Recommended Reading: The Happiness Project

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This article originally written for Wekudo and can be found here.

Per a recommendation at my workplace, I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. It’s one of those books that had always peaked my interest, but never made it into my shopping basket, because, thankfully, I’m already very happy. Frankly, I didn’t think I needed a happiness project. But after reading up on Rubin’s personal journey to become happier and more grateful in her everyday life, I’ve totally changed my tune.

This book is recommended reading for anyone who seeks to improve their happiness right where they’re at–without changing careers, taking a creative sabbatical, or moving into a remote cabin a la Henry David Thoreau.

I’ll admit, after I graduated from college, I genuinely believed that a cross-country move and a glamorous new job in a big city was what would make me happy. But what I learned as I trudged through my corporate internship in my hometown for the next two years was that happiness was never far away. If you seek happiness where you already are, and learn to be grateful for what you already have, you can improve your outlook without turning your life upside down. I still believe that to be true–there are so many ways we can bring more happiness into our daily lives without necessarily making any drastic changes to our living situation or career path.

Rubin’s happiness project began with an epiphany–she already had a great life, but she knew she should appreciate it more.  Rubin armed herself with a stack of library books and began researching theories on happiness (in other words, she did the hefty lifting so that us readers don’t have to!). Rubin’s approach led her to create a Resolutions Chart that would guide her journey throughout the year.

The book follows Rubin as she tackles a different aspect of her life each month: family, money, and mindfulness to name a few. She works through actionable steps to accomplish her resolutions to do things like get more sleep, be more patient, or make time for friends. Ultimately, she learns that small changes in her daily life can have a real impact.

I learned this for myself after the book inspired me to make several improvements to my own day to day life. For starters, I began exercising more frequently (taking the stairs, walking on my lunch break, doing yoga 5x a week), tackling home projects on the weekends (donating old clothing, decluttering my desk) and dressing better (updating my workplace wardrobe, buying comfortable shoes in various colors).

I’ve learned that, for me, taking a short walk during lunch is like hitting the reset button. I’m able to get back to my work feeling more energized and focused. Oh, and dressing better really did improve my confidence in my workplace. You know what they say: look good, feel good.

I’ve always known that exercising, cleaning, and dressing the part are great habits to have, but I was amazed at how my small actions could have such a positive impact.

By the end of Rubin’s year-long journey, she reflects, “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life.” In other words, she was able to find more happiness right where she was, and at the end of the day, I think we can all learn something from that.

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The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

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As part of my journey to read more gothic fiction, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho was my first read of 2016. If you have any interest in the Gothic Horror genre, I highly recommend reading this book (although I think this is technically more of a Gothic Romance?). Read on for my thoughts on this classic novel–but be warned: there are spoilers aplenty!

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Dracula by Bram Stoker — Review

I'm scared of everything, but here we go.

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Let’s make one thing clear–I typically stay away from the horror section of all bookstores and libraries. I’m easily frightened, unbearably paranoid, and don’t enjoy the goosebumps, cold sweats, or “hair on end” feelings that spooky books typically produce.

But I think I may be a convert. I absolutely loved Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel Dracula, and I’m eager to dive deeper into the Gothic Horror genre. Here are my thoughts on the classic book:

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Post in Which I Rave About “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

I finally read Ernest Cline’s first novel Ready Player One, and was instantly sucked in to this modernized depiction of planet earth. The novel takes place in year 2044 (which doesn’t seem too terribly far away, frankly), when larger cities are crawling with “stacks,” structures of trailers stacked haphazardly on top of each other and housing several families in each. Half the human population is starving, cities are riddled with crime, and nearly everyone finds escape in a digital world known as the OASIS.

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Bi-Monthly Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Bi-Monthly Review is a twice monthly feature of whatever I happen to be reading. Highly informal. Opinions are my own. Try to enjoy.

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This is the type of book that makes me want to write an essay for fun. A story that I couldn’t put down until it was over, and then immediately wanted to read again. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read something by Henry James, and I’m actually thankful that I was able to discover this story on my own, and not as required reading back in school.

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