11 February 2011

Booking It with The Happiness Project

The Booking It book for February was The Happiness Project - I lucked out in January and snagged the brand new copy the library had gotten in.  I actually started out reading One Thousand Gifts but the beginning was too much of an emotional burden for me at the time and I switched over.  I was really glad I had!

To be blunt, I was more than mildly surprised that I enjoyed this book; not only parts of it but the entire work overall.  Based on the Amazon reviews, I expected to not "click" with Gretchen Rubin; I didn't expect to like her writing style, her point of view, and a gazillion other things about this book.  I'm content with my life, if not always "happy happy joy joy" *be sure to insert hyperactive bouncing and giggling there!*  as I go about my daily duties.  But I'm the sort who is content as long as there is controlled change (yeah, that'd be why I dig the military lifestyle) and I can control my environment (hence the Purell and the organizing tangents).  I've never been one to understand why other people are incapable of being happy with being content.  But I'm much more of a dog person than a people person, so that, too, explains a lot.  heh heh 

Knowing myself as well as I do, I was prepared to be like certain reviewers who found Rubin inapproachable and, dare I say it?  Uppity.  I expected her to be all citified and New Yorker-y (yes, that's a new word, feel free to borrow it LOL) and completely exasperating and unable to connect with the real world.  This whole concept of a happiness project just made me wonder why she couldn't just be happy with a new book and her couch.

Then she started delving into things and I was hooked.  While my personal reaction may not be the same to some of the situations she described, I was surprised to find that quite a few of them were or would be.

Then she mentioned going to the newsstand for magazines and y'all, I confess I cracked a teary smile.  One of my F A V O R I T E things on earth to go do is wander a newsstand and check out all the miscellaneous bits of knowledge and hobbies and habits and cultures that I know nooooothing about, all wrapped up in a tidy - and less consuming of time and money - little package of a magazine.  Being stationed OCONUS means I am at the mercy of the AAFES newsstands.  And bless their hearts, those media managers really do try.  The Bookmark (Stars & Stripes, if you're an old school milbrat like me) has the equivalent of 3 aisles of magazines.  They stock fitness publications - comics - fashion and hair and wedding and style magazines - a decent selection of cooking and crafty things (*sigh* above my head as a "only in my dreams" knitter) and they even have a good chunk of shelf space devoted to building and home magazines, including pubs like Urban Farm - which was a true DELIGHT to see appear since it wasn't offered via subscription at first.

Um, yeah, I really enjoy perusing magazines.  The problem I run into is that obviously AAFES isn't like Borders or Barnes & Noble.  They don't devote the resources to the newsstand that destination bookstores can.  They've got to meet a certain demographic within a certain space constraint and shipping issues - well, suffice it to say I get why I can't walk in and wander the aisles for an hour hunting out some random publication about horses or herbs or non-mainstream parenting or Scotland or... yeah, you get the idea.

I knew I missed it - but I felt I was getting what I "needed" because I subscribe to the publications that are most important to me.  What I didn't realize is how lonely I'd feel when Rubin described wandering the aisles and finding a horse magazine - picking it up and learning random (to her) things that ultimately made her more fulfilled and even better educated.  I'm content with my subscriptions (when the military mail system actually gets the magazines here; I've recently received an OCTOBER issue of one magazine, and at Christmas got an AUGUST issue of another!); but am I happy with them?

Not always.  And it took her describing something that seemed so odd to me - who doesn't go do things like that?  Sheesh! - to realize that as content as I am here on Okinawa, as challenged as I am by this amazing place and these people, and as much as I recognize the blessings of being here.... well, being able to flip through some random magazines about herbs, attachment parenting, or biodiesel farm vehicles would truly make me happy.

And as wordy as this is ~ and as odd as it probably is to a lot of you LOL ~ just be glad it was my mom that got the phone call with the request to just go to the bookstore now and then and grab me a handful of magazines about anything.  Or send me some magazines from the freebie piles at the bookstores, leftovers from her own subscriptions....Anything!  Make it random.  Make it something I've probably never even heard of... and maybe a little something that I've heard of but wouldn't normally bother researching myself... and maybe one that is just totally and completely utter eye candy. A little something that is printed on fancy paper with crafts I probably won't make or clothes I can't afford but can just sit down and gawk at for a blessed quiet hour after the kids are in bed.  Lucky for me, my mom has been stationed overseas three times and even though what I have access to is a far cry from what she had back in the day, she knows what it's like and will be sending me some magazines.  She already sent me a copy of the National Geographic world religions magazine, and I'm sure that was hard for her to part with.  (Now that I think of it, it's probably not her copy; I'm willing to bet she went and picked up a second one for me, because my Ma would lay down her life for me, but not always her reading material.  heeheehee)

Did The Happiness Project change my life as some folks have mentioned?  Absolutely not.  Did it give me some ideas for better communication - steps to add some fun into my life - and more than a few laughs and a couple of teary moments?  Most definitely.

I'm glad I got it from the library - and I enjoyed it so much I'll be shelling out the bucks for the Kindle edition.  Now if only it came with a newsstand.......

Curious about what else I'll be reading this year?  Here is my Kindle list and my Print list.  Right now I'm tackling two on the Kindle: Pajama School and One Thousand Gifts.  And I'm about halfway through the print version of Organized Simplicity as of tonight.  In fact, I think it's time to go finish off Pajama School.  Good night, Okinawa - good morning, North America!


Heidi Smith Luedtke said...

Hi, Melonie. Found your blog through the milspouse listing and thoroughly enjoyed your post on the happiness project. I read the book last year and found it engaging, too. I did not find it life-changing, but then I didn't truly start a project like Rubin did, complete with monthly areas for focus, lists and star charts and all that jazz. The lesson I did take away is that we can choose to live better and very intentionally tweak the way we do things to make it happen.

Best wishes to you,
AF wife, mom of 2, psychologist and writer. I blog at www.leadingmama.com and write for Military Spouse magazine among others.

Melonie said...

Hi, Heidi! Nice to "meet" you - thank you for taking the time to come visit my blog.

I didn't do a full project either, though I confess I did start using a sticker chart recently to get myself drinking more water - and a la Rubin, it worked! Guess I was more "gold star" oriented than I realized. :-)

Thanks again for stopping by - I'll come visit your blog as well.
~ Melonie ~

Gramma said...

Okay. Yes, I would lay down my life for my daughter. But then most of you knew that already.
Hmmm...reading material. Hmmm....well, since Mel was little if we did find something interesting in Stripes (that would be the aforementioned Stars & Stripes)that we were both interested in Mel would always be the bigger person and say "No, you read it first."
Anyone wondering can rest easy. I've gotten her one magazine, on the way to her in a day or so. Having said that you should all know, as Mel already does, that said magazine is in a "Momma only" box. Yes, there will be a box for the the two littleuns. Yes, Momma is an adult and, to use her phrase, content. BUT, refering to the fact that in 15 years as a milspouse, and moving way too many times (including temporary quarters on the 4th floor) I of all people understand that every now and again even Mommas need something just for them. Not the hubby, not the kids, not the dog or cat. Just Momma. Momma's box has a number of surprises for her. Things from Nana, one of Nana's and one of my GreatAunt Carrie's. (sorry, can't tell ya. Mel will know soon enough and probably take pictures for you!)
I'm fairly certain that Mel will clutch her box to her. Not open it till after the kids go to bed. Have a good cry as she wanders through the treasures. Grampa and I had quite a bit of fun shopping for her, so maybe we'll do it again next month! (I doubt, content though she may be, that she'll complain about another Momma box)
Love, Gramma