Sex and the City, the movie, comes right to my neighborhood — and brings a little happiness.

How fabulous. Some scenes from the Sex and the City movie are being filmed in my neighborhood today.

The special “No Parking” notices went up a few days ago; they coyly said only “Untitled Movie,” but I suspected the movie was Sex and the City. When I came outside this morning, and confronted a fleet of Haddad’s trucks, I asked a woman with an earpiece, “What movie are they filming?”

“I really can’t tell you,” she answered, “but if you live right here, you’ll probably figure it out.”

A little later, I asked a neighborhood authority—a doorman. “Do you know what’s going on? What are they making?”

“Sex and the City,” he answered with customary doorman omniscience.

I’m getting a big kick out of seeing all the hubbub, and I asked myself–why? What happiness buttons are being pushed?

First, though this may sound surprising, it’s always engaging to watch other people at work. How they organize themselves, what the stages of the work are, how the people interact, the tools they use – it’s always interesting. For instance, the big movie trucks always have a set of doors marked “Lucy” and “Desi,” which I assume are bathrooms. But maybe not. Interesting.

Second, it created a nice neighborly feeling. Because other people were curious, I got curious. Like a lemming, or a nervous gazelle, when I saw the crowd of people staring up the block, I had to join them. Then we all chatted together.

Third, seeing the movie being made right near my house gave me a sense of the theatricality of everyday life. Suddenly, the mundane streets that I walk through many times each day seemed glamorous and exotic.

My friend Marci Alboher just launched a terrific new New York Times blog, Shifting Careers, that highlights new ways of thinking about career choices and work. I was very happy to be included in her debut post, about Getting Happier, in Work and in Life.

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Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Ella

    Do you think you would have gotten a charge out of this before you started your happiness project? I ask because the Haddad’s trucks generally irritate me when they appear near my home or office, as they do pretty regularly — they stall traffic and the crowds slow down pedestrians. But maybe my crochety reaction just means I should be working harder on my happiness resolutions!
    Btw, I had occasion to refer to the fundamental attribution error today: a junior colleague expressed his fear that a senior colleague had decided, sometime over the past year, that he didn’t like him. Junior guy didn’t know that senior guy has had a horrible year for reasons entirely unrelated to work. I felt unusually intellectual when I trotted out that very apt phrase — which made me happy!

  • I cannot for the life of me figure out how I stumbled upon your site (and no, it wasn’t StumbleUpon) but I’m so glad I did–I happily read Power Money Sex Fame (hell, I was living in LA at the time–it should have been required reading for anyone who entered the city without a return ticket)–and read about the bios (I think I had children by the time those were published) –but the point is, I’ve followed your writing with delight and love this new project. I suppose I embarked on my own version of the HP last year when my husband and I decided to bail on L.A. and move to a small farm in upstate NY (a farm in name, not so much in activity, though I do have chickens, and they do make me happy. I hope they will also, soon, make me eggs.) Anyway, I remember you very fondly from Yale and love following your progress on this journey. I must say that the most profound insight I have yet read her is perhaps the simplest, i.e., your first commandment “Be Gretchen.” This is the whole thing, at least for me, the difficult work of being true to your own deeply held vision of yourself…and I also love your identification the whole “attribution error” phenomenon, which is so, so , so common. Anyway, thank you!

  • Nope, I do NOT think I would have gotten a kick out of the Haddad’s trucks a few years ago — re-framing really does work. “I LOVE Haddad’s trucks!” And I know, it’s so satisfying to learn a new term that allows you to perceive the world in a more accurate way. I remember the satisfaction in law school of learning about “unjust enrichment” and “detrimental reliance.” Once you know these terms, you see them happening everywhere.
    And hello Paige Smith! Zoikes, from LA to an upstate farm, with chickens! I can’t wait to hear the story of that journey — an excellent happiness project. Everyone should have a happiness project, that’s clear.
    I’m glad that you agree that the first commandment is at the heart of happiness. I’ve really come to see that, too. And the other absolutely critical commandment is “There is only love.” On these two commandments, for me, hang everything else.

  • Wow… I must say that this website, this “Project” is truly one of the neatest and most inspired things that I’ve come across yet!
    As a young girl, I was a very negative person; after all, I had much to negative about. Until one day, I noticed the difference between two little old ladies I knew (one being a pessimist and the other an optimist). The pessimist was always upset about something and it showed in her face, her voice, everything about her. And the same with the optimist, her countenance was just so bright and happy. I realized then what road I wanted to take. I suppose that was my own persuit of happiness. And since then, I’ve surrounded myself with happier people and helped others to find the brighter side of life. After all, I had a lot to be happy about… and a lot of work to do to change the rest!
    Years later, I find myself happily married to the best man I’ve ever known, raising two awesome baby boys, and persuing both of our dream careers! Happiness is truly a state of mind!
    Never would I have imagined something so simple to become something so awesome like this webpage and way of life you have created! Keep up this awesome work of yours… I look forward to it!
    ps Kudos on the quotes… i LOVE quotes!