Tag Archives: happiness

Ask for Help: Want to Make a Short Video?

One of my surprisingly difficult happiness-project resolutions is to Ask for help – and now I’m asking.

The internet has changed a lot about publishing. There are many new ways to reach readers – and that means a lot of new tasks for writers. This can be daunting, at times, and I often remind myself of one of my most important happiness realizations: Novelty and challenge bring happiness.

One of the novel challenges facing me right now is the creation of a book trailer, which has been on my to-do list for, well, about eighteen months now. By a crazy lucky chance, (or another instance of the uncannily true Zen saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”), my friend Maria Giacchino, of Little Jacket Video Productions, has just started making book trailers, and she’s done two great ones for two great books: for Abigail Pogrebin’s One and the Same and Deborah Copaken Kogan’s Hell Is Other Parents.

So now I’m working on my book trailer. In it, I’d love to include clips of readers talking about what happiness-project resolutions have worked in their own lives.

So I’m asking for your help.

If this is the kind of task that appeals to you (and for many of you, it won’t appeal one bit, I know, so read no further), and you’ve used a happiness-project resolution to happy result, please consider…

–shooting a quick video of yourself naming a resolution that has boosted your happiness, or some important realization you gained, from The Happiness Project. Remember, the entire trailer will be about one minute long, and we want to include many people, so say something very quick and soundbite-y. “The resolution to ‘Make your bed’ changed my life!” etc.

–posting the video to the Facebook Page so everyone can see it. In the middle of the page, you’ll see the “Wall” box that says, “What’s on your mind?” Below it are icons, one of which is a video camera. Click on that, and you’ll get a prompt to upload or record a video. I THINK. Facebook seems different for everyone who uses it, so I THINK this is what you’ll see. I THINK you should be able to do this without joining the Page, but if you don’t see a likely way to do this, join the Page and maybe that will help. (I promise, this is not meant to be a sneaky way of getting you to join the Page! Sorry about that!) There should also be a “Video” tab across the top; you can use that, too.

–if I end up taking a clip from your video, I’ll be in touch with you to get a permission form. And I’ll be ecstatically grateful.

Please do consider doing this! I would so appreciate it!

My happiness project has taught me “Novelty and challenge bring happiness.” Following that precept prompted me to add another happiness-project resolution, “Enjoy the fun of failure.” I’m worried that no one will post a single video, and I’ll feel like a loser. That’s the problem with novelty and challenge – they often come with anxiety, frustration, and…feeling like a loser. So I remind myself, “This is fun! Enjoy the FUN of failure.” If no one posts, that’s okay.

Happiness doesn’t always make me feel happy. A mystery.

* I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days reading the blog To the Max — “Take that, cerebral palsy!” “This blog is about parenting, extreme honesty, chocolate ice-cream and life with my little boy, Max, who had a stroke at birth and kicks butts.” There was a great post yesterday: Is it wrong to make your child wear a Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping bag for Halloween?

* Gold star for people who shoot a video of themselves naming their favorite resolution!

Take a Look at Some Other Happiness Projects. It’s Not Just Me!

One of the most exciting things about working on my happiness project is seeing other people start their own happiness projects.

I get a real kick from seeing these happiness-project blogs, where people have taken my basic idea and run with it themselves — taking the concept in so many different directions. Every happiness project is different; every one is fascinating. Check these blogs out yourself:


If you have a blog that’s not on this list, please add yours to this simple form, and your blog’s name and URL will be added to the chart. That way, all of us can see what you’re doing.

If you’d like to start a happiness project, but don’t want to do it using a blog, here are some ideas for getting started. Happiness projects for everyone!

* How can I resist a column on Money & Happiness? I can’t, so I’m a big fan of Laura Rowley’s writing Yahoo! Finance.

* For more discussion about happiness, join the Facebook Page. Lots of people, lots of fascinating insights and conversation.

Happiness Is…A Good Discussion About Happiness.

I’m a huge fan of book groups, and I’m in three, myself. In two of my book groups, we read children’s literature – the first group got so large that we had to close it, so I started another one. I’m also in a group where we read adult fiction or non-fiction. I think joining or starting a group is an excellent engine of happiness, and a book group is one of the most popular organizing principles for a group.

If I do say so myself, I think The Happiness Project would make a good choice for book groups. There’s a lot to talk about, whether or not you agree with my approach; in fact, if you disagree with my approach, you have even more to talk about.

