The Happiness Project, a Gretchen Rubin inspiration

I am writing this while cold, hungry, caught up in the vaguest beginnings of a headache, and superbly grumpy after suffering through administrivia all afternoon. Because, of course, taxes. THBBFT, to quote Bill the Cat. Blustering through the puzzles was the only rational option.

I don’t remember who taught me “administrivia,” but it is one of my most favoritest words ever. And by the way, when I start sounding six-years-old, watch out. SUPER GRUMPY. It is unlikely even hot chocolate will nudge me out of this funk.

Which brings me to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Another library fundraiser find, this book is subtitled “Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun.” First off, I think I need to make it clear that I did NOT read the subtitle until after I bought the book: I was NOT getting another organizing book for the collection. What drove the purchase, in fact, was the picture of row houses on the front cover, confirmed as NYC’s finest in Ms. Rubin’s back-cover bio. I can’t help it if the Force always guides me to organizing books.

Except this one isn’t an organizing book. Mostly. Yes, she starts with a good ol’-fashioned “Let Stuff Go and Put the Rest Away.” HURRAY!!! But then…

This post has taken me two iterations, because I’m an awful person who struggled with the concepts: what you see in green is current work (Sunday 2/17, Monday 2/18/2019).What you see in plain ‘ol black is my original, started in early January. Gretchen Rubin is going to be a keynote speaker at the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professional Society’s upcoming annual conference. She is an admired and respected thought leader. In The Happiness Project, she is having a conversation, deeply grounded in a glittering range of readings, with herself and a boggling number of engaged fellow adventurers, about dedicated efforts to create personal happiness. And that’s the splendor of her ideas – she is ardently concerned with individuals. Her concept – that we have an obligation to ourselves, and, equally compellingly, to our friends, communities and family, to each craft our happiness as exactly to our needs, strengths, preferences, weaknesses and realities as we possibly can – is superb, even if shaping the ambition is unnerving. She is exploring similar territory as Marla Cilley, Brene Brown, Cindy Glovinsky, Joseph Campbell and many many other compassionate and bold non-conformists.

I find her quirky, charming, humorous, inspiring, honest and provocative. And, at first reading, exasperating, pesky, maybe even synthetic – I consider myself mulishly skeptical, and I am very fond of evidence-based thinking. I was reacting to her as if she were trying to sell me my beloved Brooklyn Bridge. Until I truly understood how infinitely adaptable her “formula” is, and how deeply grounded in research, I took it as a get-happy-quick-scheme. But that may have been the heart of my reaction – intimidation at the thought of taking on her challenge, sensing that it’s not so easy. If you despise singing – don’t! But if you like a quick soft-shoe step or two… Her argument that incremental change can have magnified effects is convincing.

I’m trying. Plodding steps, but trying. Definitely singing more. I encourage everyone to take on your responsibility. 

About Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams, Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Virtual Professional Organizer®

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