I have to admit, I love every book I’ve ever written. A writer friend said to me in a commiserating tone, “Don’t you hate looking back at your books? I do!” and I thought, “No, I’m my own biggest fan! I love my books.”
These days, there’s quite an emphasis on appreciating the animal side of human nature. We’re cautioned to respect the power of our lizard brain, and to consider how we respond to stimuli in an instinctual way. We should train ourselves like a dog to improve our habits, say.
My spiritual master is St. Therese of Lisieux, so when a thoughtful reader emailed me about Heather King’s 2011 memoir, Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux, I was thrilled—and astounded that I hadn’t heard about it yet.
I have a very tough time being criticized, corrected, or accused—of even the smallest mistakes—and I react very angrily. I’ve wrestled this instinct under control in a professional context, more or less, but I have more trouble with it at home.
My favorite thing to do is to read. In fact, reading and writing are practically the only activities I truly love. Which is a bit sad, but true. Because I love reading so much, nothing makes me happier than recommending terrific books—so I’m starting a book club.
So much of my Happiness Project is aimed at helping me curb my very strong tendency to “talk in a mean voice” or “make a mean face” (which is how my daughters refer to this behavior). In a flash of irritation or anger, I snarl at my sweet daughters or my good-natured husband.
A feeling of energy is a key to feeling happy. Studies show that when you feel energetic, you feel much better about yourself. On the other hand, when you feel exhausted, tasks that would ordinarily make you happy—like putting up holiday decorations, getting ready to go to a party, or planning a trip—make you feel overwhelmed and blue.
One of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm. Clutter seems like a trivial matter, but I always find that I feel more serene and cheerful if my apartment and office aren’t too messy.
Writer Jean Stafford scoffed, “Happy people don’t need to have fun,” but in fact, studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you feel good; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.