The Happiness Project (and the season of resolutions)

Just over a year ago, I shared a cab coming home from a dinner party with Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project

. I recall talking about her conclusion that people are either “abstainers” or “moderators“; that one could either, for example, be good on a diet by allowing themselves a little ice cream now and then, or find it easier to cut it out altogether—avoid the temptation. I wasn’t sure which camp I fall into (except that, in the famous marshmallow experiment, I would eat the marshmallow).

Here’s my scenario: someone gives me a box of chocolates as a present. To be honest (sorry to say if you’ve ever given me one), I don’t really like getting this gift and I feel compelled to get rid of it as as fast as possible. So my solution is to eat the whole thing in a single day so that, poof, it disappears! I definitely lean toward abstainer, but I’m not quite fully there. Gretchen and I were pinning it down when, as is often the case in New York City when you’re in the middle of a good conversation, the cab-ride ended.

But ever since then, I’ve been meaning to read her book! Everyone raves about it, and occasionally I’ll peek over at her site (usually prompted by one of her guest posts on the New York Times blog), and read something that sticks with me for a long while. And while I’m not typically drawn to self-help books, I do love habit studies and goal lists.

Two favorites: 12 tips for a happier home (adapted from nursery school), and a post about one of the myths of happiness—that venting anger relieves it. That’s a hard one for me. It’s not that I’m a very angry person (I think I’m actually quite the contrary), but I do enjoy a good complaint-session with friends or with Aron. And I actually find it a bit distancing when someone can’t let loose with a little sarcastic venting, when they too often “Pollyanna” a situation—if you know what I mean. But maybe they’ve got the right idea.

Have you read it? Now seems like a good time of year to finally dig-in: just before the new year and the season of resolutions. (Oh, and are you an abstainer or a moderator? If you’re the latter, please come over and take away the holiday cookies and candy this December?)

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

[Image of Book by Shelby Nicole]

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