Join the 2011 Happiness Challenge! With Videos.

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

When I started my happiness project, I asked myself, “What do I want less of in my life?” Among many other things, I decided I wanted less yelling at my children in the morning, less nagging of my husband, less feeling guilty about eating fake food. I also asked myself, “What do I want more of in my life?” I decided I wanted more time reading, more time imitating a spiritual master, more hugging and kissing my family. Then I made specific, manageable resolutions aimed at helping me make these changes.

I like trying lots of resolutions at once, but for many people, it’s more effective to pick just one thing. And it can be a very small change! One small change can be enough to launch your happiness project. You can change your life without changing your life.

If the idea of making resolutions appeals to you, consider signing up for the 2011 Happiness Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year. Studies show that taking an action, like signing up, will help you hold yourself accountable for your resolutions. Thousands of people have signed up for the Challenge already.

Each month, I’ll identify a theme, and each week, I’ll post a two-minute video about a specific, manageable resolution aimed at that month’s theme. Even if that particular resolution doesn’t resonate with you, it may help you think of a resolution that would suit you better.

Although it’s fun to make resolutions, it’s very challenging to keep resolutions. There’s something about the accountability of being part of a group (even an invisible group, like this one), and the enthusiasm that’s generated, that makes it easier to keep up the resolution-keeping momentum.

Here’s the introductory video to the 2011 Happiness Challenge:

But whether you follow my suggestions or not, remember, pick something small and manageable! Something you can really do. And then do it. My own experience with a happiness project, and with resolutions-keeping, has convinced me that it is possible to become happier, by making small changes to everyday life.

I’m curious — what are some resolutions (small or big) that people are undertaking for 2011?

* I was thrilled to see my friend Kamy Wicoff profiled in the Wall Street Journal. Kamy is founder of the great site and resource She Writes, as well as the fabulous New York Salon of Women Writers (a group from which I’ve made many writerly friends). The article focuses on Kamy’s support for Girls Write Now, another terrific organization which pairs high-school girls from underprivileged New York City schools with writer-mentors.

* Sign up here for the 2011 Happiness Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year.

  • I have to admit…I purchased your books MONTHS ago, but never took the time to sit and read it (how awful!!! I know!) While I am frequent blog visitor, the start of the New Year is a perfect time to OPEN IT (which I did last week) and start MY HAPPINESS PROJECT! Thank you for the encouragement and positivity you’ve shared with all of us! Looking forward to continued happiness in the months and years ahead!

  • The Red Angel

    I joined! Can’t wait to make 2011 my happiest year yet. 🙂


  • Alana in Canada

    Great video, Gretchen! I’ll participate. I have already made my “Resolution chart” for January–this week has been interesting. My theme this month is “Lay the foundation”–food, sleeping, exercise, that sort of thing.

    By the by, you are the first person I’ve come across who says it’s OK to tackle a whole bunch of things to change at once. I’m glad for that! Last year when I tried to change just “one thing” and I had a day when I didn’t do that new thing, I felt like such a failure. Eventually, I stopped implementing change entirely. This month I’m working on 11 things. If I fail at one of them, so what? I’ve got 10 successes!

    Thanks for the “permission” to do it “my way!”

    • Peninith1

      Love your phrase “Lay the Foundation” . . . will adopt that one myself!

  • Jessica

    I’ve made resolution charts through June, and many of my resolutions have to do with “feeling right.” This month is Health, so I’m focusing on taking my vitamins, exercising, flossing. It’s not that I feel particularly good doing them, but I feel more complete, having less guilt that comes with not doing things I “should” be doing.

  • Modernhousewivery

    Looking forward to the 2011 Happiness Challenge! Gretchen, my father who does not read at all, read your book for a mental boost after recovering from Cancer surgery. The man could barely walk for a month, but lo and behold after Chapter 1, went and cleaned out his closet. He said it made him feel better. What a great thing you’ve done!

    Big resolution: Be less quick to anger at my husband
    Small resolution: Floss Daily

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m thrilled to hear that my work resonated with your father during such a
      difficult time. To a healthy 2011 —

  • Noah B

    One of the things I’d like to tackle here at the beginning of the year is keeping track of what I already do during a week by keeping a sort of personal time card or time sheet. I’m thinking this could help me pinpoint successes I already have and trouble spots I’d like to work on.

  • LivewithFlair

    Today I figured out a new resolution. I want to stop seeing my children as “interruptions” to my life.

    • This should be on my resolution list -primarily when it comes to my youngest child. As part of the healthier living part of my project I am walking 10,000 steps a day. I have started doing part of this after school with my youngest daughter and it really ensures that I take time to really listen to her –

  • Only a week in and I am really loving my happiness project! I posted my plan, daily updates, a growing list of keys to happiness and keeping your resolutions on my blog Trailblazing My Life – . Thanks for providing the inspiration for me to get my project started.

  • Marlies

    Great video! My number 1 resolution is to keep the promisses I make to myself and after that the promisses I make to my loved ones.

  • One of my resolutions is to play more and be more relationship focused. I am a project “addict” and although I have much fun in my lists and projects I am discovering that playing and having fun are two different things. AND lists are not relational–people are. I am blogging about this at I love this blog and it is in my blogroll. Thanks for this site and your great book!

  • I’m getting excited about this! I was already working on becoming happier and a better person and this might give some structure to all of that. I’m going to sign up 🙂

  • Hey, this sounds like fun. I’m looking forward to learning more about the project.

    Who knows, I may decide I want to participate so I can fulfill the ‘duty of being happy.’ 🙂

    And it has a great tie-in with the blog I just started.


  • Barbara

    I agree with the post below about tackling a bunch of projects at once…in your book, I love the way you reassess something you were doing and say, this wasn’t working anymore,, like the pedometer, but it was because you had actually moved to another incarnation of that resolution. The initial resolution was just a kick start.

  • Takefivemama

    Wow, Gretchen! I just got chills and a bit verklempt when you advised that wherever you are, whenever you are watching this, just jump in! Thank you for making me feel included just as I am, just now.

  • I loved The Happiness Project book I got from the library so much I bought 2 – one for me and one for my daughter in law!
    August is month 1 for my Happiness Project and my goal was to eliminate self-induced guilt (be in integrity) – found a good quote that guilt is sometimes a friendly internal voice reminding you that you’re messing up. (Marge Kennedy) I chose too many things to change in one month, but I’ve managed to stick to some – and am feeling more in control of my life already – I’m getting up earlier to exercise and packing my lunch. I’ve decided I should have named the resolution “taking responsibility for my own health”. I still need to work on should do’s – I should call my Mom more, take better care of my skin, do meal planning. Next month it should probably be I am responsible for my own happiness and satisfaction. I think I expect too much from my husband.

  • karenambury

    Better late than never….!