“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” ~ William Butler Yeats
Unlike some of the philosophers and great minds throughout the ages, I do not believe the purpose or meaning of life is to seek or find happiness.
Rather, I see happiness as a product of living a meaningful life. By aligning our lives with our values, we also come to find happiness. In my case, I find it through deep personal connections, growing, and making a contribution. That’s not to say I don’t find happiness in the little pleasures of life as well.
In her bestselling book, “The Happiness Project,” Gretchen Rubin, discuses both the deep and meaningful aspects of finding happiness, as well as the small, everyday joys.
Have you ever thought to yourself, what am I really doing with my life?
This was the question that initially stirred “The Happiness Project” into being. Gretchen recalls, “One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life.”
Like many of us, she found herself suddenly aware of the fact that “this is my life – but I never give any thought to it.” Sound familiar?
Are you truly happy with your life?
“Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens. I wanted to be one of those people,” Gretchen noted. “I am happy – but I’m not as happy as I should be. I have such a good life, I want to appreciate it more – and live up to it better.”
Throughout that day, she continued digging deeper into these thoughts, and asking herself more questions.
“How could I set a higher standard for myself as a wife, a mother, a writer, a friend?” How could I let go of everyday annoyances to keep a larger, more transcendent perspective?”
She knew she couldn’t just let this go. Her life needed to change, so she began her happiness project.
So what exactly is a happiness project?
Gretchen describes it as “an approach to changing your life.” This doesn’t necessarily mean changing your life in big ways, but in small ways that can make a big difference.
The thing is, no two happiness projects will look exactly the same – your happiness project will be a reflection of who you are – your values, joy, quirks, and habits.
For instance, Henry David Thoreau’s move to Walden Pond worked for him. Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia worked for her. Robin Easton’s move to the Australian Rainforest worked for her.
What’s especially unique about Gretchen is she proved you don’t have to move across the world to learn, grow, and improve your life. You can start right here, right now.
As Gretchen stated, “I was an unadventurous soul, and I didn’t want to undertake that kind of extraordinary change…And more important, I didn’t want to reject my life. I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.”
So the very next day, Gretchen went to the library. She dove into researching her happiness project, leaving no stone unturned – from the great minds throughout the ages, to religious texts, to positive psychology, and even to pop culture.
Through her research, she discovered one of the most important elements to our happiness is social bonds. Accordingly, she resolved to tackle Marriage, Parenthood, and Friends, as part of her happiness project.
Perspective is another important aspect of happiness, so she added Eternity, Attitude, and Mindfulness. Her other resolutions included, Work, Play, and Passion.
Despite what many say, money does play a role in happiness; so she also included Money. Finally, she concluded that the foundation for success in all of these other areas is Energy.
Over the course of one year, Gretchen focused on each of these categories for one full month, leaving the last month for integrating it all into what she called, “Boot Camp Perfect Happiness.” To do this, she created a series of resolutions – specific and measurable actions to take.
Some were as easy as “keep a gratitude notebook.” Others were much more difficult, such as “Enjoy the fun of failure.”
Gretchen wrote about her progress, and still continues to write about happiness, on her blog, The Happiness Project. Over the course of a year, she made so many important discoveries about herself, about happiness, and about life in general. And yes, she did improve her happiness.
Her book is a treasure trove of great quotes, funny stories, and simple-but-wise insights, including:
“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.”
“What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.”
This book is all about discovering what truly matters to you and making small adjustments to your everyday life. It’s about slowly stretching your boundaries and growing to new heights – both of which can lead to greater happiness.
If you or someone you know could use some more happiness in your life, I highly recommend checking out Gretchen’s blog, reading her book, or better yet – listen to the audiobook, read by Gretchen herself (the route I chose)!
As a special thank you to my community, I am also giving away TWO copies of “The Happiness Project,” one of which is SIGNED by Gretchen Rubin!
I reserved the signed copy for members who were already subscribed to my mailing list, “The Full Experience.” If you’re interested in keeping up-to-date with my latest insights, receiving insider tips, and opportunities for free giveaways, I would love for you to join as well!
On Sunday, July 3rd, I will be selecting one more person to receive a free copy of “The Happiness Project.” If selected you can choose from either a kindle version or paperback from Amazon.com.
To subscribe, simply fill out the form below. I look forward to connecting with you!
Be wise. Live life!