Be Gretchen

Based on my brother’s recent blog post I went and looked at Gretchen Rubin’s 10 Commandments, hoping for a little inspiration. Of course each one of her commandments is linked to a blog post for more detail. For her first commandment, “Be Gretchen“, I got more than I was looking for:

But it also makes me sad because, in many ways, I wish I were different. One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” I have a lot of notions about what I wish I liked to do, of the subjects and occupations that I wish interested me. But it doesn’t matter what I wish I were like. I am Gretchen.

Then she naturally extends this thought:

And the Happiness Project makes me sad for another reason. Just as I must “Be Gretchen” and accept myself, strengths and weaknesses both, I must also accept everyone around me. This is most true of my immediate family.

She’s not saying that she can’t change. She’s saying that to be happy she has to accept who she (and they) are even if they don’t change. I don’t think she’s saying “stop trying to be better”. I think she just means that no matter how good we get ourselves to be, there is always going to be something we wish we were that is just out of our reach. And while accepting that can help us be happier, the fact that we much “settle” should make us sad just a little.

I think a lot of people, myself included, will be happier over-all once we learn that one concept: “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”