When I was recovering from postpartum depression, my sister introduced me to The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, by Sonja Lyubomirsky. The book describes the science behind happiness and explains how different things make different people happy. Rather than give a one-size-fits-all approach to happiness, the book has a lengthy multiple choice test. The test results identify the best activities to boost your personal happiness. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to be happy (and I recommend it to the martyrs as well - happiness is so much better than misery!)
I especially recommend this book to moms recovering from postpartum depression. When I was first diagnosed with PPD, I was too broken to do much of anything; but as the Zoloft kicked in and my energy returned, I was able to become more proactive about my recovery. Zoloft was a huge essential piece of this, but it could not heal me alone. I had to seek out activities that made me happy. PPD made me forget the things that make me happy; but The How of Happiness helped me remember what they are.
According to The How of Happiness, my "happy activities" are having goals and big projects, learning new things, and being physically active. The results could not have been more correct; but before I read this book and took its test, I could not have articulated these truths about myself.
The second half of The How of Happiness describes effective techniques to increase one's happiness, but you only read the chapters that apply to you - e.g. I read about setting goals, learning, and being physically active and then followed the advice in those chapters.
It was tough at first. Thanks to my bout of postpartum depression, and to our societal and cultural expectations about motherhood, I had become a martyr and thought I had forfeited the right to make my happiness a priority. I needed to be constantly entertaining Pippa and attending to her well-being. Now I know that in order to be the mom I want to be, I also have to take care of myself. Also, I'm discovering that the things that make me happy often make Pippa happy as well.
With that said, I have decided to use this blog to help boost my happiness even more. In addition to my love of learning, projects and physical activity, there is one other thing that makes me super happy: LISTS. Oh my god, I love lists! I have lists of places I want to visit, books to read, books I have read, museums I have visited, etc. etc. but the lists get lost or my computer crashes and eats them, and then I am so, so sad for my list.
So now I am going to start keeping my lists here! Woot woot! Time to start the first one...