Saturday, May 5, 2012

I didn't like The Happiness Project

I plucked it from a New York Times Best Seller display, thumbed through a few pages and thought it'd be entertaining enough to pass the time at my gate at SFO.

That was November.

Call it bookworm's creed or what not... but if I start a book, I'll finish it.

Even if it takes five months of plodding through, begrudgingly picking up it in quiet moments... willing it to get better... rolling my eyes when I realize, four chapters later, it hasn't.

Today, by the pool, I committed to the final stretch and dug in.

Driven by the urge to clear it from my nightstand. Because a book isn't allowed on the shelf until it's been read cover to cover. An inexplicable rule. Strange, I know.

Maybe I was disappointed because I expected entertaining enlightenment... What I got was superfluous personal narrative.

It works as a blog. It began as a blog. That's what blogs are. A canvas for self-centered storytelling. Flecked with ego. Replete with anecdotes, yes.

I admire the year-long chronicle, but it irks me too. The crusade for happiness is kind of a subjective one. And while I struggle to qualify author (Gretchen Rubin) as guru, a handful of creased page corners are proof that some truths aren't lost on me...

"A common theme in religion and philosophy... is the admonition to live fully and thankfully in the present. So often, it's only after some calamity strikes that we appreciate what we had. 'There are times in the lives of most of us,' observed William Edward Hartpole Lecky, 'when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over as unappreciated and unenjoyed.'" 

"I try to remember not to judge people harshly, especially on the first or second encounter. Their actions might not reveal their enduring characteristics but instead reflect some situation they find themselves in. Forbearance is a form of generosity... 'Find explanations in charity' is a more holy way of saying 'cut people slack.'" 

And, powerfully concise...

"The days are long, but the years are short." 

Prepare to be gobsmacked... not with revelations, but nudging reminders.

Gratitude is contagious.

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