Gretchen Rubin: The Happiness Project
The author of the "New York Times" bestseller discusses how to be a happier person every day.
BY: Jennifer E. Jones
If you want to be happy (or happier), but don't know how, Gretchen Rubin knows how you feel. She went on a year-long quest for joy that she chronicled in her book, The Happiness Project. Beliefnet spoke with the author on how to find happiness in the middle of your everyday life.
You're a wife, mother, writer, Yale University graduate with a Juris Doctorate degree... Why start a project on happiness? You address this in your book that someone where you stand has a lot to be happy about already.
I didn’t start my happiness project from a place of unhappiness. I was pretty happy. I think that resonates with a lot of people. People feel happy, but they want to appreciate it more, live up to it and not take it for granted. It’s so easy in every day life to focus on the little annoyances instead of thinking about what a happy life you have. I was just on a bus in a moment where I thought, ‘What do I want from life?’ And I thought, ‘I want to be happy.’ I realized I didn’t spend any time thinking about happiness. So, I thought, ‘I should have a happiness project.’ And it came to me like that.
One of the most beautiful things I found about your book is that you didn’t change your surroundings. You didn’t do an Eat Pray Love thing where you travelled the world. Why did you decide to find happiness at home?
Part of it was just my nature. I wouldn’t want to do an adventure like that. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I have two little kids. I wanted to give myself the challenge of saying, ‘What can I do in my ordinary routine to make myself happier?’ Because I really felt like I could find things to do and I certainly did. A lot of people say, ‘I don’t have any extra time, money or energy.’ The thrilling thing I discovered about a happiness project is that you don’t really have to have extra time, money or energy. A lot of these things are just things you can do in your regular routine. You have to make yourself decide to do them, which takes some effort, but it’s not like you have to move across the country or radically change their life.
Explain the first commandment of your happiness project: “Be Gretchen”.
It’s funny, because what could be more obvious than to be yourself and know yourself? This is the most ancient piece of happiness wisdom. It’s on the temple of Apollo at Delphi: “Know thyself.” I realized that I didn’t always know myself or live my life according to my own nature. The more I thought, ‘How could I become Gretchen,’ the happier my life became. It began to reflect my interest, values, temperament much more closely.