The Happiness Project - The Beginning

THE HAPPINESS PROJECT - GRETCHEN RUBIN


I have news. I have decided to do my own happiness project! 

I came across this book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for the first time through one of my closest friend's book collection, back in 2012. I read a few chapter, got inspired, and bought my own shortly after. I did not finished the book though. When I went to Germany sometime in October that year, I left it in Indonesia. Forgot about it for sometime, then shortly before I leave to Germany again, this time February this year, I spotted the same book at the airport. I bought it, again. This time with the intention that I will, however, will not let the inspiration from the book fade away without doing something about it. 

Why this book? I don't really now why. Perhaps because this book is simple. It came first hand from personal experiences of the author, which the issues/topics coincidentally a bit similar to mine. Completed with other people opinions and their own experiences, it sounded reasonable to me. Surely there are so many books out there that talk about happiness. Why this one get to me? I seriously do not know. I got inspired. And for me, that is the most important thing. 

MY FAMILY PORTRAIT, CA. 1981

When I was younger, I guess like most people I did not really care too much about the concept of happiness. As a girl who was brought up in a culture that was not really so much into taking woman's side, plus being a person that is actually pretty much easy to be happy with small things, concept of happiness seemed a bit...confusing. Easily mistaken with the feeling of being grateful. Being happy mostly means when people you love are happy, means you are happy. I did not question weather I was happy. I SHOULD BE happy. That was pretty much the concept. Took my mother as an example. She was a typical Indonesian housewife who woke up so early in the morning taking care of her family. Made breakfast. Clean up the house. Made lunch. Dinner. Did laundry. Me and my sister grew up nicely. We had a beautiful home. My mother made sure that our house was really nicely decorated, with terrace full of beautiful plants and flowers. And she really had talent for it. From outside, it looked like a perfect family. My father had a great job that paid well. My mother was active in the community. My sister and I did great in school, I never failed to be the best in the class at least on my early years of school. My mother always looked well-dressed. The children were already bathed and dressed before my father came home from work. We had dinner together. From the outside, and from my own feeling, it seemed like a happy family. That is until I grew up a bit older when I realised, this family was going down. 

It all started when I was already in junior and senior high school, when I witness my parents fight like they were about to kill each other. You know, those fights when everything was flying in the air? ...

By that time, my mother had a small diner, where she was busy there everyday, and my father already had another job that made him stayed for three to six months away from us. The fighting got worse and worse, at some point I told them to get a divorce. They did not get a divorce though, but for years I kept wondering if one of the reason they fight so much like cats and dogs were because neither of them was actually...happy.  At that time I did not know for sure why weren't they happy, if they weren't. After all we had a good life. I mean money was not short. Children did great. So what?

Only years after I started to think differently and managed to picture the real possible reason why. Mother did what Indonesian woman thought to do. Father work to provide for his family. The same routine for years and years, as long as family is well taken care of and well provided. However I think they failed to really ask themselves and do something that personally make them...happy. They succeeded taking care of the children, but they failed to take care of themselves. The concept of woman doing something for themselves at that time was not really common. You left your children and husband on a Saturday to hang out with your girlfriends, having nice girl time and came back late? The next day you will have a mark on your forehead said : NOT A GOOD WOMAN and your neighbour will start gossiping about you. Doing something for your happiness seemed to be...selfish.

Looking back, I kind of wish my mother lived in a more modern era. Although now she is living happily and quietly with my father and our golden retriever Louie in a nice house in quiet green neighbourhood, I wonder if sometime she would think back of all her younger years and wished that she could have done something different back then. Now thinking about it, I feel a bit sad.

DAMN RIGHT! 

For my self, I also got my own time 'finding out' my concept of happiness when I was in some 'wrong' relationships. Love and friendship, both. I am a very loving person. When I love people, I'd do anything. As long as they are happy, as I always said. But slowly but sure, I got my lessons. Got some so called ‘friends‘ who were there only to want something from you, mostly money. Got an amazing man but then we drifted apart and I stayed few more years for wrong reasons (mostly because I know he loved me and he had been so kind to me that it felt somehow obliged to stay) that just made us more and more in the state of unhappy until I finally brave up to broke it off. I was deeply hurt by the fact that I had hurt this amazing guy. But I started to believe in my self and thought that it was just not working out. It was becoming toxic. We both needed to get out. That was my first big break. That was the start. 

Then I decided to open a fashion boutique to support my life without having no experience in fashion at all. I just knew, back from my modelling days, that I have 'good eye'. I love decorating so much and most of the time when I put on something on me people said its lovely.  It was a big risk. There went my savings. I just believed in my self that it will work out. That was my second big break. I thought, I am getting there. I am getting brave and I am not afraid to take action of my own happiness. 

My third and final big break? Sometime in 2008 when I was sort of close to somebody. Back then I already lived in my own pretty house and got the fashion boutique running when I thought that I need to learn more about fashion and design, so I decided to enrolled my self in fashion school. I told this guy about my plan and he said: why? no need. you better stay here. you are about to be thirty. other women your age are already married and have children. why bother going to school again? 

I lay awake until morning that night. The next day I told the guy that I am going. Just by saying that, that guy was a history. Why on earth, I thought, that I would let somebody, or anybody, get in a way of what I believe will be beneficial for my future? This is my future. This is my own money I am using. This is my own time I am sacrificing. I went to fashion school. Work my ass off. Graduated. Had a blast. Met seven other human being that are now one of the most precious thing I have in life - in terms of friendship, that is. ( Yes yes I will have to tell you guys about them sometime soon!) Learned so much and absolutely sure that I made one of the best decision of my life, following my heart and what I believed in. Since then I slowly start to recognise my personal happiness concept. First and foremost : You need to believe in yourself and take care of yourself first. 

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth.
We are happy when we are growing.
— William Butler Yeats

Nowadays I can say that I am mostly happy. But I am still in a relationship with my own happiness concept. That is why I am starting my own happiness project. How? I don't know yet. But I guess that means I haven't stop. I still learn. I still figure things out. Sometime in a nice way, sometime in not so nice way. I guess about this one people will never stop 'learning' or 'finding out', no matter how vary the concept of happiness is from one person to another. One thing that I can be sure about, we all want to be a better person, even a better person to ourselves. Live life to our fullest, and when we are lucky..being able to inspire other people. 

If you are interested to read the book you can easily find them at Amazon or book stores near you. In Germany they have a German version as well, cost from 6 Euro for Kindle Edition to 9.9 Euro for Paperback. You can follow or subscribe to her website The Happiness Project too if you want. I haven't. I just have the book. And I really hope it inspire you like it does to me. 

Stay loved and stay inspired, 

Your Eve