“The Secret of Happiness Lies in Taking a Genuine Interest in All the Details of Daily Life.”

“The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
— William Morris

I’m thunderstruck by the truth of this observation. In other words, mindfulness. Always mindfulness!

* Today, a reader commenting on the previous post mentioned TVTropes.org (and its addictive qualities). If you’ve never looked at it, check it out. Fascinating.

* If you’d like the new and improved starter kit for starting your own happiness-project group, for people doing happiness projects together, email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. If you’re wondering why you’d want to consider doing that, read here.

  • William Morris also said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I try to live by this in my home.

    Morris has a lot of quotes that fit into The Happiness Project philosophy. Here are some: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/william_morris/

  • LivewithFlair

    Totally agree. For me, “genuine interest” means making a prose-poem of something that happens in the day–turning into a blog post–to mark it down. Love that quote! http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  • Peninith1

    William Morris–not an enviable man, in terms of having an easy life, but a wonderful, creative mind who left us with so much beauty. Maybe not ‘practical’ but still correct. I love his art and the art that he gathered around him. This not about taking a genuine interest in the details of our life is so ON TARGET. What makes life a joy cannot be the BIG moments, which are rare, but a constant succession of small moments fully observed and absorbed and lived. Thank God, the world is full of endless wonders to be observed and appreciated. As another of my favorites, Joseph Conrad, put it “first of all, I want to make you SEE.” See what is there, available to you through no effort of your own, or just because you made space for it, and you will have unlimited opportunities for joy.

  • cmclaire

    That’s a great quote. Thank you for sharing!


  • sarah (the SHU box)

    just when you thought you were safe, mindfulness rears its head yet again . . . 🙂

    i LOVE this quote! and i completely agree, and try to live with this in mind.

    i also like the house quote mentioned by the commenter above.

    • gretchenrubin

      I feel a possible William Morris mini-obsession coming on…

  • Thanks. Great quote at the right time. I bookmarked it for a reminder.

  • Huiek

    This is similar, in thought, to Robert Persig’s admonition in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that we strive to have “just good moments.” All we can have, all we do have really, are moments. If I work to make each one good without thinking ahead to moments that haven’t come or back to moments that are gone, I am happier.

  • Angeliki

    I can’t agree more. Being mindful, stay in the present, pay attention to details, and you start noticing things differently and you start seeing other sides of life. I’ve recently joined a mindfulness course and wrote about it here http://repsych.blogspot.com/

  • This is a great quote and I totally agree. Until you open your eyes and look around, you’re missing out on awesome things. Like today, I just looked outside and noticed the brilliant colors of the leaves. I love fall colors and they’re all kinds of red and orange leaves. It was amazing!

    I also have two sons. One is only 2 months old and he’s starting to coo. I enjoy just being in the moment with him. Just looking at them both make me really happy.

  • I don’t know who William Morris is, but you and he got that right. I do a new class at Tom’s University every day, and post one of the classes as a “Podclass” to my blog 2 or 3 times a week. The class on September 11th was titled “Love the Details of Your Life” and I posted it to the blog on October 6th. I think you and your readers would enjoy it and find it inspiring (or at least interesting). In the class I realized that if I were really “loving the details of my life”, I would be loving the details of time, the details of the present moment. It was quite a wonderful and startling awareness/learning I was having in the moment of the class. There is also a transcript of the class, but I think to get the real flavor of the experience, which may be “transferable” to others from listening to it, requires hearing the tone of my voice as I’m discovering what it feels like in my body to be “loving the details” of THOSE moments in the podclass.

    Hope this is O.K. to share this much about me and my thing in your comments. i’m really new to this blogging world and slowly learning what the “rules” are. Please tell me if I’m off base. I really love it that you’re helping people learn to take responsibility for their own happiness!!!



  • Tibby

    To quote the Zen proverb: “After enlightenment — the laundry.” Ah, those everyday tasks that we can make into a zen moment…..

  • Alexandra Dare

    I’m trying to apply mindfulness to my daily life. Applying mindfulness to eating habits it the ONLY WAY to lose weight and keep it off. The 15 pounds I’ve lost without much effort is the proof in my pocket.

    -Alexandra Dare

  • BerniceWood

    Oh I am so learning to enjoy my journey! I am a type A who was always on the go, in a big rush, trying to get to my next place, or cross the next thing off my list. Then I had a breakdown. That’s what it took to get my attention!
    What am I do right now? Sitting on my deck in the morning coolness with my dogs and coffee, listening to the crows caw and the roosters crow!


  • It’s the truth of this simple statement that grabs you. What a different world it would be if we could keep this thought in our minds always!

    My mother used to tell me that everyone has a story and, if you just take the time to listen to the details, you will most likely learn something and most definitely be enriched by the experience. The real message in her words: life is in the details.

  • For me, it’s being present in the moment…fully aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the moment. I concentrate on being with whoever is in my presence giving them my full attention…enjoying the moment.