Book Corner 2022.33

by Gretchen Rubin

A sequel to THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. Gretchen Rubin once again undertakes methodical, highly planned projects, or ‘resolutions’, to increase her levels of happiness. It’s hard for me not to relate to Gretchen, even though she does have kids. She’s a redhead. She twirls her hair. “Whenever possible,” she reads while she eats. She “dislike[s] talking on the phone.” There’s all that damn methodicalness. But maybe best of all, she flat-out refuses to try meditation.

She states up front that this is going to be HER happiness project; what works for her won’t work for everyone, but there’s still value in documenting her own personal journey, which can be a template or jumping-off point for readers whose mileage varies. OK, but she still gets way too deep in the weeds occasionally. I totally skipped the email exchanges with her sister about some collaboration they were going to do – I think it was a young adult mystery book? Why do I need to read all their emails about it? Suffice to say that collaboration was a source of happiness. And this weird project of building a little diorama in their kitchen cupboard also needed editing.

I like how she handles the most common criticisms leveled at her.

  • “You really must meditate if you’re going to say anything about happiness.” Response: “Hmm.”
  • Paraphrasing here: But you can’t aim directly at happiness; you have to simply do things that will cultivate happiness as a side effect. Response: How is that different than aiming directly at it? What concrete things are you doing to cultivate happiness as a side effect? How are they different than things you’d do to try to be happy directly? This is a really good point, once you start to think about it.
  • And paraphrasing here: ugh, all those tasks you set for yourself! All those resolutions! Sounds so tiring! Happiness doesn’t come from being busy. Busyness is a distraction. Response: Works for me!

Her ultimate mantra, after all, is to be herself. Which isn’t a bad mantra. I wonder if she’s considered meditating on it.

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