Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happiness and the World Cup (er, Series)

So I'm reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, a popular book, website, blog, soon-to-be TV series and breakfast cereal prize (okay, I lied about the last one) that apparently everyone from Alaska to Zimbabwe knows about.

Except for me, that is. So much to read, so little time, and I've never been into that help-me-help-you type of stuff anyway. If you're the second person who has never heard of this book, here's the plot lifted from the inside dust jacket:

"Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon....the days are long, but the years are short...time is passing and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter. In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project...test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier."

The Happiness Project was a gift from my caring friend Deb, who might have been sharing a subtle concern about my current level of happiness. She knows how difficult this year has been as I mourned the sudden death of my mother (14 months later, I still choke up just writing those inconceivable words). Deb wants to see a genuine smile return to my face and I have to agree, it would feel good to feel good again. The weight of sadness can be unbearable.

To my surprise, I like the book. The author is smug at times, a little coy, but the advice she dispenses is invaluable. A lot of it is plain common sense that we already know (be polite and be fair). But apparently, in these crazy, hectic, online, plugged in, stressed out days, a reminder is in order because her happiness franchise has taken off like gangbusters.

And what's a "gangbuster" anyway? But I digress.

Anyway, I'm following her tips and trying to be a better and happier person. Not always succeeding, but at least cognizant of my actions. That's why yesterday, when I received a donation request from The Humane Society, I wrote a check. Normally at this time of year I discard these pleas because I have three different insurance premiums all due on December 1st. And right before Christmas, no less. Ouch.

But this time I remembered one of Rubin's tips, which is "be generous." And The Humane Society was my mother's favorite charity. So what if I have to budget a little more than usual? It felt good to mail that check.

Rubin's research also disclosed that "an unexpected present gives people a real boost." This was confirmed when, just hours after mailing my donation, I learned that I had won The World Series office pool. Never mind that I don't follow baseball and had, in fact, referred to the games as The World Cup. I added my dollar to the pool just to be a team player and came up an office winner.

But it felt like more. On this day I tossed out a bit of goodness and got some back in return. Unexpected, unanticipated, but delightful nonetheless.

It felt like a sign, a message from the universe telling me that it's okay to feel happy again. More importantly, it's time.

1 comment:

Maria C. said...

I loved reading this! Welcome back!

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