True happiness fact: challenge brings happiness (after it brings frustration and anxiety).

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One of the least pleasant conclusions I’ve reached is that, darn it, the experts are right when they say that novelty and challenge lead to happiness.

I dislike not knowing what I’m doing, I resist change and learning new things, I love routine – but I’ve seen, over and over, that novelty and challenge do indeed make me happier, once I suffer through the anxiety and frustration of trying something new.

This blog is a good example. It’s a huge source of happiness, but also a fairly major source of frustration. But the more I do, the easier it gets, plus I have the satisfaction of seeing my accomplishments along the way. I remember when I couldn’t even post an image. This progress gives me the “atmosphere of growth” that’s the fourth, and critical, prong of my First Splendid Truth.

Now I have a new, exciting opportunity for novelty and challenge! (Translation: I’m spending a lot of time feeling frustrated and dumb, but I’m making progress.) I’m going to start sending out a short monthly newsletter.

Sending a newsletter is one of those tasks that will become fairly easy after I send out the first three – when everything has been set up, and I’ve got the kinks worked out. But until then, novelty and challenge abound.

All my happiness-project lessons have come into play, in a way that seems almost comical.

Example: I couldn’t figure out what newletter vendor to use, and couldn’t budge past that initial question, but as the Zen masters say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and last week I met an extremely knowledgeable person who had just researched this question. This guy picked MailChimp, so I did the same.

I signed up with MailChimp. More challenge, more frustration. Aargh, I don’t have a logo; I don’t know how to use PhotoShop to create a banner image; I can’t decide how big the top image should be; I can’t quite figure out how to put the sign-up-for-this-newsletter box on my blog; etc., etc.

I remind myself: “Embrace novelty and challenge!” “Enjoy the fun of failure!” “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!” “If the student is ready, the teacher will appear!” “Take time to wander!” “Put myself in jail!” “Start simple, start now!” These help.

The happiness won’t hit for a while. Now is the frustrating part. But when I send out my first email newsletter, then it will come.

From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.



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