Blog Posts by Gretchen Rubin

  • The Key to Happiness: Know Yourself


    2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year -- and even if you haven't officially signed up for the challenge -- welcome!

    For the last month of this year, instead of tackling a theme, I'm going to discuss a question: What is the key to happiness? That's a question that can be answered in different ways, depending on what framework you use to address the issue of happiness. The resolution for each week will reflect that week's answer.

    Last week's answer was to Cultivate strong relationships. This week's answer is to Know yourself.

    Know yourself.


    It's a little hard to see what I'm holding in my hand. That's a mirror.

    If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
    Self-knowledge: Identify your patron saints.
    Do what you do.
    Recognize your tell.

    What do you think? Is self-knowledge the key to happiness? Do you find it hard to know yourself? I'm constantly amazed by how

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  • Which 'Love Language' Suits You? and Your Partner?


    I-love-youI-love-you

    Over the weekend, I read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages, and I found it fascinating. (I have to confess: the book caught my attention because it's always clustered near, and above, The Happiness Project on the New York Times bestseller list.)

    One of the tensions within happiness, for me, is that I'm both more like other people than I suppose, and less like other people than I suppose. For instance, I thought I was the only person who struggled to spend out, but now I realize that many people feel this, too. Same with drift. I'd suffered from drift in my life, but I didn't realize how many others had also found themselves drifting.

    On the other hand, it's easy to assume that other people are like me, when they really aren't. Until I understood the abstainer/moderator split, I couldn't understand why moderators didn't just give up their temptations cold turkey. Or why Eeyores clung so tightly to their worldview.

    The Five Love Languages argues that people express

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  • "Catalogs. Don't Look at 'Em. Big Time Suck."


    CorriganCorrigan

    Happiness interview: Kelly Corrigan.

    Kelly Corrigan is a writer well-known for her books, The Middle Place and Lift, and also from her YouTube video, Transcending, which has been viewed more than 4.75 million times.

    She writes a lot about the challenges of life, small and large-from ordinary, day-to-day issues to major challenges such as her fight with cancer. I was very interested to hear her thoughts on happiness.

    Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
    Kelly: Walking outside, preferably with my dog, ideally with the dog and a friend.

    What's something you know now about happiness that you didn't know when you were 18 years old?
    It comes, it goes, it comes back.

    Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
    Eating and drinking too much. Short term highs vs. long term satisfaction-still tricky for me.

    Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found very

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  • The Key to Happiness: Strong Relationships


    2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year -- and even if you haven't officially signed up for the challenge -- welcome! Last month's theme was Gratitude, and last week's resolution was to Remember the dog that doesn't bark. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

    For the last month of this year, instead of tackling a theme, I'm going to discuss a question: What is the key to happiness? That's a question that can be answered in different ways, depending on what framework you use to address the issue of happiness. The resolution for each week will reflect that week's answer.

    This week's answer to the question, "What is the key to happiness?" is: Strong relationships.

    Build Strong Relationships(1)


    If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
    8 tips for maintaining friendships.
    Bob Dylan helps me recognize a paradox of happiness.
    8 tips for making friends.

    Read More »from The Key to Happiness: Strong Relationships
  • 7 Happiness Theories I Reject


    RejectedRejected

    As audacious as it may seem to contradict venerable figures such as John Stuart Mill, Flaubert, or Sartre, I disagree with some of their views about the nature of happiness.

    Flaubert: "To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless." I argue that this is Happiness Myth No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid.

    Vauvenargues: "There are men who are happy without knowing it." Heartily disagree. My Fourth Splendid Truth is "I'm not happy unless I think I'm happy." Or as Eugene Delacroix wrote, "He was like a man owning a piece of ground in which, unknown to himself, a treasure lay buried. You would not call such a man rich, neither would I call happy the man who is so without realizing it."

    Eric Hoffer: "The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."

    Sartre: "Hell is other people." [Actually, hell is other people, but heaven is other people,

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  • Don't Fall into "Decision Quicksand"


    QuicksandQuicksand

    I'm always gratified when I learn that one of my Secrets of Adulthood reflects not merely my idiosyncratic experience, but also has some science behind it.

