I actually started reading The Happiness Project about a month ago, but pushed myself to finish reading it this week. The book takes you though a year-long experiment that the author conducted on herself to see if she could make herself happier. She read nearly everything she could about happiness and used that to set resolutions for herself each month. She would grade herself on her resolutions each night to keep herself accountable. The most interesting part of the book for me was the first chapter, entitled "Getting Started", where she talks about her motivations and some general research about happiness. She points out,
"According to current research, in the determination of a person's level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts. In other words, people have an inborn disposition that's set within a certain range, they can boost themselves to the top of their happiness range by their actions. This confirmed my own observations. it seems obvious that some people are naturally more ebullient or melancholic than others and that, at the same time. people's decisions about how to live their lives also affect their happiness."Each month, Gretchen focuses on a different subject and explains what the research says, how she implemented it, and how it went. Some chapters I was able to connect with and gleam some insights from, and others were just too far removed from my reality. It is worth noting that Gretchen is married, wealthy, non-religious, has two school age kids, and works from home as a writer. I would bet that the more you have in common with her, the easier to relate to the book as a whole.
Although I had to trudge through some of the less interesting (to me) parts, I am glad that I read the book and have some ideas about how I might implement some of the things into my own life. We'll see if I actually follow through on that!
Quiet was a great read for me. I have known that I was an introvert since the summer after my junior year of college. I was working at my parent's church doing youth ministry and the church had hired someone to type all of the employees using Myers-Briggs and then conduct a day-long training on how to use the results to improve the working environment. I tested as an ISTJ, and still feel this is a pretty accurate description, except that I have switched from T to F. At that time my T and F were pretty close, but my life experiences as a high school teacher have pushed me squarely into the F camp!
Learning I was an introvert was helpful then, but it was only in dating my husband that I really began to analyze the importance of how I related to others. John was the first extrovert I had dated seriously. On one of our first dates, he took me to a high school football game. I was totally unprepared and completely overwhelmed and overstimulated! It took us a while to figure out how to enjoy each others' activities, but I think we bring out the best in each other :-)
The subtitle of Quiet is The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't top Talking and I think this accurately captures the content of the book. It starts by examining the historical context of how the U.S. has become a country that values extroverts and then looks at the research that shows how vitally important introverts are. The book is filled with summaries of the research and examples to help illustrate the concepts.
The true beauty of the book for me was how it helped to explain to me a lot about my feelings, actions, and motivations. It gave validity to the way I approach the world and research-based suggestions for how I can work/live best. I would highly recommend this book! And it's not just for introverts! The research presented could help extroverts interact better with introverts.
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