Agree? “Sometimes, If You Want to Be Happy, You’ve Got to Run Away to Bath and Marry a Punk Rocker.”

“Sometimes, if you want to be happy, you’ve got to run away to Bath and marry a punk rocker. Sometimes you’ve got to dye your hair cobalt blue or wander remote islands in Sicily, or cook your way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, for no very good reason.”

–Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

I love all books about year-long projects in self-improvement, and I loved this book. (Side note: it’s surprising just how big this category is.)

Reading this passage reminded me of a post that I myself wrote several years ago — A Happiness Lesson from Julia Child? — which remains one of my favorite pieces of everything I’ve ever written. I wrote it as a response to reading Child’s wonderful memoir, My Life in France.

Here’s the final paragraph of that post:

“Julia Child’s love for French cooking was so contagious that even today, almost fifty years after she wrote her first cookbook, we still feel her influence. I’m not sure whether I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – but enthusiasm certainly helps. What a passionate life Julia Child led! And what a marvelous flavor she left behind.”

  • Mimi Gregor

    I, too, love this category of book. I read Julie and Julia and saw the movie. Of course, the master of this genre is A.J. Jacobs. He has such a winning way about him, I’d probably read anything he wrote. A book along these lines that I’ve read recently is “Give It Up: My Year of Learning to Live With Less” by Mary Carlomagno. Each month for a year, she gave up one thing (alcohol, chocolate, elevators) and assessed how she felt as a result. This inspired me to do my own version. If you have any recommendations, Gretchen, in this genre, please let us know what they are. I’m always looking for additions to my library list.

  • Susan Johnson

    agree with you and mimi, please let us know of other books like this.

  • blu_stocking

    I don’t disagree, but I think you have to at least mention the enormous privilege associated with being able to take on this kind of grand project. There are many people for whom this is impossible because of finances, family responsibility, health etc.

  • Jeanne

    Well isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result? If we want something different, we must make a change. Not necessarily running off and getting married. Sometimes even a small change can lead to a large result.

  • Agree. Take the chance, follow your impulse/curiosity. At the end of life, the regrets come more from not having followed one’s interests or passions rather than from staying safe. I also love that you posted this on August 12, which is Julia Child’s birthday-she would have been 105. Bon appetit!

  • Deirdre B Jayko

    Absolutely agree with the sentiment that trying new things and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone is critical to growth. However, I would caution against doing it only for the result of happiness. True fulfillment comes with the journey of changing, not simply the end result.