How Happy Are YOU?

Well, it’s not the best book I ever read, but I gave it a try when my book group recommended it.   And, among other reflections, I started thinking some things that relate to teaching and teachers, though it is NOT a professional book for teachers.

Gretchen Rubin writes about her 12 month project to feel happier in her life.  Although she felt she was happy enough with her job, husband, children and so on, she wanted to reach her full ‘happiness potential.’ It’s a bit of a twist on the typical self-help book.  The amount of research she has done was noticeable and interesting.

Each month was dedicated to a different topic — from getting rid of the clutter in her life to being more generous and kind to others to cutting down on her nagging and negative comments.  Many of the ideas were things I could relate to (and certainly use some improvement on), but others were not my cup of tea (I have no desire to write a novel in a month or start a collection.)  But the author states that each person’s happiness project would be different.

Her parenting chapters hit home for me as a teacher.  She worked on framing her statements in a more positive way which motivated her children to cooperate more and make better behavioral choices. Many of the scenarios were easily transferable to the classroom community.

But the real reason I’m mentioning this book is because it made me think of 3 types of teachers that I know:

1.) I have many teacher friends who are nearing retirement.  They are hesitant about leaving teaching because they fear not knowing what to do with their time. “I have no hobbies.” “I’m afraid I’d be bored.” “What would I do all day?”  This book could help.

2.) The other type of teacher is the one in the midst of her teaching career who gives so much time and effort to the job, there’s not much left for herself.  I know this feeling — of worrying so much about my students that it’s hard to let go and ‘have a life.’  These teachers have a hard time leaving the job at the schoolroom door.  I wish this book had been around when I was in that position and perhaps I would have been able to balance my job, home, and other parts of my life better.

3.)  The third type of teacher is the one that many of us have come in contact with at some point in our careers.  She/He is the complainer — “the students can’t do this… they can’t do that… they never…their parents don’t….” This book would definitely offer them some ideas of working on their negativity.

I’m interested in anyone’s opinion of this book or others you’d suggest.  I’m always looking for a good book recommendation.


  1. There’s a fourth type of teacher – the student – or in my case, the mature, part-time student who’s a bit like your type 2 in that I’m full of enthusiasm and drive for the profession but because I’m already a mum of two young children (2 and 5) I’m also trying to protect that other side of life and am already nervous about how to achieve that balancing act.
    Have you read Ken Robinson’s ‘The Element: How finding your passion changes everything’? It’s a sort of collection of mini-biographies illustrating how one can achieve happiness by identifying the thing they’re good at and pursuing it. Some people hate it, personally I loved it! Happy reading.

  2. I have read this book and I did/do find it helpful while feeling my way through the #2 scenario. I also follow her blog to give me a little boost when I forget to apply some of the things that I learned while reading the book. While it hasn’t “cured” me, it does help me to refocus and make some time to relax.

  3. I enjoyed Gretchen Rubin’s book and it did get me to thinking about how to increase happiness in my life, particularly in regards to teaching. I think the biggest thing for me was “do it.” I often spend time thinking about things that I want to do and not enough time just doing them.

    I have also read MWF Seeking BFF. The author spent a year trying to find a new best friend. Similarly to Gretchen’s Happiness Project, the author had friends but most lived far away. She was looking to increase her happiness by finding more friends- kinda expands into Gretchen’s idea about friendships making us happy.

    Oh, one more comment, I recently ran across a serious of video clips from a documentary about a teacher in Japan. What struck me the most was that his purpose for the class, for education- to be happy. It’s worth a watch: Children Full of Life

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