In my new-found motivation (fear) to finish my thesis, I’ve forced myself to read more. One book I’d been interested to start reading is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book was reccommended to me last semester, but somehow I never followed up with it. While interning at JA, I saw a copy next to the computer, so I decided to look through it. The book is organized into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year where Gretchen tries out a new resolution. I was immediately attracted to the book because the title of the May chapter is “Be Serious About Play,” which is something I plan to talk about in my thesis, applying joy/play/fun/creation/happiness/etc towards design, especially in education. I made my buddy Nick come with me to the Self-Help section of Barnes and Noble to pick up the book. I’m about half-way through, and I found some of the other chapters speaking to me to more than May’s “Play” chapter. I knew it was a good sign when joy is mentioned in the second sentence of the book. I think joy and happiness are closely related, and I’d be curious to hear what Gretchen’s definition of joy might be. Perhaps she views them as the same, but I believe joy goes a little deeper than happiness, or at least that’s what I’m arguing in my thesis.
I was a bit weary reading this book, as this genre is a bit overdone. Even in the inside sleeve of the book, The Happiness Project is compared to Eat Pray Love, Julie and Julia, and The Year of Living Biblically. While I loved the movie Julie and Julia, and I’m sure I’d enjoy the book Eat Pray Love, so many people have done these blogs, and for every blog that hits it big, inspired a book, then a movie, I’m sure there are hundreds that haven’t. I think this genre is tired. I really don’t want my thesis to be another Happiness Project in this way. You could say this book serves as an example of what my this is and isn’t at the same time! Tricky business for sure.
There are many jems in the book, I really enjoy her “Secrets of Adulthood,” some of my favorites include:
1. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
2. If you’re not failing, your’e not trying hard enough.
3. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (AMEN!)
4. By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
There’s a chapter where her blog readers add some of their own, which are interesting and fun to read as well.
1. Do stuff
2. Go outside.
3. Spread joy.
4. Notice the color purple.
5. Be loving and love will find you.
Corny yes, but I enjoy corny and sentimental sometimes. Gotta embrace that. My only worry venturing into this highly emotional and personal direction is some people’s inability to relate to the subject matter. One of my studio mates said joy isn’t a word she feels any connection to. Joy is not something she thinks about and it doesn’t define her thoughts or emotions. Another friend a similar thing, but he likes to disagree with anything I’m doing, and he also isn’t the most forthcoming person with his emotions. I think both of these persons experience moments of joy, whether they admit it or not. Perhaps they call it something else. Joy to some seems like a loaded word, like something people are ashamed to admit to feeling. This brings me to one of my mini projects. Many in my thesis class are doing projects that center around a single word, Invisibility, Truth, Curation, Time, etc and we’ve been encouraged to make a list of synonyms in regards to our word.
Here are some of mine for joy.
That’s basically where I am, I have some new ideas for projects, so I hope they pan out. I spent an hour or two making a schedule to write my paper, produce my exhibition project and thesis book. Breaking down this schedule into daily tasks, I’m breaking these huge projects into manageable bits. Tomorrow I’m buying a notebook where I can make lists everyday to stay accountable for what I need to finish. I also bought another book by Miranda July No One Belongs Here More Than You, so lots of exciting things to work on in the next week.