Many of you know that I identify as a happy person. I jump at chances to thank my parents for giving me a wonderful childhood, for taking me in after I graduated with a Master’s degree and no job, for continuing to supply me with support and love (both financially and emotionally) as I started to embark on the journey of REAL adulthood.
I wasn’t one of those kids who said “Well I’m an adult now, so blah blah blah.” I once told my dad to drop me off a block away from school on the first day at my preppy high school, but he quickly shut that shit down. When I was 18 and home from college during a break, I asked to “throw a party” and when my mom and dad said “sure!” I then tried to push the boundaries and responded “with alcohol?” and again, they shut that shit down.
They gave me the right amount of rules with the right dose of common sense. They let me fail, they let me succeed, and most of all, they made sure that I learned to think on my own. To go out on a limb and try new things. They showed me how to be happy with what life hands you and how to work with it when it’s not quite what you expected. They taught me to love learning and to love a good challenge.
And they taught me to enjoy reading. To this day, a go-to gift for my mom or dad (pending room on their HUGE bookshelf they co-opted from my sister) is a good book. Because of this, I have read SO. Many. Books. (Well, I’ve started reading more than I’ve finished) (and okay, I’ve listened to many more than that–audiobooks are my newest obsession)… (But I digress).
Reading has allowed me to experience other people’s definitions of happiness. It has allowed me to question the possessions in my life… the people in my life… the values I assign to things in my life.
It led me to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. (A hard copy, might I add!)
Why did I pick it up? I wasn’t sad or depressed or lacking happiness in my life. But it called to me. Its happy blue cover with a bluebird flying called to me. I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover. But it was the idea of the book that got me most: that happiness is a project. It’s something you aspire towards and something on which you have to work day in and day out.
I believe we all have a certain amount of innate happiness. Some people are naturally irritable, some naturally entertained (e.g., me) and find joy in small things.
What I wanted from reading this book was to be able to actually recognize all of the things in my life that are good and all of the things that are keeping me from being truly happy. Like I said, I identify as a happy person, but that doesn’t mean that I am happy all of the time. I struggle with anxiety, both social and personal (more generalized), and I live my days in a haze of side effects of ADHD. (Side note: I recently started an ADHD med and I have to say that I can actually finish things by deadlines! And stay focused! It’s GREAT. Why didn’t I cry in a doctor’s office sooner?!?!)
Basically the book has reminded me that you have to fight right. You have to try new things. You have to have an empty shelf. I still don’t, because I just put wedding related mason jars on it… but prior to that moment IT WAS AMAZING (and dusty).
If you haven’t read the book yet, go do it. Pick it up. Listen to it. Get the Happiness Journal that goes along with it. I do week-long journaling episodes where I write down all of the good for one week then get distracted again… so if I ever finish my Journal, it will be hysterical: part angsty teen, part melodramatic grad student, part struggling young adult. It’s an entertaining mix.
Anywho. Sometimes I just feel the need to get these types of literary feelings out. And sometimes I think someone else might benefit from hearing about a “happy” person who still struggles with actually being happy. So there it is.
I’ve begun my own Happiness Project of sorts and might post about it. But for now, I’m going to return to cleaning my apartment… and chasing happiness.
One mess at a time…