I remind myself to apply some key rules about being happy.

A review in the New York Times Book Review this weekend mentioned a “newly popular genre” that author Hugo Lindgren called “stunt nonfiction”–when the writer reads the whole encyclopedia or says yes to every date for a year.

Reading this threw me into a panic. Oh no, I’m part of a genre–and a “stunt genre” at that! It took me such a long time to decide how to write the Happiness Project, and now I discover that I’m part of a movement. How depressing.

And on top of that, I can’t even count the number of books on happiness that have hit the bookstores in the last year.

I felt defensive and anxious; I started imagining how imaginary future reviewers would attack the Happiness Project.

Then I remembered—this is not the way to happiness! I know better. Laugh out loud, make fun of myself, act the way I want to feel, re-frame.

So I said to myself, “How funny, I’m part of a movement without knowing it. I missed the dot-com boom, I don’t have an iPod, I don’t watch American Idol, but for once I’m tapped right into the zeitgeist. People are interested in happiness, they’re interested in other people’s experiences.”

I immediately felt a surge of relief.

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  • I think your Twelve Commandments are thought-provoking, worthwhile, and adaptable to any age or lifestyle. I not only missed the dot.com boom, don’t have an iPod, and don’t watch American Idol, but I only have a cell phone when I can find it – which means it is never charged. To these deficiencies(?), I can add, not having a clue what a TypeKey or TypePad account is. If I have one, I am not sure where I keep it. Your yet-to-be-published Commandments helped me: climb a mountain in Ireland when I turned 70; take a hot-air balloon ride over Berlin at age 71; started writing my second book at age 72; survive finding my obit in the paper at 73; come off all of my heart meds and take my first Harley ride on my 74th. Happiness is not just for the young! Neither is writing. Even though a self-appointed “authority” advised to find a new hobby, I forged ahead and published my first book at age 69, my second at age 74, and am working on my third. We should be considerate, but we do not have to live our life to please other people – least of all, book reviewers. We should glean what is worthwhile and discard what doesn’t apply. Keep doing you are doing and be happy about it. You Go, Girl! P. S. If I last another few weeks to greet age 75, I plan to have a shamrock tattooed on me bum.