9 Tips for Why Starting a Happiness-Project Group Will Boost Your Happiness.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 9 reasons why starting a happiness-project group will boost your happiness.

A few days ago, I posted about happiness-project groups — for people who want to launch or join a group for people doing happiness projects together. My new and improved starter kit is ready, for those who are interested (just email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com if you want a copy).

If you’re wondering whether being a part of such a group would indeed boost your happiness, I believe the answer is yes: in two ways.

First, making and keeping a happiness-related resolution will make you happier. Feeling in better control of our circumstances, cultivating an atmosphere of growth, making an effort to ensure that our lives reflect our values — these steps will make you happier, and a happiness-project group will help you accomplish this.

Second, wholly apart from the purpose of the group, just being part of a new group will make you happier. Meeting new people, pushing yourself in a new direction, being part of something — these aspects of a happiness-project group will boost your happiness, as well.

Specifically:
1. Being part of a group will help you feel accountable for keeping your resolutions, which is why people join groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous. You’re much more likely to stick to a difficult resolution if you know you’ll be asked to report on your progress — or lack of progress.

2. Research shows that when you commit to a regular, ritualized form of connection, you’re more apt to stay in touch with people. Being part of a group that meets regularly helps solidify relationships.

3. Socializing individually is more intimate, but socializing in a group also carries benefits. I’m a member of many groups, and in my groups, different members have pulled in their friends, and through this, I’ve made new friends. In a phenomenon called “triadic closure,” people tend to befriend the friends of their friends – and this is very satisfying. Also, it’s easier to maintain friendships in a network than to maintain a lot of “one-off” friendships.

4. Everyone, even introverts, get a boost of happiness and energy when they interact with other people. Also, people enjoy almost all activities more when others are involved.

5. Having lots of close relationships makes it far more likely that people describe themselves as “very happy.”

6. If you feel the way I did, you may feel like you’re making the same resolutions, without any progress, year after year. In a group, you can share ideas and encouragement. You may discover a solution you never considered, or get energy from the knowledge that other people share the same difficulties.

7. For happiness, it’s important to get support – but just as important to give support. As a group member, you’ll be able to help other people to make progress in their lives, and that will give you an enormous happiness boost.

8. In the tumult of everyday life, it can be hard to take the time to think about the things that really matter. By setting aside this time for deliberation, you can make sure that your life reflect your values.

9. Being part of a group is fun! Fun may sound trivial, but it’s not. People who report regularly having fun are much more likely to describe themselves as very happy.

Some people believe that it’s selfish to want to be happier. I disagree. I explain my reasoning here, Happiness Myth #10: The biggest myth–it’s selfish to want to be happier, but that post can be summarized in the Second Splendid Truth:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

The epigraph to the book The Happiness Project is a quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Joining a group to make the effort to address your own happiness will better equip you to turn outward, to make other people happy, as well.

Good luck!

* I just found Bakadesuyo, which describes itself as “just the interesting stuff,” and there really is a bunch of very interesting stuff there. I spent waaaaay too much time poking around.

* If you’d like a copy of the new and improved starter kit, for launching a group for people doing happiness projects together, email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. Just write “starter kit” in the subject line. If you want to start your own individual happiness project, apart from a group (which is how I did my project), look here for some ideas about getting started.

  • Charu

    Dear Gretchen,
    I read the book on happiness project from page to page. It’s my favorite book. Your honesty and generosity are refreshing. Your theory and ideas resonate with me. Thanks for this book!
    Can I also request your comic “Gretchen Rubin and the Quest for a Passion”?
    Fan for life!
    C

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much! I’m thrilled to hear that the book resonates with you. The
      comic is on its way.

  • BerniceWood

    I can see how this would help one to become happier. You can always improve your life by helping others! I may have to look into this!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/pruning-away-to-be-more/

  • jenny_o

    “4. Everyone, even introverts, get a boost of happiness and energy when they interact with other people. Also, people enjoy almost all activities more when others are involved.”

