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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is not my review of The Happiness Project

JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying. [Joy week starts here. Click here for this week's Bliss Initiatives]

Do you know how it is when you think you have a great idea? Something you are excited about. You talk about it all the time (or in my case blog about it) and you can't believe no one else has thought of it too. The possibility that you have come up with something truly unique keeps you awake at night with excitement. 

Wow! Life sure is fun! I can't wait to share the news with the world!

And then.

You casually pick up a book that looks interesting, begin to read and BAM! You realize you are not the only one who has thought these thoughts. You are NOT unique and, as much as the validation that you are indeed onto something impresses, some of the fun of it all is sucked from your sails. 

I'm too late. Everything has already been said. 

This is exactly what happened yesterday when I started reading Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project.
  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

I have actually been following Gretchen Rubin's blog for quite a while. Her beautiful professional website showed up early as I surfed the net for tidbits to enhance my Everyday Bliss project.  She wrote posts that resonated with me. I even linked to her blog on several occasions and reposted one of her articles for you to enjoy. Someone else is playing a year long game, even if hers had already been completed three years earlier. A kindred spirit is found! 

I tweeted her with links I thought she might find interesting and she tweeted back! She even followed me! How fun is that? It was if my own happiness guru had asked to be friends. 

Gretchen started posting about the book she was writing about her year long project and I was delighted for her. I tweeted congratulations and wrote encouraging notes on her facebook wall. I am truly excited for her! 

Almost instantly the book is a NY Times best seller! Her success makes me happy. I intend on reading it immediately and download it to my Kindle. Somehow life happens and I don't get to it. I think about it. I must get to that book I say to myself but somehow it doesn't happen until I give myself bloggy accountability.

As is the case with this entire blog, and many of the things I have determined to do, I really don't get off my duff until I promise to someone other then myself that I will do it. I know all the self help jargon about being true to yourself and answering to yourself first but for me the threat of embarrassment is much more motivating then anything I tell myself.  I don't want to let YOU down, so yesterday I pick up the book.

I like it. I don't know what I was expecting but it surprises me in that it is a bit different then her blog. In the book she provides a lot of context for how she got started. Stuff that may have been in her blog but since I haven't followed her since the beginning I may have missed it. 

And then it happens. She tells us her inspiration for the project and wouldn't you believe it; It is Ben Franklin!! Her entire project is designed around the exact same thing as my Everyday Bliss project. Now Ben's book has been around for a couple hundred years. It isn't as if I thought I was on to some proprietary material. It makes sense that other people would be inspired by the same thing. 

I was floored! Kindred spirits indeed! 

Her approach is a bit different then mine and possibly more true to the Ben Franklin way. She does endeavor to keep track of all her virtues by the end of her year where as I have just been concentrating on a specific virtue weekly. She has other influences as well but her explanation of the Ben Franklin element really got to the heart of what I have been trying to explain since I started.

She has a similar idea. She did it first. She is a better writer. 

Yeesh! Is there anything left for me to do?

O.K. Of course there is.  There is no limit to the number of versions of the same game Ben can inspire. Like my idea that everyone can play their own "Everyday Game," Gretchen is advocating that everyone create their own Happiness Project. I just have to get over myself for wanting to be first. Considering Ben is the ultimate first, I suppose that would actually be second. And now that I also know that there is an iphone app for tracking and scoring a Ben Franklin Virtue Game I'm really clear that even Gretchen isn't second.

She is perhaps twelve hundred thousand and four so I can be happy with Eighty-seven hundred thousand and five. What number will you be?

[When I'm finished with the entire book I'll be back with my review. Fun to also note, as I am celebrating my 6 month blogging anniversary Gretchen was celebrating her 4 year anniversary. I wonder what will happen in my next three and 1/2 years? ]

Next Post: Something Super Joyous

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise


  1. How interesting! Great minds really DO think alike! I have heard so much about The Happiness Project, and I'd be interested in reading her book (if I ever had the time!). Both of you have so much to offer and inspire in others. And that's what it's all about really. :) Have a wonderful day. Theresa

  2. Did you know that statistically speaking every time a great original idea is had at least three other people have that idea around the same time? You are not alone in being not alone, my dear! And I think it is great that we can all come together and put our ideas out there in different ways...even if they are similar ideas!

  3. I'm reading it too! I'm really enjoying it.

  4. I've been there and it is frustrating ~ but you will do this work through your own lens and your story will resonate in its own unique way!

  5. Thanks all! Writing about it was cathartic, I've already moved on!

    Kassie, fun having someone read along with me! I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts when I get to the review!

  6. There's an app for that? Now THAT is funny. Your experience in reading this book was probably a little eerie, but it will probably help you see your own work in new ways. It's all good!

  7. I'm coming back to finish reading this- don't go away, and don't be too disheartened...I've more but gotta go for now. I'll be back...(Terminator- at least you didn't try folowing that for a year!!!)

  8. THIS one has been sitting with and permanently implanted myself in my brain.


    I'm sure there are tons of us in the same situation, but I have lost count of the times I have gotten SO excited about an idea, only to have those hopes squishied when I discover exactly the website or the book that says exactly what I wanted to say exactly how I wanted to say it...except better.

    I think the ME desire, however, is finally taking over. I realize that if there is indeed some truth (or truths) out there, the BILLIONS of people who have lived before me and during my life have probably already thought of it (them).

    The kicker is that I'm coming to terms with the fact that my unique way of thinking about it, having lived it, choosing how to live it now, and (most importantly), the "Language" I choose to express exactly what the world needs.

    Bummer of a responsibility.

    May we both find the strength to be up to it. Keep right on speaking your language, lovely - we all need to hear it.


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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