lame ’cause occasionally I listen to Christmas music in months other than December (and by occasionally I mean at least once a month). I’ve always felt this strange pressure to like only ‘cool’ or ‘good’ music but I honestly can’t tell you what that is (except RCPM). The result: Half the time I don’t even know what I like! And I suspect, if I just got over the idea of listening to only ‘cool’ music, I’d be much happier when I’m singing Jingle Bells in July.
For some of you, it probably has never occurred to you to change yourself or not do what you truly enjoy. I applaud you. Not me. I am guilty of modifying myself, especially in front of other people, to fit into the mold of a person I think I should be. The ideal version of me. Some mythical Stacey with a green thumb who attends only the coolest concerts.
So going forward, I’m gong to give myself little reminders to Be Stacey. Not some ideal me, just actual me. We’ll see what happens.