this isn’t always the easiest time of year to sit down and read a book – it seems like these early months of the year always bring with them the largest amount of “stuff” to tend to. However, if you can find the time for one book this season, I highly recommend you make it Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” Well-researched, organized, funny, insightful, and so very applicable, this book did an amazing job of boosting my spirits, as well as re-aligning my outlook on life. Here are just a few of the lessons I took away from it, and once you read it (or if you’ve already read it), I’d love to hear what spoke to you most!
1. Hug more – for some reason, this was the lesson that stuck out to me the most from this book. I remember very distinctly being at Whole Foods when reading this little section on hugging, and immediately wracking my brain for who in my life was close enough for a quick and easy hug fix. Sounds alarming, but it was that compelling – apparently, hugging is actually a really healthy activity in which to engage. Six seconds of hugging “is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding,” and hugging “relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain. In one study, people assigned to give five hugs each day for a month, aiming to hug as many different people as they could, became happier.” So get out and hug someone.
2. Love is shown through actions – Gretchen quotes Pierre Reverdy in her chapter on love, saying “‘There is no love; there are only proofs of love.’ Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will only see my actions.” This segues excellently from the first lesson – hug more, as a proof of love. But this is a solid and meaningful truth, and one that I often forget. No matter how much we may love a person, they only see that love manifested through our actions towards and around them. Be it gifts, acts of service, or simply taking time to look someone in the eye and let them know that you see and acknowledge them as a beautiful and meaningful individual, I think that we could all benefit by trying to incorporate more of these love-actions into our daily lives.
3. Aim higher, and don’t EVER be stopped by fear of failure – this final mini-lesson is such a crucial, and constantly applicable, one. The book has an entire chapter about what it means to try and “aim higher,” as well as some different ways to do this, but the one that stuck out the most to me was to try to enjoy the fun of failure, instead of fearing it. So often, we’re held back from our dreams by one thing, and one thing only: ourselves. Our fear, our anxiety, our worry, these things prevent us from ever even trying. So what if we learned to look at failure as fun, instead of terrifying. Gretchen says, “To counteract the this fear, I told myself, ‘I enjoy the fun of failure.’ It’s fun to fail, I kept repeating. It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative.” To fail means we tried something beyond our comfort zone, learned something about ourselves, and built a foundation on which to try again. Maybe it’s trying a yoga inversion for the first time, signing up for a marathon, starting your own blog, or whatever else it could be, don’t ever let fear of failure keep you from living your life to the fullest.
Those are just a little smattering of the lessons I gleaned from this lovely read, but there are millions more in there, some great moments and truly insightful musings. The book follows Gretchen as she cleans closets, sings through stress, and pursues happiness in every corner of her life, and I feel like along the way, she stumbles across some great tools for truly living in, and loving, the moment.