    For instance, one of my Secrets of Adulthood is: Most decisions don't require extensive research.

    I came up with this Secret of Adulthood to remind myself not to squander my time and energy on decisions that don't matter very much.

    Over the weekend, I read a short piece about a study that showed that "Decisions that are complicated but trivial...cause an inordinate amount of wasted time and unhappiness." The researchers call this "decision quicksand" because we can get sucked in, and drown, in these trivial choices.

    Surprisingly often, I need to remind myself not to spend too much time on relatively unimportant decisions. Even though I don't want to spend my time and energy this way, it takes a considerable amount of self-awareness and self-control to resist the temptation.

    The satisficer/maximizer split

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  • The Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness


    EightEightIn my study of happiness, I've labored to identify its fundamental principles. Because I get a tremendous kick out of the numbered lists that pop up throughout Buddhism (the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the eight auspicious symbols), I decided to dub these fundamental principles as my Eight Splendid Truths.

    Each one of these truths sounds fairly obvious and straightforward, but each was the product of tremendous thought. Take the Second Splendid Truth-it's hard to exaggerate the clarity I gained when I finally managed to put it into words. Here they are:

    First Splendid Truth
    To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

    Second Splendid Truth
    One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
    One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

    Third Splendid Truth
    The days are long, but the years are short. (Click

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  • What's Your "Pigeon of Discontent"?

    PigeonPigeon

    For the past few years, for the weekly video as part of the Happiness Challenge, I've proposed a resolution for your consideration-some concrete, manageable resolution to boost your happiness (at least, one that has boosted my happiness).

    As I mentioned several weeks ago, I've been thinking about changing the format of the videos for 2012, and now I've decided that I will. Instead of proposing resolutions for you to consider as part of your own happiness project, I'm going to discuss "Pigeons of Discontent."

    Because, as much as we try to follow the Bluebird of Happiness, we're also plagued by the Pigeon of Discontent. A Pigeon of Discontent isn't a major happiness challenge, but rather, an ordinary problem that has settled into roost. For example: you never make it to the gym; you bicker with your kids each morning; your closet is a mess; you haven't had time to read a book in months. The Happiness Challenge for 2012 will be the identification of these Pigeons, and the

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  • Self-Knowledge: Identify Your Patron Saints


    ThereseThereseSelf-knowledge is crucial to happiness, but it's challenging to know yourself. Sometimes, I find, I can gain insight by asking myself questions that make me take stock of my interests and values.

    For that reason, I asked myself, "Who are my patron saints? Of my Happiness Project, in particular, and for myself generally?" (A "patron saint" is a saint who has a special connection to a person, place, profession, or activity, or in more casual terms, a person who serves as a particular leader or example.)

    Here are my six patron saints:

    Benjamin Franklin: practical, curious, inventive.

    St. Therese of Lisieux: showing great love through small, ordinary actions.

    Samuel Johnson: wildly eccentric, with a deep understanding of human nature.

    Julia Child: goofy yet masterly; light-hearted yet authoritative.

    Winston Churchill: indefatigable, indomitable.

    Virginia Woolf: intensely attuned to the power of the passing moment.

    Well, Julia Child and Winston

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  • Why "Twilight" Inspired Me to Do Better with My Resolutions


    Play-chessPlay-chess

    Assay: I'm a huge fan of Twilight (books and movies)-a fact about myself that continues to fascinate and puzzle me. Last night, I went to see the fourth movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, which inspired me to look back at a post I wrote two years ago. I really love that post, so here it is again.

    *
    Following my resolution to Enter into other people's interests, last week I watched the movie Twilight with my older daughter. This wasn't a sacrifice for me; I love Stephenie Meyer's books (oh, how I love children's and young-adult literature), so I was curious to see the movie.

    I found the movie interesting for many reasons not relevant here (other than to say I'm thinking about Jung generally, Frazier's The Golden Bough, and George Orwell's discussion of "good bad poetry" in his essay, "Rudyard Kipling"), but in particular, I loved the depiction of wordless, instantaneous, passionate love.

    Many of my happiness-project resolutions are meant to help me be more

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