If you ask someone “what do you want in this life?” most often they will respond, “to be happy.” While riding the city bus on a rainy day, Gretchen Rubin pondered that exact thought and came up with the same answer. So what does it mean to be happy?
Each of us may measure this differently. However, Rubin set out to gain more concrete answers. On her year-long happiness project, she explored ancient wisdom, current scientific research, popular cultural observations, and performed her own experiments to figure out what happiness is all about. Her discoveries turned into a book called The Happiness Project, which went on to become a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. Her project is now a movement – one we can all join, and one we will be better off for following.
Rubin got her undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University and went on to clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor and serve as chief advisor to Reed Hundt, Federal Communications Commission Chairman. Her high profile law career was trumped by her love and instinct to write. Over time her favorite subjects, habits, happiness, and human nature, earned her the title of Happiness Guru. Rubin has been interviewed by Oprah and walked arm-in-arm with the Dalai Lama…she’s kind of a big (happy) deal.
In her pursuit of happiness Rubin provides useful habits we can implement, questions we can ask ourselves, and experiments worth looking into. The journey begins and evolves by taking a glance inward and learning more about yourself; only from there can you lead a life that is truly inspired… and happy.
Rubin shares many quizzes and tips on her blog to guide us through the self-inquiry. One of our favorite quizzes is a probing little number that asks you to reflect on the rhythm of your days, your values and your habits. It’s called “Want to get to know yourself better.” Answer? Of course! We had a lot of fun with this, so take out your journal and get started. Some sample questions inlcude:
Would I rather be ten minutes late or ten minutes early?
What errands do I regularly do? How many times each week?
How much control do I have over my time: what time I get up, go to work, go home, go to the gym, leisure time?
How much time do I spend commuting or taking other people to activities?
Would I like to spend more time with friends, or by myself?
At what time of day do I feel energized? When do I drag?
Do I like racing from one activity to another, or do I prefer unhurried transitions?
What activities take up my time but aren’t particularly useful or stimulating?
Do I want to spend more time outside?
What stores do I often visit—for necessity or for fun?
Do I have several things on my calendar that I anticipate with pleasure?
What does my ideal day look like?
What can I do for hours without feeling bored?
What daily or weekly activity did I do for fun when I was ten years old?
Take the full quiz here
Explore more of Rubin’s happiness project by picking up one of her full-of-humor and insightful books, like: The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before. Learn more about Gretchen Rubin by visiting gretchenrubin.com.