spent a year studying books and research reports about happiness and then tested out the ideas on herself to find out if they would make her happier. She wrote about her experiments in a highly-entertaining memoir called The Happiness Project
, which came out last week.
Rubin was actually pretty happy before starting the project. She is a wife and mother of two children, and a successful author. They have a nice apartment in New York. What's not to be happy about? The problem for Rubin was that she wanted to appreciate the good life she knew that she had, and stop feeling annoyed so much. She felt guilty for being a nag and a complainer. "How could I discipline myself to feel grateful for my ordinary day?" she wondered. Because she knew her life was already good, she didn't want to radically change it -- she wanted to change small things in reasonable ways that made sense for her and her family. As she explains, "I didn't want to reject my life."
Rubin was a little concerned that focusing so intently on her own happiness was selfish, but she learned from her research that happy people are "more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, are interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens."
One thing Rubin learned while researching happiness studies was that "people are more likely to make progress on goals that are broken into concrete, measurable actions, with some kind of structured accountability and positive reinforcement." So she came up with a chart (inspired by the 13-point chart for virtuous living that Benjamin Franklin kept) to track the virtues she was interested in. (Here's a Word doc of Rubin's charts.)
Rubin went to work tackling one major resolution per month for a year, reporting on how it affected her happiness. In January, she strove to boost her energy by sleeping more, exercising better, organizing her home and office, completing "nagging tasks," and pretending to have more energy. In February, she worked on making her happy marriage even happier. In March, she addressed work-related goals, and in subsequent months she worked on parenthood, play, friendship, money, spirituality, passion, mindfulness, and attitude.
I had fun reading about Rubin's triumphs, insights, and failures. She's honest about her frustrating experiences, which are often more interesting that her successful ones. I admire her for wanting to become a better, more interesting, and more helpful person, and for sharing her story. I'm going to apply much of what I read in this book into my own life.
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002, and over the decade and a half since, I’ve marvelled at his polymath abilities — running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary’s ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT’s storied Media Lab — and I’ve watched with excitement as he’s distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.
A flashlight review that begins with the promise “I’m about to hike through a remote canyon to an abandoned mine, and I gotta tell you there’s a storm raging outside” should end on an interesting note, and this one does. [via] Disturbing, strange sounds. That’s exactly what I caught on video while filming and documenting […]
Last summer, Warren Ellis serialized a novel, “Normal,” as a series of four novellas; today, they’re collected in a single, short book that mainlines a month’s worth of terrifying futuristic fiction in one go.
The Boing Boing Store’s Gift Guide is full of ideas for pretty much anyone in your life like hipster ice cub trays, Xbox controllers, Halo Boards, and even diamond necklaces. As always, all products in the Boing Boing Store come at great discounts, too. Shop by price bucket starting at under $20. Under $20:Bloxx Jumbo Ice Trays […]
Unlike traditional lighters, the SaberLight features an electronic plasma beam that’s both rechargeable and butane-free. This sleek lighter is even approved by TSA, so you’ll never be stuck buying lighters you’ll just have to throw away partially used. For some people, like me, this is a pretty big game-changer. The SaberLight’s beam is actually both hotter and cleaner […]
Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the Striiv Touch is one of the best gift ideas I’ve landed on. Its simple design works for females and males, and its wide range of features makes it suitable for even the non-fitness enthusiasts in your life.Unlike traditional fitness trackers, the Striiv Touch also acts as a smartwatch. It […]