The Happiness Project (in 168 Hours)

Posted by Erica Noonan  August 6, 2010 08:23 PM

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(Photo from left: Marisa Thalberg of Executive Moms, "168 Hours" author Laura Vanderkam, and "The Happiness Project" author Gretchen Rubin hanging out at BlogHer 2010 on Friday afernoon)


NEW YORK CITY -- There's nothing cooler than meeting people whose work you admire, and today at BlogHer 2010, just standing in a hallway like mere mortals or something, were of two of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin and Laura Vanderkam. (And, as it turns out, they were totally nice and friendly women, so it's impossible to hate them for being so successful.)

Gretchen Rubin has the New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project, and Laura Vanderkam just published 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

The Happiness Project, if you haven't read it, is a great step-by-step approach to thoughtfully considering your life. And 168 Hours examines the semi-revolutionary idea that we crazed moms actually have lots more time in a week than we think -- 168 hours to be exact.

It's where we spend it that shows what we really value in life. When we don't make time for something (working out, calling the in-laws, cleaning the house, baking bread, reading a bedtime story to the kids, etc.) it is because we have not made it a priority.

Saying we want to do something is not the same as ACTUALLY wanting to do something. And it's perfectly OK, she writes, to just accept that housecleaning or bedtime reading is just not a priority because some other, more important things are.

So stop feeling guilty already, and spend your time as you wish, not as you wish you wished.

Rubin and Vanderkam's books are often categorized under self-help, which can be a real turnoff for some people, so we all agreed the genre should really be called "self-helpful." Check 'em out if you haven't already.

(In case you are wondering, BlogHer is the nation's largest network of women bloggers, and its annual conference is in New York City this week.)

A friend -- a very egalitarian-minded guy --- asked me what gives with the whole Sisterhood of the Traveling Bloggers thing. Why do we need a special estrogen-based group? Why isn't there a BlogHIM? he asked.

Heck, Tim, I said. The whole darn Internet is BlogHim.

But he does have a point. Today, I was looking around wondering what the conference would be like as a mixed-gender gathering. (Men are actually quite welcome at BlogHer, they are just pretty scarce, so it's reasonable to call this a Girl Thing.)

It's kind of like working out at a women-only gym -- women are just more relaxed when guys aren't around. Maybe that isn't fair or progressive, but it seems to be true.

Would I have gone running up to Gretchen and Laura like they were long-lost sorority sisters if we'd been surrounded by a bunch of guys in suits and ties? Probably not.

Have you read The Happiness Project or 168 Hours? What did you think? Do you have any questions for authors Gretchen Rubin or Laura Vanderkamp? Leave a comment here, or follow me on twitter @ericanoonan

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about the author

Erica Noonan is chief of the Globe West bureau. Before joining the Globe in 2000, she worked for the Associated Press in Boston. Raised in Wellesley, she has a master's degree in political communication from Emerson College and a BA in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. She lives in Natick with two energetic children: Dennis, 6, and Lila, 4.

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