    Have you found research to support this? I know some introverted people who feel sapped and spent when they interact with other people, as a general rule. I’d be interested in anything you’ve found on this. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      I know, that’s surprising, right?

      A friend of mine has a book about introversion that’s coming out in several
      months, and I told her I couldn’t wait to read her discussion of exactly
      this question. So look for Susan Cain’s QUIET when it hits the shelves. I
      plan to interview her on EXACTLY this point because I think it’s so
      interesting.

      Also see Diener and Seligman, “Beyond Money”, at 18; Haidt, HAPPINESS
      HYPOTHESIS at 133 (“when introverts are forced to be more outgoing, they
      usually enjoy it and find that it boosts their mood. Even people who think
      they don’t want a lot of social contact still benefit from it.recent work on
      giving support shows that caring for others is often more beneficial than is
      receiving help.”) General discussion in Argyle’s PSYCHOLOGY OF HAPPINESS.

      • jenny_o

        Thank you for the references – I look forward to the book by Susan Cain (and the interview if you post it).

      • Mary

        I tend to think of this as a balancing act (well, as is much of life, I suppose). If my work life dictates lots of working alone, I need contact with others when I’m not working. When my work life dictates LOTS of contact with others, then I need alone-recharging time to balance that out.

        Part of the challenge is to be honest with where you’re at – especially if one is toward one end of the spectrum in terms of extroversion/introversion. I’m pretty darned extroverted, but when I have too much contact with people all day long, I have to move against my default choice of more-contact-more-people to stay sane. And my very introverted friends – they report that pushing back against their default choice of less-contact-fewer-people works as long as they are getting the recharging time they really need.

        I guess it’s not really profound, but it’s been a hard-learned lesson for me…

    • Kelsey

      It sounds like your friends are highly sensitive. While I haven’t finished reading the book (The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron), it might put things in a better light for them, and how they can not feel so sapped after a day spent with others.

  • http://LowStressWeightLoss.com Sarah@LowStressWeightLoss

    Neat list – I think the 2 aspects that appeal to me the most about a group is the accountability, and the support/encouragement. I’ve found both via my blog (different topic than happiness) and the idea of building that for Happiness (like you have) is very appealing.

    In addition, I’m an expat (live in Paris) and have a busy, high-travel job, so finding time & energy to meet new friends is difficult – so online is a great place because it gives a shortcut to find people with common interests

  • Quotesabouthappiness

    Wow these 9 tips are very important if anybody want to be happy in his life.

  • http://www.samrx.com/buy-penegra.aspx Penegra

    Well.. I think, indulging in such an activities which will divert their minds from sorrow to busy profile, and make them happy.. its really great..

  • Mdavis1

    I’m loving your blog and I thoroughly enjoyed your book. But I have a question: I have a friend who seems never to have enjoyed happiness. We live in different cities now, but we use to work together in yet another city. We are now Facebook friends. She has battled depression for most of her life, starting back before there were effective drugs to treat it. She always resisted doing anything fun and, though I haven’t seen her face to face in over 20 years, she still seems to be an extremely negative person. Is there anything I can do, or will she find optimism in herself only if she chooses to do so? Any helpful words from you or your other readers would be appreciated. Thanks, Marie

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that my work resonates with you.

      That’s so tough about your friend. Alas, we can’t “make” someone happy, as
      fervently as we’d like to do so. We can sometimes help contribute to
      conditions that support people’s happiness. Being a loving friend is one
      way.

  • My Cherry

    I realized that some people are borne with happy gin but some are not. For those who are not, we can choose things for tool to remind ourself. It can be pendant,
    pictures, key chain etc. I myself use flat stone that i put in my pocket. Everytime I touch the stone, i will remind myselt to be happy. Nobody should control our happiness but us. Nobody else should ruin our day !

  • Robin

    Happy New Year! I’m going to create a Happiness Project group of my favorite friends and ask them each to invite a favorite friend. This is going to make 2011 the happiest year ever! Thank you for the inspiration

  • sunita

    hi i m sunita my life is loneliness and unhappy so i join the happiness project group bcoz i want make a new friends………….