Scrap Happy: A Happiness Project

This entry is part 1 of 66 in the series My Scrap Happy Project

Have you read The Happiness Project?
What are you waiting for? Seriously. You need to read this book.
I recently read The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. Rubin took on expert advice in order to improver her own happiness. I read this book not so much because I was looking to improve my own mood, but because I really enjoy the type of book where someone sets out to accomplish something and brings the reader along the way. I also enjoy nonfiction a bit more than fiction because I can easily set it down and pick it up a month later without forgetting what I have already read. Moreover, as a trained scientist, it is nice to read books by people who are not quite as concerned with making sure every aspect of their experiment is just perfect. For instance, in the beginning of Rubin’s book she talks about how there are dozens of definitions of happiness used by psychologists and other scientists. For the purposes of her book, she doesn’t really define happiness except to compare it to obscenity. In other words, you know it when you see it. I like this type of definition.

The book proceeds through a year of Rubin’s life. Each chapter of the book is devoted to one month of the year and each month of the year is devoted to a particular happiness goal. While I was reading the book, I kept thinking “Rubin should become a scrapbooker!” So many of the practices she was picking up and trying out are things that many scrapbookers are already doing. Though Rubin never becomes a scrapbooker, she definitely practices the spirit of scrapbooking–preserving and sharing her family stories. Let me tell you about a few of her goals.

Lighten Up
In April, her resolution was to “lighten up.” One way she did this was to “be a treasure house of happy memories” (p. 101). Here she talks about how she gained a new perspective on maintaining the family photo album. It is no longer the tedious task it once was because she now realizes how recalling happy memories boosts her current state of happiness. I agree whole-heartily. In my dissertation, I asked my respondents if they thought that scrapbookers were only preserving perfect memories. Among my respondents, few had truly unhappy memories and even those that did, often scrapbooked them. I have come to the conclusion that happy people are more likely to scrapbook and scrapbooking makes people happy.

Be Serious About Play
In May, her resolution was to “be serious about play.” To do this she decides to “go off the path.” She “started carrying a camera everywhere, to sharpen [her] eye” (p. 129)! Yes, just like many scrapbookers begin doing after they start scrapbooking! How many of you carry your camera everywhere? For her, the purpose was to sharpen her eye–to begin seeing things she normally overlooked or took for granted. For scrapbookers, the purpose is often to be prepared to catch scrapworthy moments–those moments that you are not anticipating as being scrapworthy.

Buy Some Happiness
In July, her resolution was to “buy some happiness.” One way she did this was to get professional photographs taken of her children. She states “the money I spent on the photographs will strengthen family bonds, enhance happy memories, and capture fleeting moments of childhood” (p. 172). Exactly. In this chapter, she also recounts how once she spent a great deal of time searching for a particular art supply so that she could do decoupage. She reminds readers that “merely spending money on an art supply won’t make it a priority. I have to decide to make time” (p. 177). Exactly. How many of us have bought scrapbook supplies that languish in their original packaging? If you want to scrapbook, you will make time for it. One reason in-store crops are so popular is that it is literally buying some time to scrapbook.

Scrap Happy
There were several other instances of Rubin integrating scrapbooking practices into her life without actually taking up scrapbooking in order to increase her happiness. The book has inspired me to do my own happiness project. I have decided to apply several of Rubin’s resolutions into my scrapbooking practice. Each Monday, I will post about my Scrap Happy project. I invite you to join me.

Though it is not crucial to have read The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, in order to participate, it might be useful. If nothing else, definitely check out Rubin’s blog about her happiness project.

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