January 15, 2014

THE HAPPINESS PROJECT: Readalong with Joy's Book Blog: Part 2

The Happiness Project Readalong is hosted by Joy's Book Blog.  You can read my thoughts on Part 1 of the book here.
cover of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

My Thoughts as I Read The Happiness Project

I didn't have too many thoughts about April, which dealt a lot with parenting issues, of which I have none since I am decidedly and happily child-less.  I did enjoy May and June's chapters, though, and had a lot of thoughts to share.  Some very personal stuff, too, but I feel comfortable sharing because I haven't gone into too much detail and besides it is kind of cathartic to talk about it sometimes.

May Be Serious About Play

This chapter has been life-changing for me.  I will explain why.

At 20 years old, I became a chronic pain sufferer.  By 25, my health became worse with an auto-immune disease.  Now I am 34 and I have half a dozen chronic illnesses and pain syndromes.  I had to quit teaching young children, which I loved and I miss every single day.  I had to quit snow skiing and long hikes, give up the idea of ever running a marathon, and resign myself to a life much different than the one I had envisioned for myself when I was a young adult.  Reading this chapter I realized not only chronic pain patients go through these periods of traumatic realization that in a world full of possibilities there will be some things- a lot of things- we will never get to do.  I will never cure cancer (or my own conditions).  I will never be an astronaut or a veterinarian or a nurse.  I will probably not get to travel to every country I want to visit.  But it’s okay because this is not just my experience, it is not just because of my shortcomings, this is a universal human experience.  I’m not missing out on as much as I think I am.

Rubin goes on and on about collecting.  I definitely do not want to collect anything.  Besides maybe books.  Maybe even pretty versions of my favorite books.  But that's about as far as I'm going.  

June Make Time for Friends
I am generous to a fault sometimes and I used to be so generous and nice that I got run over like a road.  In recent years I have been able to keep my nice nature in check and balances.  I’ve been taken advantage of emotionally and sexually and verbally in my past and I vowed never to let anyone do that again.  For a while this vow to myself became a banner I waved whenever I felt I was giving too much.  Now I have learned how to give without sacrificing myself and how to take without getting selfish.  These are the thoughts that crossed my mind while Rubin discussed Being Generous.  I volunteer my time with the local Jaycees, but I don’t overcommit.  I help my boyfriend by letting him vent, but I draw the line and don’t offer advice unless asked.  I help my sister pick out and try on maternity clothes but I let her and her husband make the decision on the crib, even though I definitely have an opinion as a childhood development expert.  I am learning balance and I think that makes me even more generous.  Why?  Because I am able to give more at different times instead of all of me all at once and then burn out and get resentful.  That’s no way to live and that’s no fun for anyone else around me either.  By pacing my generosity I get to give a lot more, but I also get a lot more in return because I don’t feel put out because I tried to do too much.

One of my resolutions this year is to keep in touch with long-distance friends.  I need to call or e-mail each of them once a month, at least the ones I am super close with.  I am now going to make sure I call my friend Lauren in Richmond at least once a month and check on her.  I am going to make sure I chat online with Mandy and Tasha and Tif and Bryan about things other than blogging so I’m not all like “When did THAT happen?” all the time.  My sister in L.A. is already doing a good job of keeping in touch by sending weekly e-mail updates about what is happening with the baby it’s growing eyelids, the sex organs are definitive, the baby is kicking so much that I look like Sigourney Weaver in Alien- you know, the usual. 

I dumped a lot of toxic friends the last couple of years and while I am lonelier than I was, it is a definite improvement in my psyche.  I had one friend who was a lot like me and made me laugh hysterically and we’d both say random stuff at the exact same time, but I realized she was always trying to get me to ruin my relationship with John because she didn’t want me to be happy unless I was happy in the way SHE wanted me to be happy.  There was another one whom I had been friends with four years who up and decided one day that she was going to no longer talk to me because my health problems made her mad because I couldn’t hang out all the time.  And a third friend who I call an “energy vampire” because there was always, always, always drama and she always dragged me into the midst of it or I had to listen to her complain about all of the drama that she herself created and it exhausted my every fiber of being.  Who needs enemies with friends like that?  So I said enough is enough and I got out.  I have less people to hang out with but I am also happier and healthier now without these negative influences on my life.  I suggest that if you have toxic people in your life to just dump their negative vibes from your life.  You will be all the better for it.

As much as I am getting out of this book, I am looking forward to reading the second half of it.  

There is a Twitter-chat about The Happiness Project tonight at 9pm EST too that I am hoping to make.


  1. Yes! Oh, so much good in this post. I especially like the sentiment that we're able to give more at different times (me, I just have to be patient.)

    I'm naturally a collector, or try to be, but if you think pretty editions of your favorite books might be a fit definitely check out the $20 leather-bound editions of classics (and not so classics) from Barnes and Noble.

    1. The black ones? I have The Complete Works of Shakespeare and The Complete Works of Poe! But that would be a good collection to keep going with!

  2. It can be so hard to accept that life is going to be different than we thought it would be or could be. Every time I've hit one of the big birthdays, I've tried to become more mindful of the passing of time, which also means adjusting down my sense of my own life's possibilities. Reading The Happiness Project is my attempt to become more focused and use my time more wisely.

    1. I like that idea. I am also trying to really savor each day. Time flies by so quickly anymore!

  3. I love your insight that you are more generous by stepping back, and pacing it out, to create more balance in your life. I can make that work in my life!

    I'm glad you could join us last night!

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Thanks, Joy! It seems backwards but it works! I enjoyed the chat and hope to make it next week, as well!

  4. Oops. Commented but it didn't post. Here's what I wrote, I think. I loved what you said here: "I am learning balance and I think that makes me even more generous. Why? Because I am able to give more at different times instead of all of me all at once and then burn out and get resentful." This is close to what I wrote about, too; I'd had a "bad day" yesterday and was blaming myself and feeling resentful. Yeah, burned out. Whether I agree with Gretchen or not (and I don't on some things), she's given me lots to think about.

    1. That is so true, she does give me so much to consider! We all have bad days. Maybe just so we cherish when we don't have one! lol I hope you can get to a place where you no longer feel burnt out. I've been there and it can take so much out of you! :)


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