Thoreau went to the woods to suck the marrow out of life; here, I hope to drain every drop from the books I read, rather than tossing them aside and saying vaguely, “Oh yes, I read that once,” when they come up in conversation.
I’m a Christ-follower, a wife, a mother, a wannabe novelist (with a complete manuscript, no less!), and—of course—a reader. Stick around, poke around, speak up, and enjoy…and definitely recommend your favorites, because my mile-long to-be-read list could always be longer!
Happiness Project, Schmappiness Project
I was very intrigued by The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin’s year-long attempt to put more happiness into her life. She focuses on a different aspect of life each month (work, marriage, etc.), and at the beginning, I was really gleaning some things.
But as the book wore on, I found myself getting less and less out of it, sometimes growing impatient, and it hit me: as a Christian, I don’t need a happiness project. I have the greatest and only source of true joy there is, salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the sweetest gift, frames my every day, and gives meaning to my life’s work and leisure.
Once I realized that, I read the book more as a memoir of the author’s experience than as a book that would change my life or perspective. But there were a few things that I took away, month-by-month:
January: Vitality: I need to establish–and follow–a bedtime routine, in the same order, at the same time, every night. This momma needs more sleep!
February: Marriage: The Professor and I talked about this…our marriage is pretty awesome. He doesn’t let arguments fester when I would, so things always get resolved. It was interesting to see into the dynamics of another marriage, and exciting to realize that mine is rock-solid.
March: Work: Inspired me to be more daring in my writing, like trying to freelance and submitting my manuscript sooner rather than later.
April: Parenthood: This was probably the best thing I got out of the book: instead of just saying “no” to a child, acknowledge her feelings. Example: instead of saying, “Don’t touch the stove!” your child is more likely to listen and respond positively to “You want to touch the stove because Mommy does, but it’s very hot and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
May: Leisure: I could relate to the author hiding her love for kidlit: it’s not “adult” enough to be considered a valid reading choice. She changed that, and I plan to as well, just like C.S. Lewis:
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. –from “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”
June: Friendship: I had no notes.
July: Money: I had no notes.
August: Eternity: I didn’t even read it; I have that one covered.
September: Books: No notes, but I could relate to the novel-in-a-month experience that the author describes. I am now certain I will do NaNoWriMo again this year, and I already have an idea! The idea of making time for passions and taking notes while reading for no apparent reason also resonated with me.
October: Mindfulness: No notes. Blech.
November: Attitude: Ho hum.
December: Happiness Boot Camp: I think I’ll keep the author’s idea of a resolution chart (like Benjamin Franklin used) in mind when New Year’s rolls around again.
Overall, an interesting look into one woman’s life and pursuit of happiness, but I think the greatest truth I took away from the book is that I never needed it.