I just finished Beth Lisick’s hilarious memoir, Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone. She writes about the year she spent trying to improve her life by following the advice of ten of America’s best self-help gurus: Suze Orman, Richard Simmons, Jack Canfield, John Gray, etc.
Ummm…sound a tiny bit familiar?
When I first heard about the book, I have to confess, it made me feel anxious and defensive. Kinda like the way I felt when I heard about A. J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically. And when I heard about Jennifer Niesslein’s Practically Perfect in Every Way.
But then I reminded myself – Hey, I’m always saying that EVERYONE should have a happiness project! Here is hers! Fabulous, the more the merrier! It will be great! Obviously, something is happening in our culture right now, when people are interested in undertaking these projects — count me in!
And I read her book, and it’s terrific. I actually laughed out loud, which I rarely do.
Helping Me Help Myself perfectly illustrates the fact that everyone’s Happiness Project is going to look different, because everyone’s life is different.
Beth’s life is very different from mine. For example, she and her husband often stay out late, going to see bands play. I’m trying to remember if ever, in our whole history together, the Big Man and I have ever gone to see a band. I don’t think so.
Beth is the kind of person who can show up in a new city, meet some people, and end up having dinner with them that night. And enjoy the process. This isn’t me.
But that’s the fun of it! — seeing how she lives, what challenges she faces, how she tries to become happier and better. Every happiness project is relevant to every other, because we learn about ourselves by learning about other people.
Ron Hogan of the publishing-news blog GalleyCat, a guy who is a role model for my resolution to “Bring people together,” introduced Beth and me when she was in town promoting her book. He figured we’d have a lot to talk about.
Well, Beth confessed that she’d had a similar reaction to my Happiness Project when she first heard about it. It made her anxious. Then, she said, she reminded herself about “Abundance.”
That’s exactly what I remind myself with my resolution, “Spend out.” I don’t need to hoard; I don’t need to begrudge others anything, I can trust to abundance. We can all write great books about our happiness projects!
I really do believe that repeating these reminders really does make a difference in my thinking. I have the mantra my sister taught me: People succeed in groups. I have the sign-off I use whenever I email anyone with a blog: “May we both have a million readers.”
By “Acting the way I want to feel” (Third Commandment), I transform my feelings so that I feel friendly, generous, enthusiastic. And that’s a much nicer feeling than cursing to myself every time I see a nice notice about Beth’s book.
The thing is my Happiness Project really DOES work. When I take the steps I know I should take, it does result in more happiness.
New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
If you’re starting your own happiness project, please join the Happiness Project Group on Facebook to swap ideas. It’s easy; it’s free.