I was perhaps the last person on the face of the planet to read The Happiness Project.
Earlier this year, a friend connected me with Gretchen Rubin, which prompted her to interview me for her blog. After I spent some time exploring her archives, I realized I needed to learn more.
If you’ve read The Happiness Project, you know Gretchen balances ancient wisdom with contemporary research to create a personal roadmap for happiness that hinges upon everyday choices.
She spent a year test-driving various “resolutions” for joy in a methodical, measurable way, and chronicled her experiences both on her blog and in her book.
One thing that drew me to Gretchen’s work is her admission that she was not unhappy before—she simply felt she didn’t appreciate the things in her life that might otherwise have made her happier.
While we all have different challenges, I suspect this is something we can all relate to.
I’m excited that Gretchen took the time to answer a few questions, and also that’s offered to give away one copy of her 2012 Page-A-Day Happiness Project calendar.
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1. It’s been two years since you released your wildly popular book, The Happiness Project. Did you feel an increase or decline in your happiness after you stopped working on the book part of the project?
I still write every day about happiness—both for my daily blog, and for my next book, Happier at Home—so I’m deeply and happily immersed in the subject, and still making progress in making my life happier.
2. You shared a great deal about your life in your book, and you continue to do that on your blog. Are there certain parts of your life you’ve decided are off limits in your writing? If so, why?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to write a book about happiness that made someone I love unhappy, by feeling over-exposed. I don’t write about sex. I never criticize anyone but myself. However, the restrictions that I observe allow me plenty of room to explore the points I want to address, so I don’t feel constrained by them.
3. How does your blog affect your happiness—and what parts of blogging do you enjoy the most?
My blog has added hugely to my happiness. I love getting a little idea or interesting bit of information out there every day. I get a tremendous benefit from being in contact with engaged, thoughtful readers and bloggers. And creatively, it’s such a fun form! When I started, I never imagined that I would take to blogging, but now I can’t imagine life without it.
4. One thing I really enjoyed about your book is that you’re highly self-aware and honest about the things that impact your happiness (like the desire to get credit—or gold stars—when you do good things for people). Do you feel that self-awareness is integral to happiness?
I think self-knowledge is a KEY to happiness. We can build happy lives only on the foundation of our own natures, our own values, and our own interests. But without self-knowledge, it’s easy to create a life that doesn’t reflect those elements. It’s odd—you’d think that knowing yourself would be a very easy, obvious task, but it’s a tremendous challenge that lasts a lifetime.
5. You’ve written that The Happiness Project is aimed at “ordinary unhappiness,” not depression. How would you define “ordinary unhappiness”—and how common do you think it is?
I think many people feel that their lives could be happier than they are. A happiness project is an approach to making your life as happy as it can be, given your nature and your circumstances. Rather than worrying about defining “happiness” and “unhappiness” and deciding what categories fit, I think it’s helpful to think about striving to be happier.
6. What’s the main message you hope people take away from The Happiness Project, in print or online?
That it is possible to be happier, by taking small, manageable steps in our ordinary lives. Happiness is right here, right now.
7. You have a 2012 Happiness Project calendar coming out—and I’m excited to get my hands on one! What else is next for you?
Thanks! I had so much fun putting it together. My next book is coming out July 31, 2012. It’s called Happier at Home and is about a happiness project I undertook to focus on making my home happier. I started it last September (September—the new January) and worked through May to make my home more homey. I looked at issues such as possessions, time, marriage, parenthood, body, and neighborhood. It was such a joy to write this book.
FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site.