What does it mean to be truly happy? Pretty loaded question, right? But if anyone can help us get closer to figuring it out it is Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of Happier at Home and The Happiness Project.
In a recent Office Hours chat, she admits that defining happiness is as complex as contract law (her former profession). Yet instead of thinking about what happiness means, people really should ask, “How can I be happier?”
“It’s not about a perfect definition of happiness,” she says. “It’s about being happy next week, next month, or next year, and thinking, ‘What can I be doing to move in the right direction?’” Gretchen says that happiness is absolutely attainable if you just let yourself accept what you really want.
Gretchen came up with her Happiness Project idea while sitting on a New York City bus. With nothing to distract her on the ride, she thought about what she wanted from life, and discovered what she really wanted was to be happy. But being happy doesn’t just happen. Gretchen started planning: “I wanted to figure out manageable things I could do in an ordinary day,” she shares. And so the Happiness Project was born.
Gretchen found a lot of things, easily within her reach, that didn’t take a lot of time, energy or money that could make her life happier. She suggests getting enough sleep, a little bit of daily exercise, and just making that darn bed in the morning as things that can make people just a little happier during the day.
Gretchen stresses that the most important thing for starting your own Happiness Project is thinking about what it means to be yourself. In fact, it’s advice she would give to her 23-year-old self if she could: “Don’t think about the version of you that will please people the most or what you feel like you ought to be,” she says. “Instead, think about who you are!”
“Knowing yourself is one of the most challenging things, but it helps structure your life in the happiest way,” she adds.
Be sure to watch the rest of this great Office Hours in the video below.
Photo courtesy of Standard