My lovely flatmate decided to start a book club and I’m soooo excited because in my 28-years of existence, I have never ever been in a book club! As much as I love reading, the closest thing to a book club I’ve ever encountered was called the high school curriculum. The first book we have chosen is The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin (when I say we chose, I actually meant she, the dictator flatmate, chose). I’ve only gotten through the first chapter/introduction so far but I’ve already decided that I will most likely enjoy this book very much.
In the introduction, Gretchin Rubin explains why she decided to take on this happiness project, did a bunch of research on what happiness means, her concerns for it, and a very systematic methodology of how she was going to achieve this. One of her worries about her project resonated with a question I had in my mind some time ago -
“Was it supremely self-centered to spend so much effort on my own happiness?”
That was a question that came to mind often in the past year. In 2010, I had my own business. I was making enough to buy whatever I wanted whenever I went shopping. I was surrounded by friends and family who love me. I wasn’t depressed. Yet something inside kept telling me that I needed to make a change in my life, and I did, a big change.
Was my decision to leave everything behind to “find myself” a selfish choice? Perhaps I was just an ungrateful little brat who just need to learn to appreciate.
But no. Whilst every now and then I still wonder if maybe I am a little bit self-centered, I know there is nothing more important than my own happiness. Why do we doubt that there are more important things than our own happiness? This is our lives. This here, right here, right now. This is it. If I am not happy, how could I possibly fill the spaces around me with happiness? How could I possibly fill the people around me with happiness? And according to Gretchin Rubin, there is research which “shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens.”
If that’s the case, hell yeah I want to be one of those people! So call me self-centered all you want.
The other thing that this self-centered issue reminded me of was yoga. In yoga, just about everything we do is about ourselves. We are always concentrating on ourselves, and on within, trying to connect with the inner true self. I remember going to a yoga class where the teacher said that some people think yogis are pretty selfish, and it’s kind of true since we are only focused on ourselves! But if focusing on yourself means you’ll be a better person to be around, it’s kind of a win-win situation, no?