The Happiness Project

A few months ago, I started reading a book called The Happiness Project. I’m a sucker for books where people pursue some unrealistic idea for twelve months and write about it. It started with one of my favorite books- The Year of Living Biblically. It followed with The Geography of Bliss, 52 Loaves and Living Oprah. I could go on, but needless to say, these 12-month literary reflections are my guilty pleasure.

While I was in Nashville in February at a Baptist conference I came across The Happiness Project and I knew I had to read it. Some of it is goofy. Some of it cheesy. But the essence of this non-self help, even though it’s kind of a self-help book is to question: what is happiness? Why do we pursue it? What does it mean? Who attains it?

The author, Gretchen Rubin makes a list of twelve areas she will work on during the year, calling them…her happiness project. As she spent a month on each area she discovered places where she felt deep joy and places that were a little rough around the edges. Rubin created 12 personal commandments. Things like Be Gretchen and Enjoy the Process. Her reflections aren’t life altering. She doesn’t present a whole new world of possibilities. What this book did for me, however was help me structure a way for me to identify what I really do care about and how I will make sure I spend time in those places of my life. I am lucky. I spend a lot of time with people that I love. That comes with the job.

But for this introvert, I also need to spend time doing things that are life-giving to me and that involve not a lot of people. I needed to claim that for my personal health and well-being. As I reflected on what my happiness project might be, it didn’t mean adding things to my life. It did mean dusting off some areas and re-prioritizing some other things.

My writing is dusty. I used to write all the time. I was a journalism major in college and took the time allocated for writing for granted. In seminary, we were constantly writing something and that skill was kept intact. (Of course, writing as a journalist and writing an academic paper are completely different, but the act of choosing words and constructing sentences of meaning exist in both worlds). So, I decided (like Gretchen Rubin) that I needed to start a blog.

I’ve always admired blogs like this one and this one (and of course this one). I thought it was time to keep myself in the discipline of writing. Right about the time I was making this list, an opening came about to serve as a column editor on the Fidelia’s Sisters publication from the Young Clergy Women Project. I applied and met with this amazing group of women in Atlanta a few weeks ago. (that’s another post though!) I’ll have all kinds of opportunities to write, play with words and mull over the perfect adjective in the years to come with the column.

Here I am. I’m learning wordpress and thinking of story ideas. I have a whole host of other items on my Happiness Project list. I’m sure I’ll write about some in the days to come.

Oh, and if I was recommending, I would tell you to read my guilty pleasures in this order:

1. The Year of Living Biblically
2. The Geography of Bliss
3. 52 Loaves
4. The Happiness Project
5. Living Oprah
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