While I'm in New Mexico soaking up all things "America" I didn't want to leave this space hanging, so I gathered some pretty top-notch bloggers to strut their stuff. Today's post is from Tessa from Ciao, Blogga! I "met" Tessa before I arrived in Italy and was instantly drawn to her witty banter and awesome travel tips. She's on top of her blogging game and always shares posts about her latest trips around Europe, and she's pretty freaking awesome to know in real life!
Hello, new friends! My name is Tessa and when Jess asked me to do a guest blog while she's busy enjoying Target and Sonic, I happily obliged. Like Jess, I am living the sweet life here in Italia with my Air Force husband and even blabber about it from time to time over at Ciao, Blogga. We've been in Italy for a little over a year now and still have two more adventurous years to look forward to. While my husband and I absolutely love to travel and take in everything living in Europe has to offer, we still of course strive to make Italia our home, which means getting involved and hopefully making new friends along the way.
This all being said, a few months ago Jess and I were having lunch when we decided to start a book club. We really didn't know what all that entailed exactly, except, of course, maybe a book and some other clueless friends. A few Facebook messages were sent out and over time we decided on a book: The Happiness Project. Jess had suggested the book which meant in a month's time she would be hosting us at her home while we discussed our thoughts and feelings on Gretchen Rubin's year long experiment of making herself happy.
Let me start out this semi-review by saying if you haven't read the book, I'm not about to discuss any spoilers really. I mean, the title sort of speaks for itself, right? However if you've been dying to read The Happiness Project and just don't have a clue what it could possibly be about, I urge you to sort through this post or come back when you've finally read it. For those of you who are still reading - awesome. Anyway, Gretchen is an ex-amazing-lawyer who decided to quit her job and write for a living. I respect that. I believe doing what you love in life is one of the most important mottos to take on, even though it is much easier said than done.
Her book is a 12-month experiment where every month she has a new theme and new resolutions to take on in hopes of becoming happier. She admits that she started out the experiment already happy, so this was not a tale of a woman coming out of depression or fighting some inner demon - she was, essentially, an ordinary woman trying to discover what made her feel most content in life. The amount of research she did on happiness was overwhelming but as a reader, it was interesting to read quotes and studies I may not have read otherwise. Gretchen challenged herself to do new and exciting (or seemingly boring, like read 3 magazines once a month that she would have never picked up otherwise... being well rounded couldn't hurt, right?!) things each month as well as simple (and, in a sense, challenging) things like singing in the morning with her kids. Even though I only read 50% of the book (more on that later), I believe the idea of The Happiness Project is great and, despite what other members of our book club may say, I would reccommend it to friends.
HOWEVER—I say that passionately and sternly, hence the capitalization—this is not a book you sit down with a cup of tea to enjoy. If I could read this book all over again (you know, all half of it), I would do it month by month. When reading all of that happiness in one sitting or even over the course of a month all of the happiness began to become, sadly, annoying and repetitive. I found myself talking to Gretchen like, okay girl, I got it, you're a happy camper. However, the first three chapters motivated me an unbelievable amount. So, like I said, read The Happiness Project with caution and in moderation. It can't hurt to try to be happier. I think we can all agree on that.
So, what makes me happy? Our book club. If you would have said to me two years ago before I got married that by the time I was 26 I'd have a garden, be teaching myself to reupholster, and passionate about a book club - I may have fallen over dead with boredom before you finished your sentence. But in the past two years my life has changed dramatically - I'm married, living overseas, and attempting to make new friends every day. The book club gave us all something in common to discuss as well as let us all jot down an evening together in our schedules so we were determined to get together. I can't tell you how great it was to sit among girlfriends (and even make a new friend!) and discuss our lives - the similarities, the differences, how we deal with them, and everything else in between. So often we become busy with our lives and duties we forget the importance of socialization and connecting to one another... which actually, Gretchen talks about frequently in the book.
I have to ask - what makes YOU happy? What would your happiness project look like? Have you read Gretchen's book? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Keep in touch -