Coffee, God, and a Little Happiness

I went to another independent coffee shop and had a better experience.  The latte was more money and the mug was chipped but in a homey, cozy kind of way.  But, I liked it better than my last experience.  Elijah's Coffee and Tea in Elmhurst is a good nook.  Elijah's is named after the prophet himself in honor of God providing Elijah with a sanctuary to rest. Starbucks calls it the third space -- the place between home and work.  Reading websites in the spirit of Elijah seems a bit more sacred to me - and makes those chips in the mug unassumingly comforting.

While at the coffee shop, I brought along the book I'm reading, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  First, the cover design sends the message that the writing would be no where near the level of intelligence it actually is.  Second, the author writes for a living and writes about how much she reads.  I cannot fathom reading the pace she reads.  Third, at first, I really liked her observations and how she is sharing her journey, month by month, about how she made a purposeful effort to become happier in her daily life.  It's timely that it reminds me of St. Ignatius Loyola's (the founder of the Jesuits and the order of Pope Francis I) spiritual exercises in everyday life.  Both embody the notion of making a difference in one's life without a drastic change but finding how to be happier (Rubin) or more connected to God (St. Ignatius) within the daily fabric of life.  Both approaches can be of service to others, oddly enough.  Being happy makes others happy and being at peace brings God's peace to others.

And, now, for my fourth point about the book.  I'm now near the end but she is really starting to annoy me.  Within her honesty, I can see that she is really getting down and dirty looking at her own selfishness.  Rubin claims to be a "topper," the person in the conversation who wants to either rebuke the last comment in a conversation or offer a bigger, better story.  She says her normal state of being is as a pessimist, looking to be critical. Now, I'm not sure if I'm annoyed with this because I see these qualities in myself or if I find that so self-serving that it repels me.  Maybe both.

So, even though, I am partly annoyed with the author, I have found myself doing a few of the things she did to incorporate more happiness into everyday life.  She chilled out with her kids and became more playful.  If they were making google-y eyes with the tangerines they just bought from the grocery story, she didn't push them to stop it and put the fruit away.  If my kid needs to make sure Rocket makes his last trip around the living room before her coat goes on, so be it.  We'll get where we need to be eventually.

Also, Rubin talks about incorporating more laughter.  I might be using her as an excuse here but after all were in bed in my house last night, I watched the You Tube videos of Jimmy Kimmel's challenge to have parents prank their kids.  He has parents give a lousy Christmas present -- like a half-eaten sandwich -- a week before the holiday or has the parents tell their children they ate all the Halloween candy while they were sleeping.  Now, this does seem totally mean.  And, I'm surprised I enjoy it as much as I did.  But, com'on, these kids' reactions are hilarious!  And, there was even a sweet moment or two.  A little girl tells her mom it's okay and next Halloween they will share the candy.  Awe.

My "relationship" with Rubin's book is similar to what I think blogs, pinterest, etc. can do.  I may not even know the person writing a blog or posting a pin and, if I do learn about them, I may not even like them.  Yet, I may pick and choose a few things to incorporate into my own life.  And, in doing so, I guess I do like the blogger or the pin-poster.  I'm showing them respect for what they are sharing and giving it a classic thumbs-up by giving it some thought for my own life.

Okay, I'm off to finish Rubin's book.  Despite annoying me, I know I will feel quite happy when I'm done with it.

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