Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for the Happiness Project


In a time and culture when anti-depressants are dispensed like Chicklets (wait – does anyone remember Chicklets? Do they still make them? Or dispense them? Anyway…) it seems that happiness is an elusive commodity. Countless books, studies, experiments, and papers have examined the ins and outs of how to be happy.

Was it always such a tricky thing?

Well, no. And yes. Perhaps we’ve not always been so concerned about whether we feel as happy as we think we deserve to feel (got that?), but happiness has been a subject of consideration by everyone from Aristotle to Charlie Sheen (okay, I don’t know about that last one – pick your own up-to-date icon at will).

Gretchen Rubin studied what they – as well as plenty of modern experts and scientists – had to say during the experimental year of her Happiness Project. She chronicled that year in a New York Times bestseller which you’ve probably already heard about. The paperback version was recently released. I heard about the book on NPR, but really discovered Rubin’s work through her Happiness Project Blog.

Her conclusions are anything but esoteric. Most are practical suggestions for how to manage modern life. Reduce your clutter. Be yourself. Stay in touch with friends. Let go of stuff that doesn’t matter. Do the things you usually avoid, and you’ll feel more content. Treating yourself doesn’t always feel great in the long run. Get some exercise.

From what I can tell from following her blog, happiness comes in large part from acting like an adult most (though perhaps not all) of the time. It’s not about self-indulgence so much as being kind to others. Paying attention and being grateful.

There’s a huge wealth of information on her site, and I love how much of it is inspirational while at the same time being utterly practical. And if you want to pursue your own Happiness Project you can jump right in at any point.

Oh, and that picture above? It’s there just because it makes me smile. Hope it does the same for you.


  1. I find it's the simple little things that make me happy. I mean, some big stuff too, but overall, it;s the small things that make a life. A hot bath, a good book, a cup of coffee with a friend. These are the everyday happinesses which make up a lifetime.

  2. That picture DID make me smile. And the Happiness Project sounds very practical and doable. It's mostly common sense though, isn't it? :)

  3. Simple little things and common sense -- I agree with you both!

  4. I read Rubin's book about a year ago, I think, and was so fascinated by it I re-read it as soon as I'd finished it. From time to time I consider doing my own happiness project, but then life (which generally makes me pretty happy) happens and I forget about it. :)

    Are you familiar with 1000 Awesome Things ( I don't read every day, but when I need a reminder to appreciate the little things, I head over there and see what's awesome today.