“The Happiness Project”: Be You

It’s Monday. It’s May, so we are talking about Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”.

As part of the project Gretchen created her “Twelve Commandments.”  The first, and my favorite, is: “Be Gretchen,” which for Gretchen means accepting her personal likes and dislikes, and then acting on them.


Gretchen noted that she loves reading children’s books, which led her to start a book club with other folks she knows, who also love reading children’s books. (There were people who did than she ever expected.) Reading children’s books as an adult might not seem like a big deal, but it probably would have surprised her law school classmates and readers of her books on Churchill and Kennedy.

I must admit that even though I love children’s books, prior to reading “The Happiness Project,” I might not have mentioned, when asked if I was reading any good books lately, that I just finished re-reading “Charlotte’s Web” of “Pollyanna”, now, I will! Thank you, Gretchen.

Are you willing to open your life to your likes?

Perhaps you would rather eat burgers, than pretend to enjoy foie gras?  Drink more beer than champagne. Or you might, prefer spending the night alone reading, rather than going out.

Please note: Each and every one of these examples could be reversed – you might prefer going out than reading anything, anytime – there are no “right answers,” only you and what you like.

Here’s Gretchen’s point – if you like eating ice cream right out of a container rather than baking (or buying) fancy pastries, why not serve containers of ice cream with spoons for dessert at your next dinner party. (Not that you have or need to have dinner parties, but you do you could.)

Make what you love doing a part of your life in fun ways. Have a beer tasting. Or a potato chip tasting, or ask your freinds to make and bring thier favorite comfort food to your next gathering. The list is endless and does not have to revolve around food – like mine!  Just do what you like and have fun!


Hmm, well we sort-of covered that in the “reversing” section above, but to review:

Don’t do things you dislike.

Do not spend time obsessing about not doing the things you do not like.  (Three negatives can make a positive.)

Gretchen learned to accept her dislikes, which for her meant that she was never going to “visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn.”

Now remember – there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but if you don’t want to, let yourself off the proverbial hook, and set yourself free to focus on what you do want to do – and then do it!

Being you has many silver linings, here are three I came up with:

1. Learning “to be you” will help you create more happiness in your life.

2. The happier you become, the happier the people you love and meet may become. (Research shows happiness is contagious.)

3. Learning “to be you” will help you understand that your spouse/significant, kids, parents, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. need to be themselves, too.  If you get really good at all of this – you will let them be them, and that will make them happier, and in turn, you happier because . . . happiness is contagious.

Well, there you have it: “Be you.” Get happier. Pretty profound stuff for a Monday morning.

So what are your “Likes”? Any you have been denying or hiding that you care to share? (Try it, it feels good!)

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