It's been a while since I've posted and I'm not entirely sure what's been stopping me...
ok, as soon as I finished typing that line, I realized that I do know, I'm just not going to talk about it.

Regardless, I need to return The Happiness Project to the friend who let me borrow it but before I do, there are a couple of things I feel compelled to process a little further - and have on "paper" for me to refer back to. 

If you've taken a peek at my "new gadget/widget/whatev" you have seen that I really identified with the author (Gretchen Rubin) of this book, but there was one chapter in particular that actually made me stop reading and think.  This was followed by re-reading, more thinking, reading aloud to my husband and discussing in small chunks for several days (with 3 kids, that's how you discuss just about everything!).

Each of the chapters in this book is a month dedicated to a specific goal - of course, this I love!  In my world goals = gooood! (but more on that in another post).  The November chapter was called: Keep a Contented Heart.  As a Christ-follower, this is not a new concept - who hasn't memorized Philippians 4:11-13 at some point or another?  But one of the things that really struck me as Rubin unfolded what keeping content was going to look like in her life, was how far off the mark I really can be!  I mean, I'm content with my home and possessions, my appearance (most days of the month), my lot in life, my ministry and spiritual gifts - so that's it, right?  Well, look at this....

She breaks down her monthly goals into sub-goals (and of course, this I love!): i) laugh out loud, ii) use good manners, iii) give positive reviews, iv) find an area of refuge.  The first has been something I've been working on for quite a while.  If you have kids, watch their faces when they are able to make you really laugh, with complete abandon - you've never seen such delight!  Choosing to find the fun/funny in things is a gift you give to others.  Here's a quote that will take you right to the point:

found it here
"Responding with laughter meant that I had to give up my pride, my defensiveness, my self-centeredness."
 (page 264)

This is one I had to chew on for quite a while. This doesn't just mean being able to laugh at yourself, though that's part of it.  It means making the choice to let go and just enjoy instead of seeing the down-side of things, or thinking that this world is all about me. 

Yesterday after school, my kids were talking about how they'd spent their indoor recesses, and the younger two were demonstrating their "mad skillz" in dance having played Just Dance 2 on the Wii in the gym.  Please believe me when I say I'm not usually so indulgent, but I actually went out and got the game, just so I could see them dance.  As we broke out some moves (myself included, I'll have you know!) my oldest kept choosing a game and then refusing to dance to it.  This poor sweetie - first born, potential perfectionist - could not let go.  She heard us all laughing together and assuming we were making fun of her.  My heart broke, because I know what that feels like.  It can be so hard to let yourself just be silly for the sake of fun.
As I quoted a while ago (and Rubin quotes often in the book):

It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light

Do you think it requires giving up pride, defensiveness and self-centeredness to be more fun and laugh out loud?

Do you think making this choice would help you feel more content in life?

I've always thought it was a personality-related thing - that there are just certain types of people that do this naturally and easily.  But is that really the case?

More on that next time....

dun, dun, duuunnnn.....
(cliff hanger music!)


  1. prepare for comment that is very long winded :)....
    i think the first question is really only a question for a person, if the answer is yes. what do i mean by that? I have always felt that laughing out loud should be spontaneous and part of someone's unique personality...if you have to think about it too much, you probably just aren't naturally so inclined, not the type that is always be focused on "fun" (and seriously, there is nothing wrong with that, not all people can throw their heads back and laugh loudly or freely-we are all made to express ourselves differently). So #1 NO. Not for me. I think (but am not positive) that people who are prideful and self centered can still experience fun, happiness. AND, as important as i believe laughter, silliness and tom-foolery is, I don't think people should beat themselves up for not being able to laugh more...or not feeling free to do so. I think one should, be true to themselves while putting others first.
    #2, No. For me happiness does not totally equate contentment. it is connected, but again for me not to such an intense degree as proposed in the book.
    bElieve me when i say that, I liked this book, but i must admit that when i closed it I felt really....tired (there was so mUCH to contemplate), and I realized that there is/was a fine line between pursuing happiness and just BEING HAPPY (something for me is almost lost in the pursuit of it). BUt that's just me ....and i'm sure others went home with entirely different perceptions!!
    Good questions becky. made me think, that's always godd.

