{You can find the first edition of this series here: The Happiness Project: January}

I regret that I must start February by saying that my book club did not like this one (written by Gretchen Rubin). I’m totally okay with that, as we all have different tastes, and I’m still glad I made them read it. I am a bit surprised though that I was in such a minority when it came to how much I adored it!

Since I actually made my pals discuss it at our book club meeting (evenings have been known to go by without mention of that month’s title), I learned the following:

One friend thought the whole idea of the project was a bit self-centred. I disagree, because I firmly believe that when you can find happiness (with no cost to anyone else) those around you really do reap the benefits.

Another mentioned that the author seems like she’s already perfect, and trying to be more perfect. I wondered what that said about me, when I feel like the Gretchen and I are kindred spirits? (And believe me, I’m not perfect, nor do I hold any illusions that I am, ever will be, or even need to be.)

Still another said that the whole premise was ridiculous because no one has the time to do a project like this. To be fair, I’m assuming she got a book deal ahead of time, and therefore had some income (either an advance or the promise of money to come) to get her through the year. And the whole “project” (i.e. work) aspect of it isn’t what interests me the most. I have no desire to put my goals on spreadsheets and track my progress. For me, the concepts are a little bit more broad and fluid – goals to keep in mind as I go through the month (and year), while holding down my own jobs.

February’s goals, for Gretchen, stemmed from the seasonal theme “Remember Love – Marriage”:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

My first goal is to respect my hubby’s wishes that I don’t discuss him on the blog, so I’ll be brief with my twists on these ideas.

One of my favourite pieces of relationship advice comes from Dr. Phil, and I remind myself of it often: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” You have to let some things go.

I also need to internalize a reflection the author made in this chapter, related to nagging: “I reminded myself that tasks didn’t need to be done according to my schedule”. That one’s a toughie for me.

When it comes to “proofs of love”, I am a firm believer in the deposit/withdrawal theory. You need to make as many love deposits in your relationships as you possibly can, so that when you need to make a withdrawal – large or small, and believe me, I’ve been there – you’re never in a state of overdraft. This doesn’t just go for marriage, but with other family members, friends and colleagues. I even think of it with my students and their parents, too.

This month, I encourage you to join me in giving proofs of love as much as you can: go out of your way to do the favour, show affection, give the compliment, make the gesture, and express gratitude. How can you go wrong?

I would love to know if any of you have read the book, and if so, what you thought of it. (I honestly don’t mind if you disagree with me…I didn’t write it!)

3 comments on “The Happiness Project: February”

  1. I read this book a few years ago and was able to gain a few ideas to increase satisfaction in my life. The biggest was de-cluttering my space and coming to the realization that visual disorganization effects mind clarity. I have since been fairly successful decluttering my office (home is always a work in progress!). I didn't connect with the author well enough to want to read her more recent book but certainly admire her for attempting to live a happier life.

  2. Oh Kate, I think you should totally discuss your husband on the blog! Sounds like such fun.
    As one of the non-lovers of the book, I do admit that I did gleam the odd tip from the book. Actually I did one thing before the book, then was reminded of that again when I read the book: stop hollering at my children. I enjoyed that the author was honest about that, and I am definately someone who has been known to raise her voice. In the past year I have adopted tthe practice of counting to ten in my head, and sometimes say "God give me patience" (and this is true, I do this daily). I love having my children and sometimes I find four children a handful- I am only human and I don't have the energy to pretend to be perfect!

  3. Im surprised also that this book was not well liked in your reading group!

    I really enjoyed the book. While I would not use all of the details of each chapter in my life – it was a good reminder to slow down and appreciate more!

    If anything, it taught me that I am more in control of my own happiness then I often think!

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