The first book I read on my iPad mini was the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
I really enjoyed it I have to say.
In case you aren't familiar, it is a chronicle of a year long quest of the author to be happier. She was not depressed or unhappy at the start of the project but she felt that she could be and should be happier. She sets out with a series of resolutions that she divides between the 12 months of the year and focuses on changing the way she lives, thinks and relates to others. She focuses on small things like tackling nagging tasks, decluttering, acting the way she wanted to feel, and difficult changes to how she related to the people around her. I cannot name all of her resolutions but each one was designed to make her happier, which she discovered in turn made the others around her happier. In the last month she tries to put everything together and focus on what she has learned. She shares insight not only from her project but from the commenters on her blog during her project.
I enjoyed the book a lot. I did find myself intrigued by the changes she made and certainly could understand how she felt when she started the project. I sympathized with the fact that she wasn't even unhappy but she just knew that she could be a happier person if she adjusted how she lived and functioned in the world. I loved the idea of embracing small tasks to make yourself happier (being more creative, etc.) or just taking better care of yourself (sleeping more) then embracing larger changes to how you function in relationships.
I did find that I did not entirely relate to her in some ways because I think I am a naturally happier person that she is but a lot of the techniques she tried to embrace I found that I already did, which was really interesting. I discovered I had somehow developed tactics to help me be happier although I did not consciously make the decision to do those things.
She also spoke a lot about how she, as a critical person, often took away from other people's happiness and that really struck a cord with me not only because there are people in all our lives like that but also that I can myself be very critical. I'm a lawyer it comes with the territory. I also really took something away from her discussion of how it is harder to be happy than it is to be critical and negative and how negativity and being critical really make you an unpleasant person to be around. I really think that's true. Being negative is easy. Finding joy is hard. I have always said that happiness is a decision. It's a deliberate set of choices at how you choose to live, think and relate.
The book really inspired me to intentionally take time to enjoy the things I love doing. To stop being caught up in the cycle of my daily life and to take time to intentionally enjoy myself by embracing the things I love and the people I love.
I found myself highlighting large portions of the book so I could revisit later but I wanted to share the quote I valued most in the book.
"The days are long but the years are short."
Oh I just love it. I want to paint it on a wall in my house, tape it to my bathroom mirror and plaster it on my desk at work. More than anything I think happiness comes from being in the moment focusing on the things that matter instead of the minutiae that tend to swallow up our lives.
I really am not inspired to do my own year long project but I do want to embrace some of her ideas on how to increase my happiness. I'm mulling it over right now but with new years right around the corner I am thinking I will make some happiness resolutions of my own.