The Happiness Project

So I’ve had a bit of a low recently. Don’t exactly know why, but I guess I’m in a bit of a weird point in my life right now and I couldn’t really handle it.

Still can’t, to be honest. Right now I should be sitting in a seminar that I enjoy and that I learn a lot from yet I am here, at home in my room typing this. Everything seems to require so much energy. The reason I didn’t go to the seminar is that I didn’t do the homework and the preparation it required, but the reason I didn’t do those? I don’t know, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. This seems to be the case with everything lately. The horrible thing is that I know exactly what I need to do to feel better, but even if it’s just something like boiling the kettle and putting on some music I just can’t get myself to do it. And that is ridiculously annoying. Also because I find myself guilt-ridden for not doing anything all the time.

To be fair, I have been doing some things. They range from actions as small (but essential) as doing laundry and cleaning the bathroom to more grand (okay, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration) activities like writing (and sending off) Christmas cards to all my friends and family and signing up for driving lessons. And I am writing this.

So, the reason I am writing this is probably something you have all experienced, being human: I want to be happy. Or at least satisfied, inspired, driven and/or encouraged. Who doesn’t. Spending my days wallowing over the things I don’t while I simultaneously neglect the things I should be doing is an awful waste of my time. And it’s not only that these are things I should do, these are things I really want to do. Ugh, it’s annoying.

Anyways, that’s that, I will take action now. It also coincides with yet another important statement: I’d like to out my self as a major fan of self-help books. At the same time I despise them. It is amazing how self-help books only ever tell you thing you already know. Yet, they manage to present these universal truths or lies in such a way that they suddenly seem more clear, more innovative, more inspiring and easier to achieve. Amazing. Become who you want to be in ten easy steps. Easy. 250 pages and voila, there you are. I must admit, I totally fall for that. My latest discovery in this field is a book called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s been around quite a while now, there have been sequels and accompanying merchandise and all that. It is one of those autobiographies re-purposed as a self-help inspiration. Of course, how much you enjoy reading these and to what extend the do or don’t inspire you is entirely up to what kind of person the writer is and what kind of person you are. Well, the writer is an Upper East side wife, writer and mother of two in her thirties and I am not even in my twenties, have some considerable commitment issues and live in a student dorm in Germany. Couldn’t be more different. Especially because she is the kind of person to have every minute of her day planned out with reading groups, gym classes, dinner parties and of course the hobby-dobby-do, an array of leisure activities. Yet, I like that her book comes undisguised and some of what she says and does makes sense to me too.

One thing she does is list and refer to things she learned as an adult. I can do that too:

It is okay to just like parts of a book and not the whole thing. The eating part of “Eat, Pray, Love”, for example, was really entertaining, while I found the rest to be sentimental bullshit. And that’s completely fine.

Clearly, I don’t give any shits about the months she spent working on her marriage and her parenting skills. I couldn’t be less thrilled about those. And I intensely dislike the her tone and general world view, but that lady struck a nerve with me when she mentioned a realization about how we will only ever be us. I will only ever like the things I like. I will only ever take the path that I take. With every decision we kill lots and lots of possibilities (and give birth to lots and lots of new ones, but that’s irrelevant in this context). I’ve been aware of this for quite a while (what did I tell you, self-help books never tell you anything new) and it has been a considerable source of my Weltschmerz (isn’t the German language resourceful).

Apart from this one realization the other thing I like is how this woman does things. Her way of trying to find happiness is not to meditate or find herself or whatever, but she just does things. Little things. And God knows, it is time for me to also do things.

So yeah, I’m going to become an expert on second-language acquisition, I’ll do all the small things that need to be done (eating, sleeping, showering, …) without making a fuss, I’ll finally get a grip on this whole blogging thing and whatever else springs to mind. Get ready to hear from me soon.

B x

P.S. Today I found that I can see cruise ships going up and down the fjord from my window! I was just sitting here and noticed a massive building moving behind the other buildings until I realized it was a cruise ship! How awesome is that!!

Here you can find out everything about Gretchen Rubin, her Happiness Project and the sequels and prequels. Also has some downloads that might or might not be helpful to you.

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