Video: Choose One Word to Set the Tone for the Year.

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This month’s theme is Resolutions. Last week’s resolution was to Hold yourself accountable. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Choose a one-word theme for the year.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Choose one word to set the tone for next year.
What’s your six-word secret of happiness?
Do you have trouble sticking to your resolutions?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* One highlight of my trip to Toronto was getting to see two friends from blogland. If you’re not familiar with Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity — “unconventional strategies for life, work, and travel” — or Neil Pasricha’s 1000 Awesome Things — “a daily awesome thing,” check them out. Both great sites, and great guys.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

  • Beverly

    I chose ENTHUSIASM. Without it nothing great happens. Not a moment, a day, a week or a year. All are like lemons without the zest.

  • This is a great point you make, love this idea!
    It’s my first year picking a word for the year; after reading an inspiring post and choosing eleven words I ended up choosing one word to tie them all together and formed a sentence I now have posted on my inspiration board, one sentence I’ll try to keep in mind every day this year –>

    I chose “choose” 😉
    It’s a great reminder that I myself am accountable for most everything that happens to me.

  • Lauren

    This is tough. I have been thinking abou this since December. I think I am going to choose “Clear.”

  • flossattrocbrocandrecup

    Thanks – I know this idea but I needed to see it in print (???) to actually do it. I looked back over my notes for 1st January and the word that sums up my goals is ENJOY! I feel rather pleased… not something too hard… except that I tend to worry if other people are happy or if something’s going to go wrong, so I forget to enjoy. This is going to be a good reminder.

  • Elaine


  • Eileencan


  • Ashley

    I’m choosing Bold, to remind myself that without risk, there’s no reward.

  • Super_Lucky

    Generosity. For myself and others.

  • Theresa Vaz

    I’ve thought about this and I think the word for this year would be opportunities. I started seeing that there are exciting opportunities when I am opem to them.

  • Learn.

    Today is my Birthday and the beginning of my personal year and my own Happiness Project. I just finished your book yesterday (perfect timing!) and I will definitely be checking back to your website for more inspiration throughout the year. Thanks!

  • Eb77


  • Cate

    I love this idea! I have chosen ‘consistency’ as my word for this year. The number of times I tend to stop and start things (running springs to mind!) really bothers me. This year I want to be consistent!

  • Tricia Rose

    Delegate. I find it so hard not to want to do it all myself.

    Accompanying affirmation: Delegation enables expansion and focus. I might have to get a tattoo.

  • Kristi

    Today. Not tomorrow or next week. Today.

  • Fulfilled. Since the early 2000s my word has been journey. I am still on my journey but I have come to realize that I am fortunate to have everything I want and need. My wish for you, others and myself is to be fulfilled.

  • “Betterment.”

    The Happiness Project inspired my Betterment Blog:

  • Martina

    Do. I need to remember not to put things off, or to waste time being idle. Also, when I find myself complaining about a problem, I should do whatever I can to try to solve it myself.

  • My word is “benevolence”.

  • Focus.

    In December I decided that a lot of what I was doing in my life wasn’t working. All that junk was also slowing me down, wasting time and energy. I am now able to pour some real energy and passion into my website. I even finished a couple of ebooks for it.

    To help I have a series of inspirational wallpapers rotating on my desktop including a few that say focus.

  • jenny_o


    All the elements – exercise, eating well, sleeping enough, alleviating stress, forging and maintaining bonds with other people.

  • My husband and I made this a tradition during the New Milenium and we have held to it ever since. It has become a sort of fun turn of the year brainstorm for us.

    Last year, it was “simplify”. We purged and purged and purged. This year it’s “stability”.
    Hubby has been in a long career transition and this is the year to reestablish our roots.


  • Great post. I appreciate you bringing this forward.

  • EllieA


  • Armychic73


  • fashionplate

    From another website, a similar idea stretched this to 3 words for 2011. Mine are discernment, enjoy, and educate.

  • Kara

    My husband and I are going to work on our word. Also, I love themes; as a former yearbook adviser who spent years considering everything thematically with my students, this is a fun assignment.

  • My word for 2011 is yield. As in “Yield and overcome” from the Tao Te Ching.

  • earthgirl


  • Mommy Panda

    Moderation. (As in moderation with eating and moderation with spending!)

  • Arthur

    My word is Peace

  • Dearest Gretchen, As chose to play your video in the background of my laptop, while checking my emails, because I decided that this was one exercise that just wasn’t my “thing”. I have been following you long enough to know that you are “down with that” to quote my kids. But all of the sudden the word LOVELY popped into my head. LOVELY. I get great joy when I am sitting in a well decorated room, looking at art and photography, sitting at a well set table, eating food that is colorful and delicately prepared. I love a movie that that has beautiful art direction (imagine the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the architecture, the tea cups and the grocery bags brimming over with fresh flowers in Mrs. Doubtfire). I even love the process of taking the time to dress and put on make-up. I know that my “little ankle biters” (a line from Mrs. Doubtfire 😉 love it when they see me dressed-up and wearing make-up, too. I imagine that is because it is like putting out a sign that says, “Mommy is happy!” As a result, they get all happy, too! Imagine that honoring the word LOVELY each day could not only make me happy but could make my entire family happy, too. It seems almost too easy. Yet, it seems profound. I’ll let you know how I do.

  • Antonietta

    My word is Motherhood. My husband and I are trying to have a baby and it’s taking longer than we expected. Each month, I’d go through a range of emotions, from excitement and joy to disappointment, sadness, and anger. It’s hard to accept the things you can’t control. Then I realized, even though I can’t control my circumstances, I can control the way I react to them.
    So as the year starts, I’m realizing there are many ways to be a “mother”. If I focus on being a “mother” to those around me, to my students, to my friends, to my loved-ones, then the pressure to actually become a mother is taken off. So far, this has made me happy.

  • Terri

    I am celebrating a milestone birthday this year and I find myself also starting a new chapter. My son is in college now and life is changing. When raising a family I think a lot of women lose a part of themselves to family tasks. I am celebrating so much this year, and celebrating finding who I am. Thanks Gretchen.