Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Happiness Project

My sister, Becky, called me yesterday, the one who won such strong accolades in yesterday's post, the one with the majestic advice for me in my time of crisis. Yesterday, however, her ideas filled me with a smidgen of childish perplexity.

She just finished reading the popular book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin.  She loved it and said she couldn't help but think of me the whole time she was reading it.  Apparently the author reminded her of me, of the way I think.

I'm going to paste the product description from the Amazon website here because I'm too lazy to try to summarize it myself.  (Besides which I haven't read the book yet! That would make it tricky to summarize!)

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference. 

Like I said, I haven't read the book, although I promised my sister I would.  My bet is that I will like Gretchen Rubin's "voice" and the way her mind works.  And from what I understand about the content, it sounds valid.
It's the premise I'm struggling with.  I don't want to live for, to pursue, happiness.  Which, you understand, is different from not wanting happiness, right?  I want to live to please God, to be a worthy servant.  And that will make me happy!

I hate to be such a wet blanket here.  I hate to feel like I'm over-spiritualizing, to be always pounding away at the spiritual, but somebody's got to say it!  I just can't swallow this, as much as I want to be excited about my sister's new enlightenment. I cannot wrap my mind around how or why any Christian would even buy a book like this.

Okay.  Now for some honesty.  I have been not happy in my days.  In fact, I have been not happy even recently, and I have, quite by accident, stumbled upon some of Gretchen's recommendations as a result.  They do work!  I am happier since I began my closet/cabinet/drawer purge at the beginning of the year.  I have a plan to methodically work my way through every nook and cranny of this topsy-turvy house, and it has made me immeasurably happier since I began! And I've been happier since I've been blogging more regularly.  It's a crazy, inexplicable happiness with no basis in rational thought.  

Yesterday I spent a little time with a friend, a time when we usually catch up on each other's weeks.  I found myself with absolutely nothing to tell her that was new.  But inside I felt like I had had such an amazingly colorful week, so full of riches and lovely nuggets -- how could it be that I had nothing to tell her? But the rich, lovely nuggets have been my opportunities to write here, and that's not much of a conversation starter.  The blog makes me happy, and apparently (per my sister) that fits into one of the happiness factors she describes in the book. 

And -- I think this is also something Gretchen mentions --  I do, I really do, want to run a 5k race again before I die.  I've been thinking I may as well get started on that this year.  And that will make me happy!

So, without reading the book, I unwittingly stumbled onto some of her ideas, and they have helped.  A lot!  So what's my problem with the book? 

Well, I feel a bit pouty about it because I had been nurturing the warm fuzzy notion that it was the Holy Spirit who, in love, had nudged me in these right directions, who had lifted me up out of the morass of my own self-centeredness and aimlessness, who saw and had compassion on the tangled quagmire of emotion that is me.  But in addition, I had been nursing a flicker of hope that there may have been a good purpose in some of these things other than my own happiness.

So the idea that without Him I could have stumbled onto these remedies through some self-help book is discomfiting.  It makes me pout.  And furrow my brow. These were my special treasures from the Lord, and now they've been made cheap, like from the bargain table outside a bookstore.

And THEEENNNN, my good sister says to me, "Hey! I think the reason you've been feeling better lately is the (homeopathic remedy) you took!" 

So, NooooOOOOOoooo, it couldn't be the Lord, it was a homeopathic remedy!  And whatever that remedy doesn't cure, please read my self-help book.  That will do the trick.

I was heading into full-grump mode at that point.  "I think I gotta go now," was all I said.  I made all the appropriate noises along the way (girl vomit, come to think of it -- see previous post), because this sister is as dear as life to me and I'd never want to burst her bubbles -- she's all about homeopathy these days.  But I really prefer to think of Jesus as the more direct source of all this goodness in my life.

Well, vent complete.  That's all I got for today.  Have a good night!

No comments:

Post a Comment