John & I heard Gretchen Rubin at an author’s event in Philadelphia, an unknown writer presenting her just-published self-help book. Maybe we went because she was speaking at The Bellevue, a hotel with special memories for the two of us, or maybe because we both have happy memories of the evening’s sponsor, Joseph Fox Books, that predate US.
Whatever the reason, it’s the only time we’ve driven into Philadelphia to hear any author talk about a book, much less an author & book we’d never heard about. It turned out to be an evening that shifted my life, in three ways.
First was the fact that I did NOT blow off Gretchen’s talk once I realized she is a Type A, make-a-success-of-whatever-she-sets-her-mind-to person who probably looked around for a good topic to write about & lit on how to nurture happiness – NY Times best seller written all over it. (It is.) Instead of thinking, “She is SO not me,” I listened.
Second, 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 turned out to be a life-shifting read & totally deserves to be a best seller. Gretchen has a winning writing style (naturally), talks about things that truly matter to me (well researched), makes suggestions to which everyone can relate (okay, I was beginning to thaw). The book is personable, a balance of memoir & personal growth.
Where I like this book, Mom would have LOVED it, would have gone through each chapter each year, noticing the changes in her life since her last read. And she would have urged all of her compadres & compatriots to read it, too. She probably would have written Gretchen a thank you note & the two of them would have connected & struck up a correspondence. Then, Gretchen would have suggested that Mom write a version of the book for older people, taking it from a more sedentary but no less important point of view. Which would be how my mother would have ended up on the NY Times Best Seller List! Alas, she died eight years before the book came out. If only…
In spite of no one yet writing an elder version of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, it is one I heartily recommend for all ages. Gretchen, who has gone on to become America’s Happiness Guru, makes me feel lighter just reading her book. I know it would have been kept close by Mom’s side for reading on days she felt blue & needed a shot of uplift & empowerment.
The book is laid out in two ways – by calendar year & by topic – so you can read straight through, Jan-Dec, or picking your area of happiness (Boost Energy, Be Serious About Play). I worked through it, month by month, while my guess is Mom would have opted for happiness target.
Can you tell that I connect this book & Mom? Reading Brene Brown makes me think a lot about Mom, but reading & rereading Gretchen’s book brings her presence close around me. I can think of no better recommendation for a book, because the thing that got my mother through a difficult, often heart-breaking life, was her deep awesome inspiring capacity for happiness.
THE HAPPINESS PROJECT is a book to be read & kept close by. You might not read anything earth-shaking, but it just might be life-shifting. Was for me!
What was the third way Gretchen’s book changed my life? Long, freakin’ amazing story, which you’ll find here.