Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Thoughts

Recently I finished reading Happier at Home, written by Gretchen Rubin.  This book is The Happiness Project.  Though there is something about the way these books come across that doesn't do it for me, there are some ideas that Gretchen shares that I like and can see incorporating into my family's life.

For instance, I love the idea for a holiday photo gallery.  To me, grouping photos from every Halloween/fall or Valentine's Day/winter and then displaying them at that time of year seems like a great way of using the photos we take and decorating for the seasons.

I also like her idea for Wednesday Adventures.  To capitalize on the stage her preteen daughter is in, the two of them would go to a new place together every Wednesday.  Since they live in New York City, there is a seemingly endless list of things for them to choose from, but sometimes their Wednesday Adventure would include something as simple as going out for ice cream or staying home to work on a Lego puzzle together.

I think the part that felt unsettling as I read the book is that though she doesn't mean to, since Gretchen is writing about herself and her efforts to be happier in all aspects of her life, there is a bit of a tendency for her to start sounding a little self-centered. And since she is upfront about the fact that her life is very good to begin with, at times I couldn't help but wonder if she was trying a little too hard to get the most out of every day and every moment.  I had to remind myself that everyone has a different personality and way of doing things but that there is usually still something to learn.

It wasn't until the end of the book that I finally realized what this project was all about: it was about Gretchen's attempts to be more intentional about her life- in her relationships, in her home-making, in scheduling her time, etc.  When I was able to put this revelation into words, I saw Gretchen's happiness project and efforts to be happier at home from a new vantage point.  It was as though I light went off in my head.

In my experience, I've found that when we focus on being more intentional, it is also a way of honing in on our values and naming our priorities.  I think this is important, because there are always so many things vying for our time and attention.  So much so, in fact, that if we're not intentional about how we fill and carry out our days, it's more like life happens to us in a passive sense rather than an active one.

And the more I thought about it, it does seem like the people who approach their lives with intentionality probably are more likely to experience a sense of gratitude and happiness, because being intentional helps you be mindful of your surroundings and blessings.

Though the way Gretchen held herself accountable and tracked her intentionality isn't a method I would choose myself, the important thing is that she did what was right for her and that I was intentional about doing what was right for me.  Which, as it turns out, relates to one of the personal commandments that guide Gretchen in both of her happiness projects: Be Gretchen (i.e. be true to yourself).

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