“It Is Hard, So Terribly Hard, To Please Yourself.”

“It is hard, so terribly hard, to please yourself. Far from being the easy thing that it sounds like, it is almost the hardest thing in the world, because we are not always comfortable with that true self that lies deep within us.”
— Christopher Alexander, The Luminous Ground: The Nature of Order, Book 4

* After telling some friends how much I love the site TV Tropes, I spent a long time cruising around there today.

* Is your book group reading The Happiness Project? (I know a lot of groups were waiting for the paperback release.) I’ve prepared a one-page discussion guide for book groups, as well as a guide tailored for church groups, prayer circles, spirituality book groups, and the like. If you’d like either discussion guide (or both), email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com. (Don’t forget the “1.”)

  • Careful, there. TVTropes will ruin your life!

  • MoreBadAmazonReviews

    Your more recent amazon reviews are hilarious!

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, but no soul, April 24, 2011
    By back to the garden (Sebastopol) – See all my reviews
    This review is from: 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 (Hardcover)
    I hate to be cranky about reviewing a book on happiness, but there was something off-putting about this book from the beginning. A testimonial on her web site compares it with the Dalai Lama’s and Elizabeth Gilbert’s books, which offends me, because I love them both and this seemed soulless in comparison… I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wouldn’t like the author much in person. The concept is valuable for sure, so maybe I’m just not happy enough to love it. Maybe if I hadn’t already read a lot of deep stuff I’d like it, if it was my first foray into the topic of fulfillment. I just didn’t feel any joy or transforming thought emanating – it seemed such a practical exercise, an excuse to do a research project and publish a book on a current popular topic. I guess I’d have to give her high points for researching previous writers on the subject, but a low score for real insight and having/expressing feelings. It seemed rather clinical, and I found it odd to read a book about happiness and not be moved by it.

    • gretchenrubin

      You keep re-posting other people’s Amazon reviews. Why don’t you read the
      book yourself, and form your own opinion? Though clearly my book doesn’t
      appeal to you — read a different book about happiness! There are so many
      wonderful books on the subject of happiness. No one book satisfies every
      reader. There’s a book out there that you will love, if you look for it.

      • Nadine

        I too have read a multitude of the “deep stuff” whatever that might be and your book, and I am not just saying this was truly the only one that made me actually pull up my socks and change my life. Why? Because it was practical, honest and spoke to me. I was well aware that my life was passing me by years before it was published but just didn’t know how to go about changing that and your book really helped me with that.

    • Dianamkio

      I have often found that people who review things poorly do so because they are unhappy with themselves. I appreciate the work you have put into this project, Gretchen. We have only one life to live and a finite number of days to enjoy. I have read your book and it has made a difference for me. I found the book to be quite “deep”. Thank you!!!

  • better to please oneself than others.

  • Peninith1

    Ah, the inner critic–such an important voice to attend. When I am writing, especially poetry or in any way to try to get at my own truth and express it to others, I find it MOST important to listen intently for the note of self pity, the cleverness that is a cheap shot, the vividness that is self-dramatization and not the stuff of life, the simile that fails to be apt, the cliche, the unfit metaphor. In my quilting, I look for the careless passages of stitching, the seams that are not precisely a 1/4 inch, the corners not square, the points blunted by a crossing seam. You start best by letting others lead and show you the way, and as you start to gain mastery of your art, you become one of the handiest at trimming your own sails. Now as to those self-hating monologues that go on in one’s head, childhood voices that live longer than the life they deserve, they are not the inner critic, but the ingested harridans and tyrants of the soul. The inner critic has a duty to answer them truthfully and sharply as well. We do not fall short of the mark all the time, and we deserve our own praise when we meet it.

    • Nadine

      I cannot tell you hoe helpful this was for me today. Thanks

    • Nadine

      Sigh I meant how not hoe

  • I appreciate the work you have put into this project, Gretchen. We have
    only one life to live and a finite number of days to enjoy. I have
    read your book and it has made a difference for me.

  • I think the reason it is hardest to please ourselves is because of the lack of honesty. Who readily admits that she likes reading trashy novels? or People magazine? or eating Cheetohs? So, we try to convince ourselves that we are smarter, healthier, wiser and better than we really are, and then we end up doing things we don’t truly enjoy.

    Me? I believe in eating chocolate chips without bothering to make the cookies! Happy, happy, happy!