Wednesday, January 4, 2012

on becoming the happiest mom on the block.

In my attempt to meet a few more moms in my town and to do something at least somewhat intellectually stimulating, I joined up with a group that is starting a moms book club this month. First on the list: The Happiest Mom.

I really wanted to like this book, and there are certainly things about it that I do like -- cutest cover ever, fun layout, quizzes to take as you read, cheerful and upbeat writing style. But I guess it just seemed...fluffy. Each chapter is themed towards an area of your life and a general tip that supposedly will make you a happier mom -- great premise, right? But there is never much substance to explain why it works or what to really do to make it happen in your own life. "Make time for yourself." "Get organized." "Let some things slide." Yeah, I'm pretty sure I knew all of that already -- my problem is that I don't know how!

I guess I should have anticipated being frustrated by the book, since it is a publication of Parenting magazine and reads like a big collection of articles you might have ripped out from their back issues. Don't get me wrong: I am a subscriber to Parenting and I also have a giant binder of ripped-out articles I'm saving as resources! But I guess I was hoping for something more...scholarly? Deep? New? This just felt too surface-y and tired.

BUT -- I am pretty excited about getting to talk about it with other moms, because I have a feeling we are all going to have great stories to share about what chapter topics we're struggling with the most and what has worked for us in the past. And that's really the reason I read the book in the first place, so I can't complain about that part!

Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling On Happiness is a little bit more substantive and intellectual, though it doesn't focus primarily on parenting (it does come up, however). My husband and I have gotten some pretty great dinner-table discussions out of this one, and we've also enjoyed watching Gilbert's mini-series, This Emotional Life, as a companion piece. (It's available for instant streaming on Netflix if you're interested!) Gilbert's book is mostly about how to envision and understand your future self and make both You Now and You Future happy and satisfied. It's not an instruction manual in any way, but a mix of psychology, philosophy, and behavioral economics research into the human experience of happiness.

An instruction manual would be awfully nice, though, wouldn't it? Have any of you read The Happiness Project or Raising Happiness? I wonder if either of them would be more my speed...


  1. Thanks so much for stopping by the 'ol blog Courtney! So happy to find your blog; it's great! I will definitely have to check out Stumbling on Happiness. Seems like a good one to read to capitalize on the whole New Year's motivation before it fizzles! :)