A Little Happier: Your Question May Suggest Its Own Answer.

In Piers Anthony’s fantasy novel A Spell for Chameleon, a character knows just what to say.

When a manticora (body of a lion, head of a man, wings of a dragon, tail of a scorpion) asks the Good Magician Humfrey whether he has a soul, the magician answers,  “Only those who possess souls are concerned about them.

Which seems obviously true. To ask the question is to answer it.

What do you think — does the fact that you’re concerned about something suggest the answer to your question?

If you want to learn more about my book The Happiness Project:

  • Watch the one-minute book video
  • Request the one-page discussion guide or spiritual discussion guide
  • Listen to a sample of the audiobook (that’s me, reading from the Introduction)
  • The link to the sample chapter is broken…I’m figuring that out.


Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


Happier listening!

  • Mimi Gregor

    This does make my week a little happier, Gretchen. I sometimes find myself obsessing about whether I am doing enough or good enough in many arenas. It’s reassuring to know that because I care enough to worry about it, then, yes, I probably am doing enough in a good enough manner. Am I perfect at it? Heavens, no. It’s good enough to be good enough. Trying to be perfect seems to render people impotent; they are too concerned with doing things perfectly to do anything at all.

    Thanks for this recap on perspective.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear that it struck a chord.

  • Flamish Marmish

    Hi Gretchen, I have a question with regard to happiness.
    How to avoid compromising authencity? Namely, I would love to have an online diary but you’re not supposed to let everyone know _everything_ about you. Or are you? This inability to freely tell everyone everything I have on my mind or everything that happened is eating me.
    I was listening to one of your podcast episodes about a month of being brutally honest and it rings the bell for me except that I would want to be like this all the time.

    • MaggieRose59

      I think it is essential to be brutally honest with yourself. But to be brutally honest with others, (with the exception of certain situations) is just plain selfish and mean. I know a couple of people that think it is important to always speak their mind and spout their opinion, in the name of being authentic. They are difficult to be around. Self-control and self-restraint are just another name for good manners. You may want to rethink the idea that it is somehow good to say everything.

      Here is a good formula for speaking openly to someone:
      First, is what you want to say TRUE
      Second, is what you want to say NECESSARY
      Third, is what you want to say KIND

    • gretchenrubin

      Ah, you’re listening to the interview with AJ Jacobs! I don’t think that month went very well for him (he was trying to live by the commandment to not lie). Authenticity is one thing, but to hear your deepest confidences, don’t people need to earn your trust, as individiuals?

    • Mimi Gregor

      If I may, Flamish, there are social networks/online journals where you can choose a name to use instead of having to use what they consider a “real name” (as in FaceBook) AND you can choose who can and cannot see each individual post. It’s old school, but LiveJournal has these options. I have an account there, which I seldom use anymore, and they aren’t as popular as they once were, but they still have these options, and I still have many friends there who opine on all matters, big and small. You might want to check them out.

      I love the concept of Radical Honesty, but if I practiced it in “real life”, I would soon be a pariah instead of just a loner.