by Jo Keroes
Ah. A New Year (note the caps). A time for resolutions kept and un.
In this spirit, l can't resist offering my own resolution: read more books. The platform doesn't matter. Kindle, i-phone, or good old paper and ink - just read. Read more for pleasure and the exploration of new worlds; read more to learn, to entertain new ideas or even to revisit old ones, like New Year's resolutions.
In this regard, consider The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin's entry into what's threatening to become the topic du jour- happiness. Rubin may in fact be among the bandwagon leaders, since she has a busy blog and website devoted to happiness projects, along with lots of fans. Everyone, it seems, has resolved to be happier. A former lawyer who clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor, Rubin opted for an early career change and became a full time writer. Contemplating her life as a successful professional in a happy marriage with two adorable children, she realized she nonetheless suffered from a vague malaise, a feeling that she could appreciate her good life more than she did, could feel moregrateful more consciously. Taking stock of herself, she wanted to be less critical of her husband and kids, to nag less and acknowledge kindnesses more, to "change the lens through which [she] viewed everything familiar." Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert's adventuresome year of eating, praying and loving, of casting off an old life for new and exotic experiences, Rubin's year isn't about extraordinary change. She wants to find "more happiness in [her] own kitchen." So she studies the sages of happiness, from Greek philosophers to the Dalai Lama to contemporary positive psychologists, and smoothly cites their wisdom as she recounts her quest. Worried that working on her own happiness might be considered too self absorbed, she discovers that happy people are more likely to act altruistically, to be more interested in social problems and to volunteer more often than unhappy ones.