Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

I'm reading a new book, The Happiness Project. On the whole, I find it a little cliched, a little too specific to the author, and lacking in a cohesive narrative or storyline. But woven in there are some great truths and really helpful insights, so I've been reading it with a pen beside me, underlining phrases that strike a chord, and remind me what to focus on.
The idea of the book is that it follows the author through a year of trying out different tactics for advancing her personal happiness. I'm all for that. Who doesn't want to feel more happy in their life?
I think the lesson I'm feeling resonate in my thoughts is the idea of finding what I like. What I truly enjoy. Now what I "should" find enjoyable, like say, scrapbooking, but what I actually enjoy. It's kind of challenging to think of a list of activities that make me happy and then really look at them to see if I really do enjoy them or if I do them out of some sense of duty.
Take baking bread. I think it makes me happy. But am I doing it out of some desire to fit an archetype of a housewife, to be frugal, or to be healthy? I decided that nope, the whole process makes me very happy. I like watching the yeast grow (and sometimes I excitedly ask Rich to "check it out!" and he thinks I'm super lame). I like the smell. I like slicing into a fresh baked piece of home baked whole wheat flax bread. Mmm.
I also have come to realize there are things that make me happy generally, but in the moment of doing them, I might not be happy. And that's OK.
Take writing a news article. Sometimes cold calling sources makes me nervous, and I don't like that feeling. Sometimes I feel wholly dissatisfied with the way I've described something, but become frustrated when I can think of no better way to express it. But the activity of writing news, with all its ups and downs, is immensely satisfying and enjoyable to me.
Raising Abby is an easy example. Sometimes it is not enjoyable at all, like when I'm trying to keep the eggs from burning on the stove, and she's painting her stuffed cat and then the dog knocks over a plant but I can't swear because Abby is influential, and then she asks to help me and reaches up to the stove and I yell out of frustration not to touch it and she cries. That's not fun. But the general scope of raising my daughter is utterly blissful and gives me unending fields of happiness to forever run through.
So what makes me happy these days?
Staying home by choice, going on Starbucks dates, reading in the sun, baking bread, doing yoga, taking a bath, listening to jazz (especially live), walking the dog, doing anything in the water, movie dates with friends, playing board games with Rich, meal planning, organizing just about anything, making lists, seeing my parents' love for Abby, petting Goober, planning trips, sipping chai, wearing wool socks, and getting a spa facial.


  1. Go ahead and swear. Then I won't be the only parent with a kid who knows where to drop the f-bomb in a sentence! hehehe

    Good luck in your pursuit of happiness!

  2. Awesome post! I'm in a similar space of contemplating what truly makes me happy. Sometimes, that can be scary stuff!

    Also: where are you getting live jazz? You've got to come to Jazz in the Hall on April 7th!!!


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