One of the happiness-project resolutions that has added most to my happiness is my resolution to Join or start a group.
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. 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're pressed for time).
I've heard from lots of people who want to launch or join groups for people doing happiness projects together, so I created the starter kit, to help them get the ball rolling. (If you want a copy, email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com.)
In answer to my plea, many people already in Happiness Project groups completed the survey about their groups. (If you're in a group and haven't filled it out, please take a second to answer these six quick questions!)
Thanks to those responses, I now have a list of the existing groups. At last, if you want to know if there's a group in your area, you can look it up. You can see the current list here or on Facebook here. If you want to start a new group in your area, start a Discussion Topic under the Discussions tab in the left-hand column on Facebook.
One important note: it takes work to start a group, and once a group has started, it takes work to help keep it going. It's enormously rewarding, but it demands some effort.
My three children's literature reading groups are among the lights of my life. (Yes, it's true, I'm in three of these groups.) Nevertheless, they take a lot of work. Tonight, for instance, one of the groups was supposed to meet at a member's apartment, but at the last minute, he couldn't do it. So I said I'd host instead. I was about to start the frantic pre-guest preparations, when another member bowed out, sick, then someone had an emergency business meeting, and it was a bad night to begin with for a few other folks -- and so in the end, we've had to reschedule. This took a lot of emails, logistics, calendar coordination...not much fun. (In case you're wondering: book choices are Raskin's The Westing Game and Sleator's House of Stairs.)
The thing is, being in this group is so worth the effort. It absolutely is. But it's not effortless.
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?
* I love the site Brainpickings, but I'd missed the post on DrawHappy: Ongoing global art project on happiness until a thoughtful reader pointed it out to me.
* Sign up for the Moment of Happiness, and every weekday morning, you’ll get a happiness quotation in your email inbox. Sign up here, or email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com.