Sunday, December 4, 2011

happiness and its bad rap

just this morning i finished the happiness project. i stumbled onto this book from brene brown's website, ordinary courage, and initially was quite resistant to the concept. i have never really been thrilled with arguments about how people should pursue happiness; it never seemed noble or honorable to work towards this {spoken like a true first-child with a martyr complex}. 

despite my resistance to the book and the concept, intrigue won. i am glad it did. i find myself referencing this book at least five times a day in conversations with friends or family and i notice myself trying to incorporate little slivers of the author's happiness resolutions. 

each month of the year the author set an intention for her life and established 3-5 measurable resolutions to work towards that intention. it sounds a bit hokey, but for me it wasn't. as i read the book i felt like i was reading my own journal towards personal betterment, the hurdles to the author's happiness are so similar to the hurdles in my personality and life. 

at the end of the book she provides the following questions to inspire your own happiness project:

  • what makes you feel good? what activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
  • what makes you feel bad? what are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?
  • is there any way in which you don't feel right about your life? do you wish you could change your job, city, family situation, or other circumstances? are you living up to your expectations for yourself? does your life reflect your values?
  • do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth? in what elements of your life do you find progress, learning, challenge, improvement, and increased mastery?

ultimately my view on happiness {and its pursuit} have shifted through reading this book. what i once thought a selfish endeavor, i now see that cultivating happiness in my life is a result of my choices and that my happiness can greatly improve the lives of those around me. as someone who has always internally condemned the airlines' guidance to first put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, i am learning to see that by being happy i can help bring happiness into the lives of people around me. {and that's how i stealthily resolve my dissonance around personal happiness!}


on an unrelated note, the author included this excerpt from one of her blog readers and it fits me like a glove {and helps me see why my profession suits me so well}:
the way i bring people together is by connecting them via whatever may be of interest to them. i know i am gifted at connecting the dots and i use that skill in the relationships i build with others. i also have a tendency to collect and store what may seem like mundane information about people in my head. inevitably, i will run into someone who needs something, and because of the information i've collected i will have just the right person to introduce them to to help them achieve whatever they need. ironically, i am not a social butterfly at all, but i always seem to be able to connect people at the right time. 


Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Well here's something that should make you happy :)) HEIRLOOM TOMATO SEEDS!

I have some tomato seeds for you. The giveaway over on my blog. Plz email me with your address and I'll pop them in the mail to you. :))

Great post! I used to feel guilty about happiness. And, I was slapped pretty hard in a work performance review for 'giggling too often.' Which was one of the many reasons for my leaving corporate culture and striking out on my own...

Clair said...

I've been resisting this book, because I had read reviews that portrayed it as shallow or simplistic. But happiness is pretty simple, isn't it? And it's nice to have reminders of it. Maybe I will give it a try!