  2. Deanne21.1.11

    First off, sorry this comment is so long! And these are just my thoughts, I don't think my opinions are truth because I know I don't know very much!
    1st question: Maybe sometimes. But I don't think all people who don't laugh out loud easily are prideful, defensive or self centered. I wonder how often Jesus laughed out loud or had fun?
    2nd question! I think being happy and being content are different. God commands us to be content does He tell us to be Happy? I honestly don't know. I know he says be of good cheer, but I looked that up and it means have courage. I guess we are to have joy.
    The pursuit of happiness sounds like something that the world preaches. Maybe our idea of happiness is different than Gods.
    What do you think of this quote? "God does not care whether I am happy or not. What God cares about, with all the power of God's holy being, is the quality of my life...not just the continuation of my breath and the health of my cells....but the quality of my life, the scope of my life, the heft and zest of my life...fear of death always turns into fear of life, into a stingy cautious way of living that is not really living at all...to follow Jesus means going beyond the limits of our comfort and safety. It means receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them possessions." Rev Barbara Brown Taylor

  3. Deanne21.1.11

    I didn't mean to make it sound like I think being happy is bad or meaningless, just that I think we have to be careful where we find our happiness and contentment. The world preaches the most important thing in life is our happiness. The gospel preaches something entirely different.
    I look forward to your next blog.

  4. Ok girls, I've decided that I'll respond to your comments here, except for what I've already address in the current post.... I hope that's ok! :)

    #1 I certainly don't think people who don't laugh out loud easily or are incapapble of being fun are ALWAYS prideful and selfish. BUT I do think there's something to the idea of releasing my pride in order to find the fun in a situation and delight in my circumstances. FOR ME what that means is not worrying about what people think - if I'm goofy to them or if I don't seem like I'm taking life "seriously" in their opinion. FOR ME it means letting go of my self focus long enough to speak love and joy into the lives of the people around me - particularly the ones I live with. To laugh out loud at the jokes of a child (and sometimes a husband) that you can see coming miles away takes being intentional and I think that's a fine way to bless my family. I don't think being conscious of this area of my life takes away from being able to experience it - at all!
    As for Jesus - I remember the first time I saw the Gospel of Matthew videos starring Bruce Marchiano. My initial reaction was that his portrayal of Jesus was almost irreverant, but I can't tell you how many times those images have come back to mind. Marchiano played a "joyful, smiling Jesus" which has blessed my heart in so many ways. I googled it and watched some yesterday and while it's a little weird because he has VERY similar eyes to Steve Carrell (fr the Office), it's WONDERFUL (to me) to see the love and delight he expresses through those eyes. Jesus came and certainly "meant business" in his short time of ministry, but I have to imagine He had a certain charisma to attract such attention - good and bad. Obviously, we have no way of knowing for now! :)
    #2 As I mulled over both your responses, it occurred to me how right Scripture is when it speaks of the power of words. Words carry deep meaning and association - different based on our experiences. In the current post (which I wrote right after this one) I talk about the word happy. My feeling is that as a Christ-follower, I want to claim back the word happy from the world; to take away the meaning of it being about my circumstances - probably related to financial security and everything going MY way, and let happy be an EXPRESSION of my JOY - that comes from knowing, loving and serving Jesus.
    I think another word that is very powerful is the word PURSUIT. In my perfectionist mind there is a temptation to always want to be trying in my own strength to be perfect. In my renewed mind, I know that will never happen, so the temptation is to swing waaay over to the other side and give up trying altogether. The way I read scripture, I feel called to work with the Lord - or maybe better said, cooperate with Him - to become who He's calling me to be. That is why I seek to add little things - Christ-like-ness-es - into my life. There is nothing lost in the pursuit FOR ME.
    I really appreciate being able to have this conversation with you both! I do believe we're all made differently and called to different things at different times, and that's ok! :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. ...and I just noticed that I outdid you both in long-windedness...yikes! ;)

  6. How true your words are, i totally agree. Being intentional about happiness can definitely shift us in the right direction and help us live more lovingly.

    Good topic to explore!

  7. Deanne23.1.11

    Last comment I promise,
    I love what you wrote about the different meaning of words and how they can be interpreted differently. Take back the word Happy from the world. I love that. That's how I feel too but I am terrible at expressing in words what I think. That is why you write a blog and I don't!!! I actually lost sleep over what I wrote and that I couldn't delete it! :) Maybe your next blog could be on anxiety. :)
    I have seen myself change from someone who could find joy in the little things to someone who struggled to find anything to be joyful about. And wondering what it would take to get that back.
    Also I was challenged on Saturday about my thought that maybe Jesus didn't have that much to laugh about or have fun at here on earth. I will have to watch that movie.
    If every good and perfect gift comes from our heavenly Father then I hope to use the gifts of happiness and laughter more often.
    Thanks for challenging me and causing me to explore this topic!

  8. I just read this discussion over again...I really appreciate you girls and I love hearing your thoughts. Just wanted you to know how much I value working through this stuff alongside you. I'm so glad that we get to journey this life together! "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24 Becky, Deanne, Christine, you three need to know how much you spur me!


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