If you have read The Happiness Project, you might know author Gretchen Rubin has just released a second memoir on achieving happiness: Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life. I’ve been truly fortunate to get to know Gretchen a bit over the last year or so, and as much as I love her books, I admire and respect her as an individual even more. Having made many changes in my life, including abandoning a corporate career to become a wellness and self-development writer, I can relate to Gretchen’s path to abandon a career in law to become an author.
I recently sat down with Gretchen to learn a little bit more about her new book and her thoughts on change:
How do you define happiness? I don’t! There are something like fifteen academic definitions of happiness, but I think it’s more helpful to think about being “happier” – next month, next year, how can I be happier? – rather than striving to arrive at a final definition.
After The Happiness Project, what made you want to write another book on the topic? Once the idea of “home” caught my attention, I was struck by the degree to which home is the foundation of happiness, for me and for many people. So many elements of a happy life converge in the idea of home. Possessions, time, relationships, neighborhood…all these make a big difference to happiness.
Which month or change of your Happier at Home project was most impactful to you? Oh, I couldn’t pick just one! Each month included changes that added considerably to my happiness.
Someone once told me “Love isn’t a feeling, it is a force.” Would you say that happiness is similar in nature? I would argue that it’s a feeling AND a force. But as I mentioned, I don’t spend a lot of time redefining terms. Maybe it’s my legal training! I have vivid memories of spending six months arguing about the definition of “contract” and “tort.”
As you know, I write a lot about personal change and how it contributes to one’s life. How much do you think personal change factors into one’s ability to achieve happiness? Some of our happiness level is determined by genetics; some by our life circumstances (health, marital status, income, education, etc.) and all the rest is very much affected by the way that we think and act. In this area, I think we absolutely have the ability to make personal changes that can boost (or drag down) our happiness. Such efforts are the focus of a happiness project.
If there was one lesson you could impart to your readers, what would it be? For most people, it is possible to boost the happiness of your everyday life, by making small, manageable changes in your daily routine.
If you haven’t read The Happiness Project, I highly recommend you do. And of course, do get her Happier at Home as a wonderful follow up. Gretchen Rubin has written several other bestselling books as well, Find out more about them here.