A Summer of Happiness in the Second Week


The talented Denise at Hello Moxie (hello, have you seen her photos? Wowzer.) has inspired a Summer of Goodness here on Pars Caeli, the weekly bookclub capturing the best elements of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Last week I challenged myself to Act More Energetic, a resolution that Gretchen had set for herself in Chapter 1. Real quick recap: Done with Difficulty. In the last seven days, I've had both daughters up vomiting through the night, causing worry, mess, and less sleep for all of us. They both recovered quickly but the witching hour of 4pm (that's our roughest hour with everyone between meals and ready for a break. Do you have one of these in your house?) fought me and drained what little bit of zeal I had left in me from sheer determination. Nevertheless, I do think focusing on energy and being more present and awake in the moment was really helpful, and I saw the positive ways my children responded to this effort.

Chapter Two takes us to Marriage

Here are the resolutions that Gretchen set out:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don't expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love 
My hubby and I have been married ten years in August, and we've been in love for fifteen. I first admired and respected him as a man of great integrity and character. I fell for his wit, his enveloping expressions of love, and his determination. I can be a self-doubter, but I am sure, and I was sure as I've never been before or since, that he was the man for me...the one with whom I wanted to live in happiness for the rest of our lives.

Marriages are as different as the individuals who vow to be a part of them. I thought this, often, as I read through Gretchen's struggles and solutions in this chapter. Had I made a list on how to be happy + married (which I'm crafting) I don't know that I would include points one, two, or four...and I'm not sure if three and five would make my top resolutions.

In fact, in a similar way to Denise, I was pretty frustrated with Gretchen early on in the chapter. I believe that good marriages necessitate both individuals being loudly, passionately, and lovingly themselves. Simple eg: If you feel like sending Valentine cards is an important part of who you are, then your spouse should know this. He/she does not always have to honor every request and whim, but simply swallowing your needs and wants does not lead to happiness (in my experience).

It also felt strange to me that she didn't let her husband into the research and practice more (part of me even felt bad for him as she was experimenting with different approaches to see his reaction).

But I get it. This book is about the process, the project.

Here are some take aways that I did love:

#1. I was entirely engaged with the Fight Right section. I'm fiesty and often too defensive. I could use help here. I am, like Gretchen, a snapper. Her description of couples who fight right made sense.

Couples...tackle only one difficult topic at a time...these couples ease into arguments instead of blowing up immediately-and avoid bombs such as "You never..." and "You always.
 Ewh, yuck, I utter both of those.

#2. I've been rolling this one over and over in my head:

In marriage, it's less important to have many pleasant experiences than it is to have fewer unpleasant experiences, because people have a "negativity bias"; our reactions to bad events are faster, stronger, and stickier than our reactions to good events.
YES! I get this. In fact, my husband just brought up a morning conversation he had with a blogger about how much more attention negative posts get than positive. Our media is geared toward negativity and drama, and our brains are wired for it, too.

#3. Loved this one:

Although men and women agree that sharing activities and self-disclosure are important, women's idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting along someone.
 From the moment I met my husband, I was struck by what a great companion he was. Never had I met someone so open to accompanying and going alongside of me (and not directing, negotiating, or just letting me go on my own). We both work a lot from home, and even the simplest gesture of the dualing laptops, sitting close on the couch means a lot.

#4. The good word from Yeats:

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.

Definitely, yes. I have always been given a lovely space to grow and find new pathways to life fulfillments but am I offering the same? How are we helping each other to grow?

So here's what I'm working on for the week. It's not exactly one of Gretchen's resolutions, but she touched on it in her research.

#2 from my takeaways:

Create less negative experiences.

In many ways this ties up all of the resolutions. I am going to work on fighting right & offering more expressions of love. And I'm going to focus on him, and in the forefront of my mind, even with all the craziness that is life, I will create (meaning I have control of this) less negative. And I will naturally create more positive.

What are your thoughts, readers? Did you identify more with Gretchen's resolutions?

What will you take on this week?

Here's a pinnable for you. I've been talking with my kids about this a lot since reading. We've been practicing hugging each other while saying, "I love you, I love you." thoughtfully. That's about six seconds. So far, it's fabulous!

XOXO, MJ

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