Monday, February 22, 2010

Happiness is hard work

A post on Jezebel today has really got me thinking. Why is happiness such hard work for some of us?

The Jez article cites two books, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I stumbled upon Rubin's site a little over a year ago (just in time to deal with my layoff) and her musings on happiness have been tremendously helpful. Most of her theories are no-brainer stuff: do good things for others, be mindful, exercise consistently, incorporate fun in your day, etc. But what has helped me most is the daily reminder to work on being happy. Because for me -- and I'm guessing millions of others since these books have gotten so much attention -- happiness is something I have to work on every single day.

Here's my daily formula: do some meaningful and productive work, do something enjoyable (take a walk, cook a new recipe, have lunch with a friend), do something nice for someone else (sometimes I just retweet someone or leave a nice comment on their blog or I spend an afternoon volunteering) and remember that I don't have to be perfect. It's that last one that's the killer.

Since I really began "working" on being happy I can say that I'm about 150% happier. (Of course, when I started this I had just come out of a trough of depression, so I had a really long way to go.) I'm curious about other people, though. Are you naturally a happy person? If not, do you work on finding happiness?


  1. Nice post-I like your reminders/suggestions. Am I a naturally happy person? I think remembering to feel grateful each day helps me get there on the days I'm not...and there are a lot of those days ;-).

  2. You have a great smile and an infectious laugh...good to hear those will be coming out more! :) I think I'm happy most days, but when I'm not I try to remember all the ways I'm fortunate (instead of all the ways I can have a little pity party). It's not always easy, but it sure is worth trying! So proud of you!!!

  3. Laura: Yes, remembering to feel grateful is crucial. That has helped me get through many just plain awful days.
    Rachel: You are one of the happiest people I know, and I know personally being around happy people makes ME happier. I need to come to Chattanooga more often! :)

  4. The weather is warming up...everything will be in bloom soon. Spring always makes me happy...come on up, but don't forget your WALKING shoes!!! :) Remember, this is NOT Italy...

  5. I try to follow three similar tenets (even though they don't always work.)
    1. Find the funny.
    2. Do something for someone else because there's always someone having a worse day than you.
    3. When all else fails, physical labor. I stole this from "Bruce Almighty," but sometimes all you can do is clean the floor.

  6. When everything is coming your way, you are in the wrong lane.............................................