I read a book this week that put me on the path to my own happiness project. While I have always been a happy person, I sometimes allow anxiety to hide the sunshine. This past year has been a tough one for anyone who reads a newspaper, and I find myself fretting over things that I have no ability to change.
In her book, The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, Gretchen Rubin shares her quest to find as much happiness as possible in her life. She realized that she is surrounded by things that make her happy, yet sometimes she doesn't appreciate how happy she is. I know that my father often reminisces about the years that we were growing up as the happiest years of his life, yet I clearly remember the angst he went through at times during those years. His concern over things he could not change often overshadowed those things that made his life so wonderful.
I agree with Gretchen Rubin...I want to savor every minute of my happiness as it occurs. I made my list of what makes me happy (Arthur and my wonderful family, my exceptional former students who share their lives with me...my friends, old and new...our beautiful new house and neighborhood, nature walks, sunny days, good books, the view from our bedroom, this blog and my readers, etc, etc, etc) and I made my list of what makes me unhappy (my anxiety, bigotry and hatred in the world, and lack of control to name a few). I realized that while much of my "unhappy" list was out of my control, I could spend a great deal more time cultivating my "happy" list.
So many people allow their unhappiness to control them. They can't get past the little things, and so they miss those precious moments that surround us all. Who cares if it is raining, if we have someone we love stuck in with us? Why worry about that broken bike, when the child who was riding it was able to walk away without a mark? I surely see the frustration in everyday life, but I have decided to concentrate on the list that brings me happiness. I will spend more time with the people I love, take more walks, have more parties in the house I love, and of course I will read more books.
The other book that I am reviewing this week is The One-Eyed Judge by Michael Ponsor. Although the story, which involves a judge overseeing a child pornography case, is a heavy one, Ponsor's style of writing is light and keeps the reader interested throughout. Seeing a legal case through the eyes of the judge is a bit different, and I definitely recommend The One-Eyed Judge for your summer reading list.
As always, complete reviews of these books follow this blog.