Secrets of Adulthood, and other happiness

It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.

— G.K. Chesterton

Because life sometimes seems a checklist of adversity, I groaned a bit when my sister pressed The Happiness Project into my hands. But contrary to first instinct, this book is not just fluff. The Happiness Project is an engaging, action-oriented read. Author Gretchen Rubin thoughtfully explores — through research and personal experiments — what it takes to feel happy. And while she seems a tad Type A (charts, resolutions, progress reports) I applaud her tenacity. A zealot for happiness sure beats a zealot for gloom.

Packed with commandments, secrets and manifestos, the book appeals to my love of lists and order. I especially like her Secrets of Adulthood:

People don't notice your mistakes as much as you think.

It's okay to ask for help.

Most decisions don't require extensive research.

Do good, feel good.

It's important to be nice to everyone.

Bring a sweater.

By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.

Soap and water remove most stains.

Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.

If you can't find something, clean up.

You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.

Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

You don't have to be good at everything.

If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough.

Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What's fun for other people may not be fun for you — and vice versa.

People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.

You can't profoundly change your children's natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes.

No deposit, no return.


And speaking of happy, the Secret Society of Happy People is celebrating Happiness Happens Month.

"Somewhere between The Ed Sullivan Show and The Jerry Springer Show talking about being happy became politically incorrect," notes the Society. "We're more comfortable airing our dirty laundry than telling people we've had a happy moment. . . Since happiness is contagious, if more people are recognizing and talking about it then more people will be happy. And ultimately, our world needs more happy people."