This weekend, my sister Elizabeth and I went to the Podcast Movement conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Now that we’re doing our weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, how better to embrace our podcaster identity than to go to a conference?
We had a great time, and it made me happier, for several reasons.
1. Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: relationships make people happy, so anything that widens our relationships tends to boost happiness. Elizabeth and I met a bunch of fun new people this weekend.
2. Likewise, anything that deepens relationships tends to boost our happiness. Having a fun sisterly weekend adventure brought me closer to Elizabeth, and we also got to spend time with the terrific Panoply team.
3. As the First Splendid Truth of Happiness explains, a key element of a happy life is a sense of growth — of learning, of fixing something, of helping someone, of creating something, of improving something. I learned a tremendous amount during the weekend, so I got the sense of growth.
4. Novelty and challenge boost happiness. This is hard for me to remember — I’m naturally attracted to familiarity and mastery, and I really have to talk myself into doing new things. But even for a creature of habit like me, novelty does boost happiness. I was really energized by the new experience.
5. We’re happier when we have many sides to our identity. Maybe you get fired, and that’s a blow to your identity, but you think, “Everyone in the PTA likes and respects me.” That’s comforting. Professionally, I’m a “writer”: when I became a “blogger,” I got a big happiness boost, and now becoming a “podcaster” is giving me another boost.
Bonus happiness boost: Elizabeth made t-shirts with our “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” logo. Corny but fun.
Working on my three books about happiness — The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before — has really helped me to analyze a situation according to its likely happiness effect. In the past, I might’ve thought, “Nah, why go to the conference? All that bother and expense and inconvenience, for such a short trip.” Now I look at that kind of decision in a very different way.
How about you? When you’re deciding whether or not to do something, do you explicitly consider the effect it will have on your happiness?