If you’re in a book group and think that you’d encourage your group to choose The Happiness Project, I’d love to hear from you. You can’t know for sure, of course, until you actually see the book, and reading the book is very different from reading the blog, but if you’re a blog reader who wants to suggest the book for your book group, please drop me a note.

Why? I’m working on a reading-group guide, and I want to be able to send it to you. Also, I’ll give away a certain number of free early copies of the book, when it’s ready, and I’ll choose randomly from these emails to send out what supplies I get.

This is on the honor system. If you’re a member of a book group, and you sincerely believe you might be inclined to recommend the book to your group…
— email me at gretchenrubin1 [at] gmail.com (don’t forget the “1”) with the message “book group”
— include your name and address if you’d like to be eligible for a free book
— if you’re willing, I’d love to get a brief description of your group: how many members, what kind of books you read, etc. No particular reason, I’m just curious about book groups.

I feel a little sheepish about this post, because I don’t want to seem to be doing too much self-promotion, but — there it is!

* Yes, Delia is a good friend of mine, but I’d read her blog RealDelia — “finding yourself in adulthood” — even if I didn’t know her.

* If you’re interested in starting your own happiness project, check out the Happiness Project Toolbox. Lots of great tools there — plus you can see what other people are doing, which is addictive.

Facebook has a Gross National Happiness Index.

I’m intrigued by Facebook’s “sentiment engine,” the United States Gross National Happiness application that tracks the happiness of Facebook users based on the words used in their updates – words like “happy” or “awesome” or “sad” or “tragic.”

CNET reports that it covers only English-using United States-based members, but that is likely to change.

Fascinating.

I think I remember reading elsewhere that people tend to emphasize the positive in status updates, which is quite interesting, if true.

The larger question of how social media — like email, texting, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. — plays into our happiness is one of the big new questions in happiness. On the one hand, it’s a tremendous boon and connector of people. On the other hand, it can be a crushing weight that feels inescapable. I’m firmly in the social-media-makes-us-happier camp myself, but I understand the counter-arguments.

* If you’re interested in the creative process for writers, check out novelist Christina Baker Kline’s blog, A Writing Life. Lots of fascinating material there from many different writers. Kline’s great new novel, Bird In Hand, just came out.

* Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.

Have You Ever Experienced Split-Second-Aging?

Yesterday, I got my feeling of split-second-aging.

While I was riding on the subway, for no particular reason, I felt some odometer click over, and I became older. I felt it happen. I crossed some invisible border, and now some things seem closer and clearer and more important, and other things, further away.

I’ve had this feeling of unexpected split-second-aging before, and I’ve also failed to feel it, when I expected to feel it. The night I got married, for example, I remember saying to my husband of a few hours, “I thought I’d feel different, but I feel the same. Do you feel different?” He didn’t feel any different, either.

Having a baby, too. I felt a huge range of new emotions and concerns, but I didn’t feel any older or more mature. Same old me.

But I remember feeling split-second-aging when my husband had knee surgery. I was sitting in the waiting room with my mother-in-law and father-in-law, waiting for him to regain consciousness, when the doctor came in to give us the update. (Never have I felt such love for my father-in-law as when he said, nicely but sternly, “Doctor, we want to manage this situation for no pain.”) It wasn’t a dangerous operation, but suddenly I knew that I’d leave that hospital a lot older than I’d come in.

But sometimes split-second-aging feels good. Several years ago, my mother, sister, and I organized a surprise party for my father in my apartment, and the oversized flower arrangement made a big impression on my four-year-old. When a babysitter arrived to watch her while the party was going on, I overheard my daughter explain in a soft voice, “My mommy is having a flower party.”

Suddenly, I felt like the the omnipotent Mommy of my own childhood, or Mrs. Dalloway. I felt grown-up in a way I never had before — in a pleasing way.

The passage of time is one of the great currents of life that affect happiness. Split-second-aging isn’t a happy feeling or an unhappy feeling, but it is a weighty feeling.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Am I the only one who has experienced split-second-aging?

* I can’t get over how nice people are being about my forthcoming book – Karl over at the great blog Work Happy Now! wrote an incredibly generous post.

* Speaking of people being helpful and nice, if you’d like to volunteer to help me from time to time with The Happiness Project, you can sign up here. Super-Fans, THANKS again for all your help.