This year I will celebrate 50 years of life. How I arrived at this milestone is a bit perplexing simply because my mind refuses to sit and keep company with the fact I’m not 30 any more. And to know I’ve stretched 20 years beyond what my inner being will acknowledge in a chronological sort of way is a bit, I shall be frank, numbing.
Approaching the horizon of This Big Event and being soberly cognizant of the alternative to not reaching that pinpoint in time, I’ve decided to make the best of it. I’m challenging myself to get real happy, real fast.
OR ELSE, LISA. OR ELSE.
Since buying books makes me very joyful indeed, I’ve combined my love affair with the printed word and surrounded myself with books about (of course) happiness.
In one of my (too many) trips to Barnes & Noble this month and in a particularly blue-slash-surly mood about The Awful, Horrible 50 Dilemma, I was instantly drawn to the cover of ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by the tagline ‘a dare to live fully right where you are.’
They didn’t even have to double-dog dare me.
CHOOSE ME. I WANT TO LIVE FULLY. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
One Thousand Gifts chronicles Ann Voskamp’s quest to find joy in her every day life, regardless of her circumstances. Pushing through long, stressful days as a farmer’s wife and homeschooling six small children to extract happiness in all things, in all circumstances.
Ann embarked upon a personal pilgrimage to make a list of 1,000 gifts of seemingly common things that were part and parcel of her daily life. She believed that if she took a moment to record those things for which she was grateful, but never consciously acknowledged, she would live a fuller, richer, and more deeply connected life. Being grateful in all things, in all circumstances. Recognizing and giving thanks for simple things …
Jam piled high on warm, homemade bread
Afternoon sunlight spilling across rough-hewn floors
The aroma of lentil soup bubbling on the stove
Thankful for simple things.
I THINK SHE’S ONTO SOMETHING!?
After reading the first few chapters I fell in love with the Ann’s writing style. Her choice of words and the intricate blending together of her personal discoveries can only be described as a savory meal for the soul. I found myself reading the page once, then re-reading it for a second helping, imprinting the message to memory, feeling the deep emotion and impact of her insight. I felt peace and a sense of purpose, perhaps even clarity, reading One Thousand Gifts.
I will admit that part of the appeal to me of One Thousand Gifts was how the author wove together her story with descriptions of her daily life. Her authentic life. A daily journey of living with real things, preparing genuine meals with farm-raised food for her family, the nurturing manner in which she approached motherhood and her role as a wife.
BECAUSE, IN MY WOEFUL INADEQUACY AS A FAST-FOOD FEEDING, NAGGING, PATIENCE-LACKING, AND SOMETIMES SCREAMING-MEEMIE MOM, I SO ADMIRE MOTHERS LIKE HER.
Which brings me to my next book selection, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. While Ann Voskamp is the woman I’d dearly love (with every fiber of my being) to emulate, Gretchen Rubin is more closely aligned with the woman I actually am.
BECAUSE SHE CAN SOMETIMES BE SNARKY, INCONSIDERATE, AND STRIVING FOR GOLD STARS OF APPROVAL FROM PEOPLE.
JUST LIKE ME.
Gretchen was a happily-married writer, mother of two young daughters living in New York City who wanted to find a more deliberate-based level of happiness. Toward that end, her ‘Happiness Project’ consisted of taking a year of her life, compiling a list of ‘resolutions’ for each month that, when successfully completed, would bring her a higher level of life contentment. Some of her January projects included removing clutter and organizing their apartment which lead to a lower stress level and voila … more happiness.
Her February list, tacked on to her prior month’s goals, included love-directed resolutions, such as less snipping at her ever-tolerant husband Jamie, making a conscious effort to be kinder to people, and quelching her inherent desire to nag.
While One Thousand Gifts, written from a Christian perspective, is enriching to the soul and encourages a paradigm shift of thinking, living more deeply, connecting with, and acknowledging, God’s ever-present hand, The Happiness Project asks you to actually do something a bit more to reach a higher level of nirvana.
Both books, markedly different in their methods and conclusions on the topic of happiness, were excellent reads. I found peace and a renewed grateful mindset on thankfulness for blessings received after reading One Thousand Gifts. After reading The Happiness Project, I wanted to immediately sit down and start my own monthly lists of resolutions.
My first resolution in Lisa’s Very Own and Uniquely Personal Happiness Project would to be take the steps in the direction of becoming the woman I truly want do be. Because, the reality is, I won’t be blessed with another 50 years to figure it out.