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“The least strained and most natural ways of the soul are the most beautiful; the best occupations are the least forced.” – Michel de Montaigne

Happiness is such a great topic to discuss don’t you think? The Happiness Project has truly been a fun book to read. Not only have I learned a lot about the science behind happiness, but it was inspiring to follow someone along their 12-month journey to become happier; someone who has a lot of the same challenges many of us do—being authentic, having meaningful relationships, getting the most out of and growing in your career, and being a fantastic, loving mother, among many other goals. You don’t feel so alone on your journey when others are right there with you. It’s comforting.

There are so many reflection points for me in this book that I can blog about it forever, but in the spirit of reading and sharing with you many wonderful books, I will choose to end my happiness observations by chatting about passion. Gretchen Rubin’s theme for the month of September is “Pursue a Passion.” According to Rubin, “Happiness research predicts that making time for passion and treating it as a real priority instead of an ‘extra’ to be fitted in at a free moment (which many people practically never have) will bring a tremendous happiness boost.”

Would you say the same is true for you? It is for me. I can share many examples, but a fresh one is reading. Reading is a passion of mine, and through my blog and my Relaxed Book Club (for personal development), reading has become one of my top priorities for 2010.

Rubin challenged herself to write a fifty-thousand-word novel in thirty days, which amounts to 1,667 words a day. Yikes! Well, for her it was so thrilling. Rubin shared: “Writing a novel provided the ‘atmosphere of growth’ that, I was becoming more and more convinced, was essential to happiness; I’d included this element in my First Splendid Truth, but it was even more significant than I’d initially understood. The satisfaction gained from the achievement of a large undertaking is one of the most substantial that life affords.”

What passion is just an “extra” in your life right now that you can make a priority to give you a happiness boost?

So was Rubin’s Happiness Project successful? She believes it was. I will let you enjoy the read as I did and check out her happy ending, but I will share that because she was able to work on the kinds of things she truly enjoys versus those things which are more forced, she really loved working on her goals for September. She also gives much of the credit for her success to her Resolution Chart, which was her daily “Bible” and kept her on track.  If you’d like to see a copy of Rubin’s Resolution Chart you can send her an email to: grubin@gretchenrubin.com. Just type “Resolution Chart” in the subject line.

So, care to continue with me on my journey? March’s selection for my Relaxed Book Club is Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin. In his new book, Godin examines how a person becomes indispensable. It is a person within an organization who acts as an artist, puts his/her soul and passion into the work; it is  “emotional work.”  Sounds amazing….I can’t wait to begin (today!) and I hope you will join me.

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Happy Trails, my friends!
Monique

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This month I’m blogging about Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I’m really enjoying her book, mostly because of the way she really puts herself out there. Connecting with her through her very human experiences is easy to do. I love this excerpt in particular, because it touches upon several things—working on ourselves and not others, learning how to be in a state of non-judgment  (a trait of highly successful people), and not sweating the small stuff.

Here it is…

I had come to understand one critical fact about my happiness project: I couldn’t change anyone else. As tempting as it was to try, I couldn’t lighten the atmosphere of our marriage by bullying Jaime into changing his ways. I could work only on myself. For inspiration, I turned to the twelfth of my Twelve Commandments: ‘There is only love.’

A friend of mine was the source of that commandment. She came up with the phrase when she was considering taking a high-pressure job where she’d be working for a notoriously difficult person. The person handling the process told her, ‘I’m going to be honest with you. John Doe is very effective, but he’s an extremely tough guy to work for. Think hard about whether you want this job.’ My friend really wanted the job, so she decided, ‘there is only love.’ From that moment on, she refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him. ‘Don’t your coworkers think you’re a goody-goody?’ I asked. ‘Oh, no’ she said. ‘They all wish they could do the same thing, too. He drives them crazy, but I can honestly say that I like John.

If my friend could do that for her boss, why couldn’t I do it for Jaime? Deep down, I had only love for Jaime—but I was allowing too many petty issues to get in the way. I wasn’t living up to my own standards of behavior, and then, because I felt guilty when I behaved badly, I behaved even worst.

From reading the passage you can assume that this “John Doe” truly is a difficult person, so what exactly did Rubin’s friend do to allow her to totally suspend judgment of her boss? Why couldn’t her co-workers do the same? I’d really love to know! In fact, if I knew her I would ask her:

  • “Why was it okay for you to take a position working for someone you knew was difficult?”
  • “What made it okay?”
  • “What are you doing, exactly, that others are not?”
  • “How are you able to completely ignore John Doe’s behavior and negative actions?”
  • “What have you learned about him that others have not taken the time to learn? How much of a difference has this made to your relationship?”

Her mantra, “There is only love,” definitely seemed to have worked. If you repeated this mantra in your head over and over in the moment someone was upsetting you or pushing your buttons, do you see how it could defuse your anger or aggression? For some people, especially in corporate environments, embracing others with “love” may seem a little mushy. I get it. But, if you bring compassion to the situation (instead of love), perhaps the results would be the same. What do you think?

If you continue to read The Happiness Project you will see how well this mantra, or commandment, works for Rubin. In fact, she decides that giving proofs of love will bring her loads of happiness. So, in closing, I’d like to share a quote by Pierre Reverdy, as Rubin did later in the book, as well as one of my daily inspiration reads from the Daily Kabbalah, which suits this discussion well:

“There is no love; there are only proofs of love. Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my action.” Pierre Reverdy.


“When we apply resistance in a situation and our opponent throws a bit of time into the space between resistance and reward, the spiritual Light we generate might not shine immediately. This creates the illusion that goodness doesn’t pay. Today, don’t seek an immediate result from your actions. Develop patience. Build your  certainty.”Daily Kabbalah

Give  only proofs of love and suspend judgment: a great recipe for happiness, I believe.

Have a great week. Happy reading.

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership,leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.