The first step, of course, is to find an excuse for the outrageous delay in reading this book. It has been eons, in byte time, since its release. The average surfer would have come across at least a dozen or more references to it, across platforms. I have myself enjoyed reading many a pithy blog post by the author. Moreover I am a self-help aficionado and even have the superpower to dig out profound insights on bettering life, from perfectly neutral text.
Yet….I just got around to reading the book, and I have nothing to offer but a baffled shrug in my defence.
The premise of this bestselling book is how the author undertakes a yearlong project to up her happiness quotient. She is a happily married, mother of two, with feet firmly planted on the ground – in New York, and no radical plans to run off to the Himalayas in quest of happiness. What is more, by her own admission, she is a reasonably happy person, leading a successful life. Even then, she feels a need to take charge and acknowledge her happiness.
She takes up pursuit of happiness as a project, and approaches it with resolutions chart and commandments and comes out happier, armed with a happiness manifesto.
Each month is dedicated to a specific area of life ranging from vitality and marriage all the way to money and mindfulness. The final month is the boot camp, where the objective is to try to keep all of the previous months’ resolutions.
The book is buoyed by erudite references from previous literary and scientific works on happiness. There are no attempts to reinvent the wheel, only a sincere effort at taking it for a spin.
For all the thought, planning and earnestness, that obviously seems to have gone into the project, she has not really stepped far out of her comfort zone. She has tweaked her boundaries and that seems to have been enough. This can be a source of further inspiration or boredom for the average seeker, for the exercise seems surprisingly doable, within the mundane realities.
But what makes this book tick, is the clarity with which she delineates the workings of her own mind and life. The simple honesty and humor with which she examines herself and her family is disarming. Whatever reservations I had about approaching happiness with a stack of charts and a tower of books vanished, just a few pages into the first chapter. It was a fascinating read and her enthusiasm, in all its first world naiveté, is contagious.
Then there are the nuggets of wisdom that stick to the psyche like little glow worms, throwing a little light and magic around. Those nuggets are scattered across the pages of the book. What can I say; I am a sucker for those…