I’m a big fan of the writing of Richard Florida.
I first got to know his work when I read The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life, which started me thinking about work, time, and place in very different ways. In the same way, Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life really made me think about place in a new way (and made me even more grateful to live in New York City).
Much of his work is about happiness—how to find the work, location, and situation that’s most likely to suit you and allow you to be as happy as you can be. I was very interested to hear how he thought about happiness, himself.
Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Yes, what I am doing right now. Not your questions, I actually enjoy answering them but sitting down behind my keyboard. I do it for hours and hours every day. It gets in the way of me being more physically active and enjoying people and the world outside.
Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”)
Yes, every day needs a party. My wife Rana and I have one every single day in our own way, making dinner, drinking wine, watching a movie, going for a walk, hanging out with family or friends. One way or another we find a way to make a party each and every single day.
Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy—if so, why? ?
I’ve always been happy. Almost every day of my life. I simply cannot remember not being happy. Two things though have made me happier. One was meeting my wife and building a partnership and a business together with her. We do everything together. What a bummer it is to have a travel or do things alone. The second is becoming myself in my forties, figuring out that the person I really have to please and be in life, is me.
Have you ever been surprised that something you expected would make you very happy, didn’t—or vice versa?
Yes of course, any material purchase I made. I end up feeling guilty.
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.