Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fulfillment Project

My blog hasn't really had a purpose.  Up to this point it's been a meandering train of thought kind of blog.  One day I blog about my book release, another day it's adventures at Yellowstone and then another day it's a conversation with my kids.  It hasn't been hard to come up with ideas but in terms of a theme, nothing has caught my attention until this week.

This is the week I inadvertently read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. 

It was inadvertent because I thought, I swear I remembered, my book club picking this book.  Except when I sent an email to one of the members of the group telling her how much I loved the book she reminded me that we had, in fact, picked something else.  So how did I come up with The Happiness Project?  Maybe someone mentioned it?  Did I see it somewhere?  Or maybe it was just a case of the right book finding me at exactly the right time.

The Happiness Project is a nonfiction account of one woman's attempt to make her pretty good life even better.  She sets out on a year-long journey to maximize her happiness.  This mission resonated with me.  My life is wonderful.  I have a loving husband, two adorable children and a beautiful home.  I'm a fledgling novelist at a time when the entire publishing industry has thrown up its hands and said good bye to stasis and hello to change.  I can walk my kids to school, two ice cream shops, Starbucks and restaurants featured in national magazines.  As I said before, my life is wonderful, and there are the days when I can hardly believe my good fortune. 

However, as I read The Happiness Project, I began to feel like Gretchen Rubin and I could be the same person.  First of all, we have a lot in common.  Both lawyers turned writers-check.  Both lived in New York City (where she still lives)-check.  Two kids-check.  Her husband is Jewish and his first name starts with a J-silly, but still check.  Neither of us are particularly religious-check.  Both love children's literature-check.  Those are the surface commonalities but we have even more in common.  She started her project because, like me, she also loves her life.  Also, like me, there are days when she feels like she should be happier.  Neither of us are suffering from depression.  It's not that, it's better described as a failure to enjoy, savor or be in the present moment. 

Gretchen wrote a well-researched book about her attempt to maximize her happiness.  I'm going to write a not very well-researched series of blog posts about it. 

With a twist.

I like everything with a little twist.  If I'd had to wear a uniform to school, I'd be the one with the crazy hair bows and ridiculous socks.  That's just me.  So here's my twist.  Instead of reasoned research and quotes on happiness, I'm going to give you myself.  I'm going to experiment, like a human lab rat, using some of Gretchen's ideas and some of my own.  What you'll get to read about, at least once a week, is the process and the results.  The other twist is I'm going to call it the Fulfillment Project.  To me, the word happiness feels too glib and fleeting.  You can be happy without being fulfilled.  But the reverse isn't true.  If you are fulfilled, you will be happy. 

That's my goal.  I hope you'll enjoy reading about it.

14 comments:

Mariebop said...

Thanks for the follow! I'm following you back.

My blog has no theme either. I can't wait to read more about your Fulfillment Project. I'm one of those happy but not fulfilled people.

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with :-)

Jessica Bell said...

Wow. Can't wait to hear more!!!

Antimony said...

This sounds like an amazing idea, I'm looking forward to reading about it.

A x

Shelly I said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelly I said...

Johanna, I gave a giddy little "hurrah!" when I saw your post. You have a great sense of humor and I know you'll bring a lot to this topic--and I want to SEE a lot on this topic. Because, like you, for me a richer life means it's more satisyfing and meaningful as well as more joyous.

To keep my eye on that ball and to to give me an excuse to talk to other people about how they make their lives juicier, I launched http:/TheBigLifeProject.com.

I can't wait to read your upcoming blog posts, and see what else you and I have in common.

CPatLarge said...

Check out a book called "Flourish," by Martin Seligman. He agrees with you (as do I!) on defining happiness more specifically. Good luck to you! I'll be following.

Hart Johnson said...

I think this sounds GREAT! What a wonderful goal! Have you ever heard the blessing about wishing people 'enough'? Part of it includes enough sadness that the happiness can be appreciated, and that is sometimes what i think of when people with great lives have moments of discontentment--the contrast is missing. Maybe the contrast could come in volunteering or something for people whose lives really suck? I don't know--you know more about it, but that is one of the things I think of. Meditation for staying present is another one I hear from my Buddhist friends. As for me? My life has some sucky features (mostly financial) but i am pretty happy most of the time... Still, i am eager to hear how to be happier.

Jo Schaffer said...

Sounds fantastic! The pursuit of happiness is what makes us all human. (=

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Why not? Go for it and see what happens.

Brenda McKenna said...

Oooh...I'm liking the randomness of your blog, but this theme sounds intriguing. I'm glad I get to follow you now!

Johanna Garth said...

Hi everyone, I've received such great and interesting comments in response to this blog post. There are more than a few that I want to delve into deeper than a short comment will allow so I've decided to dedicate a blog post to discussing The Fulfillment Project Comments. This week it will be Thursday...looking forward to delving with you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I bet you pas along a lot of happiness in the process.
Johanna, thanks for always visiting. I will be better about visiting you in the future!
Oh, and I'll remind you before the next IWSG post.

naida said...

Sounds great. Have fun with the Happiness/Fulfillment Project!