Tag Archives: friendships

Podcast 84: Why It’s Easier to Do Something EVERY Day, Keep a Trash Bag in the Car, and How to Deal with a Tardy Friend.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: If you live near Seattle, please come to our live event! We’ll be recording an episode of the podcast live on stage at Seattle’s Town Hall on October 13, 7:30. Tickets are $25. More info and buy tickets here. Please come, bring your friends. We hope to sell t-shirts — cash only, if we do manage to pull it together.

In episode 76, we talked about manifestos, and if you’re coming to the Seattle event, we’d love to highlight a few manifestos from listeners. So send us your manifesto for work, life, parenting, marriage, exercise, clutter-clearing — whatever! And maybe we’ll talk about it with you on stage.

Try This at Home: It’s often easier to do something every day than to do it some days. I mention The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record. A lot of people have told me that this daily, manageable structure makes it easier to keep a journal.

Happiness Hack: Daphne suggests keeping a garbage bag in the car.

Happiness Stumbling Block: The “China Syndrome” — the fantasy that we’ll automatically become adults. (By the way, I’m having my book group over tonight, and I will use my wedding china.)

Listener Question: Jessica asks “How can I handle my annoyance with my good friend who is always late?”

Gretchen’s  Demerit: I rehearse angry thoughts in my head.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her friend Karine for doing the research to find a vacation rental for their two families.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #84

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Want to Join a Happiness Project Group? Make Friends, Have Fun, Stick to Your Resolutions!

One happiness-project resolution that has added enormously to my happiness is my resolution to Join or start a group.

For many people, making and keeping friends is one of the most important (and challenging) elements of their happiness project, and being part of a group is a terrific way to make new friends, deepen existing friendships, have fun, create a sense of belonging, and spend time thinking about a subject that interests you. (For tips on making friends, read here and here). It sounds odd to talk about “efficiency” in the context of friendship, but belonging to a group is a very efficient way to build and strengthen relationships — especially if you have a hard time making time for friendships.

I’ve heard from lots of people who want to launch or join groups for people doing happiness projects together, so I created this (free) starter kit, to help folks get the ball rolling. If you want a copy, email me at gretchenrubin1 at gretchenrubin dot com.

People all over the world have started groups for people doing happiness projects together. These groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give encouragement, and – perhaps most important – hold each other accountable. (Think AA and Weight Watchers.) Some of these groups consist of people who know each other already — colleagues at a law firm, a sorority, a church study group, members of a family — and some of these groups consist of strangers who come together just to work on happiness projects.

Thanks to the people who responded to a survey, I now have a list of many of the existing groups. You can see the current list of existing groups here or on Facebook here. If you’d like to find out if other people in your areas would like to start a new group with you, start a Discussion Topic under the Discussions tab in the left-hand column on Facebook here. If you’ve started a group, please do take a second to answer these six quick questions! It’s really helpful to have this information.

One important note: it takes work to start a group, and once a group has started, it takes work to keep it going. My three children’s literature reading groups are among the lights of my life, but they do require a fair amount of time and energy. (Yes, it’s true, I’m in three of these groups.) The thing is, being in this group is so worth the effort. It absolutely is. But it’s not effortless. For instance, right now I’m in the middle of an email blizzard as I try to coordinate the next meeting date for one group. It’s a bit of a hassle — but what truly fun thing isn’t sometimes a bit of a hassle?

As Samuel Johnson (one of the patron saints of my happiness project) observed: “The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced.” And while it takes special energy to start something, it also takes energy to keep something going. Just acknowledging that to myself helps me expend the energy more readily.

Have you found that it takes effort to be in a group? And did the group make you happy, nevertheless? What kinds of groups make you happy?

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.

* I got a kick out of seeing these smiles hidden in everyday scenes.

* Want a free, personalized bookplate for your copy of The Happiness Project – or for a friend? Or a signed signature card (if you have an e-book or audio-book)? Sign up here or email me at gretchenrubin1 at gretchenrubin dot com. ask for as many as you’d like, I’ll mail anywhere, and they’re free.

6 Tips for Battling Loneliness.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: six tips for battling loneliness.

The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

A while back, after reading John Cacioppo’s fascinating book Loneliness, I posted Some counter-intuitive facts about loneliness, and several people responded by asking, “Okay, but what do I do about it? What steps can I take to feel less lonely?”

I recently finished another fascinating book, Lonely — a memoir by Emily White, about her own experiences and research into loneliness. White doesn’t attempt to give specific advice about how to combat loneliness, but from her book, I gleaned these strategies:

1. Remember that although the distinction can be difficult to draw, loneliness and solitude are different. White observes, “It’s entirely reasonable to feel lonely yet still feel as though you need some time to yourself.” Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

2. Nurturing others — raising children, teaching, caring for animals — helps to alleviate loneliness.

3. Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having one of these elements may still leave you feeling lonely.

4. Work hard to get your sleep. One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue. (Here are some tips on getting good sleep.)

5. Try to figure out what’s missing from your life. White observes that making lots of plans with friends didn’t alleviate her loneliness. “What I wanted,” she writes, “was the quiet presence of another person.” She longed to have someone else just hanging around the house with her. The more clearly you see what’s lacking, the more clearly you’ll see possible solutions.

6. Take steps to connect with other people (to state the obvious). Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change. The pain of loneliness can prod you to connect with other people. Unfortunately, loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental. If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good strategies for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?

* My friend Stuart Vance just started a very cool site where he posts his iPhone art: ArrghPtoo!

* If you’d like a free, personalized bookplate for your copy of the print book of The Happiness Project, or if you read an e-book, audiobook, or library book and you’d like a free, personalized signature card (with the Paradoxes of Happiness on the back), email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com. Ask for either, or both; feel free to ask for as many as you’d like; I mail them anywhere in the world. But be sure to include your mailing address!

If you’ve already written to me but haven’t received your signature card yet — I’m sorry. I’ve had many more requests than I expected, and ran out almost immediately. The new ones should arrive very soon, and then I’ll send them out as quickly as possible.

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.

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.