Gretchen Rubin, whose “The Happiness Project” is both a bestselling book and a popular blog, concedes that the title may be something of a misnomer. “Happiness,” she says, has a way of turning into a mythical destination that taunts us with our inability to reach it. Better to make “happier” the goal, and to improve your life through a series of manageable, concrete steps. Like…making your bed?
OK, so there’s a bit more to it than that, as Rubin acknowledges in her Big Think interview. There’s a “transcendent” aspect to true bliss that ultimately can’t be ignored. Still, starting out a personal quest for happiness with ambitious, yet vague resolutions is often a recipe for failure. So is taking the tack once recommended by John Stuart Mill: dismissing all doubts as to whether you are, in fact, happy. The American emphasis on chasing personal happiness, Rubin believes, is overall a healthy and natural thing.
So what makes Rubin herself happy? Well, many of the usual things: family, fulfilling career, and so on. But in the end, it’s about refusing to be anything less than yourself)—which, in her case, means owning up to a continuing obsession with “Anne of Green Gables.”
Love. Sex. Space. Coke. (Coke?) Discretion. Indiscretion. Family. Fame. Privacy. Puppies. The Rolling Stones. One man’s happiness is, axiomatically, not another’s, and so the riddle of what brings us peace […]