“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” – Joyce Meyer
In last month’s blog post, we talked about enjoying our lives and appreciating moments of happiness. Sometimes our own attitudes keep us from being happy.
I have rather an ironic example. I’m in a book club in which we read and discuss books for self-improvement. We met a few months ago to discuss the first few chapters of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book describes Ms. Rubin’s yearlong quest to become more happy.
Regrettably, I read the first couple of chapters with a chip on my shoulder. I thought, “This woman is a former lawyer, a published author, in a good marriage with a lawyer husband and two kids. She lives in Manhattan. Why is she not happy enough?”
That chip on my shoulder is especially ironic when you consider that her way of thinking is consistent with the Women Making Strides theme. “A woman who makes strides appreciates being alive and takes active steps to care for her body, mind, and spirit. She accepts challenges along her path and uses her God-given talents to better the world.” I encourage everyone to be the best they can be. That includes happiness.
At the book club meeting, it was obvious everyone had loved the book. We talked about deriving our own personal commandments; for example, Ms. Rubin’s “Act the way I want to feel.” We talked about decluttering as a way to happiness. And what about asking for help instead of being overworked?
I left that evening having resolved to reread those chapters without the chip on my shoulder. Would I enjoy the book more if I read it with a better attitude? I also decided to purchase a copy rather than read a copy from the library. This way I could highlight what I thought was important.
I’ve read through chapter six and attended a second book club meeting based on the book. And guess what? I’m amazed at the wisdom it contains. I find the concept exciting and life-enriching. Think about what makes you happy and what makes you feel bad. Use this information to create resolutions that will help you feel more happy. Keep track of how you do, and periodically check whether you are happier. Genius!
I no longer begrudge Ms. Rubin for seemingly having it all together. After all, who better to teach about happiness than someone who is happy? She comments, “I have such a good life, I want to appreciate it more—and live up to it better.” She also says, “Working on my happiness wouldn’t just make me happier, it would boost the happiness of the people around me.”
Recently I noticed another example of an attitude affecting happiness. My husband and I went to hear music at an outdoor venue. We loved the music and thought the band members were very talented. All four played one or two instruments, and they took turns being lead vocals. After awhile, we saw a couple we know, and the woman said, “This band doesn’t light our fire. We’re leaving.”
For a moment, I almost let that negative comment affect my mood. I thought, “I guess the band did play some songs I didn’t know. . . .” But I decided to ignore the comment and continue to enjoy the music. The couple looked tired that evening, and maybe that affected their enjoyment. I didn’t need to let it affect mine.
I will close by recommending you design your own happiness project. I am doing this also. And I know just the book to help us do that—The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
What keeps you from being as happy as possible? If you’ve read The Happiness Project, please share your thoughts about the book.