Pursuing Happiness: Gretchen Rubin Interview

When I started blogging, Gretchen’s Happiness Project was one of the first sites I found. Her daily posts inspired me to turn Someday Syndrome into my own happiness project. Through her writings, I realized that life is about rigorously pursuing happiness and that for me, true deep happiness (and not mere gratification) arrived when I got rid of the word someday from my life.

Who: Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project
Gretchen Rubin is a writer who is working on a book, The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture about how to be happy—on her blog, http://www.happiness-project.com, she writes about her daily adventures as she tries to be happier.

What variety of Someday Syndrome affected you the most? In what way?
One morning a few years ago, as I was riding the city bus, it occurred that what I wanted in life was “to be happy,” but I never spent any time thinking about happiness, or how I could be happier.

How did it affect the rest of your life?
Because I didn’t reflect much on happiness, I didn’t appreciate the happiness that I possessed, and I didn’t take active steps to become happier.

How would you describe your happiness level at that time?
I was pretty happy, but not as happy as I could have been—and should have been.

What changed? Was it gradual or did it come as an epiphany? Perhaps a mix the two?
I had an epiphany—a lightning-bolt moment when I realized that I had to think about my happiness NOW and start working toward it. I couldn’t keep telling myself that “someday” I’d make time for fun, or do family projects with my children, or read more, or write a novel. I needed to make time for my priorities NOW.

What dream are you in the process of realizing?
Writing my book about happiness – and spreading the word that yes, having a Happiness Project can make you happier!

How would you describe your happiness level now?
I’m happier than I was before I started. I’m also more considerate, less hot-tempered, and have more fun. I get more sleep and more exercise. I take more photos.

What advice would you give someone in the position you were in before?
Remember not to wait until “someday” to pursue your priorities. You’ll never have any “free time” – you have to MAKE time for the things you want to do.

Someday Lessons:

  • You might think your life is great, but without conscious choices, how can you be sure?
  • You can either have lots of time or not enough time – it’s simply a matter of choice.
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16 thoughts on “Pursuing Happiness: Gretchen Rubin Interview

  1. Al at 7P says:

    Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorite bloggers. She also did a short Internet video that was really nice (link).

    I can’t seem to get to it, so here’s a YouTube link to the same movie.

    Al at 7P’s last blog post..The Hero with a Thousand Jobs

  2. Alex Fayle says:

    Yes, it is a great video. I’ve watched it a few times.

    Thanks for the links, Al.

    Cheers,
    Alex

  3. steph says:

    She’s actually one of the first bloggers I found too. I had no clue what I was doing back then, so subscribing was something I was wary of and likely didn’t even know how to do. Like other sites, hers was bookmarked but forgotten. Thanks for reminding me, Alex!

    The message here and on her blog is clear. Happiness is a choice. The sooner you make other choices to that end, the sooner you will have the life you imagine.

    steph’s last blog post..No Lamb For the Lazy Wolf

  4. “You can either have lots of time or not enough time – it’s simply a matter of choice.” This is so true! We all have the same 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – but what we choose to do with that time can make all the difference in the world!

    Janet Barclay’s last blog post..To-Do Lists: Love ‘em or Hate ‘em?

  5. Alex Fayle says:

    @Steph & Janet
    Yes, that’s why I love Gretchen’s site so much – it’s all about choice.

  6. It is very easy to get wrapped up in ‘what must be done’ and forge ahead without stopping to smell the proverbial roses. Actually, stopping to smell the roses is something I have learned from the Lion. To be honest, in the beginning he drove me nuts because I would have a plan of What Must Be Done and he would de-rail my plan by putting on some music to dance to, or grab me to walk around the garden. But then I realized that by doing so, we always went back to What Must Be Done with a smile on our faces and renewed energy.

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..The evolution of dance

  7. Alex Fayle says:

    @UP
    Yes, it’s amazing how productive we can be when we first go off in a different direction, eh?

  8. Davina says:

    “Getting rid of someday”; I’m liking that concept!
    It’s the same idea as being in the NOW. If you’re not worrying about the past or the future, it is so much easier to shut off that chatterbox mind and just be happy.

    Davina’s last blog post..I Dreamt I Died

  9. Hi Alex,

    I totally agree with what Gretchen said. We have to MAKE time. Too often people say, “I’ll TAKE time to do this or that or whatever”. No, if it’s important to us, we have to MAKE time.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..NBOTW – He Had Me With “Hello”

  10. Alex Fayle says:

    @Davina
    For me, living in the now is not quite enough – when I live in the now I do so obsessively (I tend to do everything slightly obsessively) and I forget about things that I want to achieve in the future. By focusing on getting rid of someday I end up with an eye to the future as well as acting in the moment.

    @Barbara
    I like the distinction between TAKING time and MAKING time – the first sounds like an obligation and the second an active choice.

  11. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Alex – great interview. I’ve seen Gretchen’s name in the blogosphere before and I’ll definitely be taking a closer look at her blog.

    In the past, I’ve been robbing my own happiness bank account and telling myself happiness will be my reward later, for the work I do now. It’s a crazy way to live.

  12. Alex- I did not know of her, thanks for bringing Gretchen Rubin to my attention. Happy can sound like a narcissistic lark, but truly looking for bone deep joy, I can get on board with that. I love her concept and have bookmarked her site for when I have time to read.

    Color for you, happy for me; not a bad swap that. 🙂

    Virtual hugs from me to you.

    ( And let me say once again, I just love your new digs. )

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Fresh Color

  13. Alex Fayle says:

    @Cath
    That sounds like the free time banking that happens in Momo – Michael Ende’s other (and better) well-known children’s book (he wrote the Never-Ending Story).

    @Janice
    Yes, I like Gretchen’s distinction – the narcissistic lark is gratification, whereas happiness is a bone deep joy as you say.

    (And let me say once again – thanks!)

  14. Rita says:

    Alex,

    That was an excellent interview – both the questions and the responses. One thing I’ve ALWAYS wanted to ask you, but didn’t know how to phrase it…I think I got it now.

    If a person focuses on becoming happy, and does NOT use the “someday syndrome,” can we run the risk of occasionally missing those moments of happiness that come to us randomly? Or will those moments just come to us anyway?

    Thanks,

    Rita

    Rita’s last blog post..Touch Base Tuesday

  15. Alex Fayle says:

    @Rita
    Good question! I’m a very random person and so end up with both good and bad moments that I wasn’t expecting. I use the bad ones to learn from and I simply enjoy the good ones.

  16. Alex,
    Gretchen was one of the first Bloggers I ever found and her video is great, I hope everyone will go to her site and take a few minutes to watch it.

    Great interview. Her take on happiness is one I can agree with. Often people chase happiness from a materialistic point of view and I find that sad.

    Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations’s last blog post..For the Love of Words

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