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What is happiness?
Gretchin Rubin sought to find out in a year long project that she named The Happiness Project.
I finally read the book, after years of seeing it in my news feed. For some reason, the word “happiness” doesn’t resonate with me. Perhaps it’s been overused in trite ways. Or, perhaps I just thought it sounded to fluffy to describe the deepness and richness of live and work.
But, I gave it a read and found the stories and insights valuable. You should give it a read.
I share a few insights in this episode, as well as what I mean by the term “secret happiness.”
For this, and more episodes about offering up your best work, go to https://pod.co/move-your-desk and subscribe through your favorite podcast service.
Episode 88 Show Notes
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Episode 88 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark Episode 88. The Secret Happiness. This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? Years ago I had a roommate named Susan, and Susan had a different sleep schedule than I had at that time or anytime, for that matter. She was a night owl, and I was kind of someone who burned both ends of the candle. I’d stay up late and I get up early because I didn’t want to waste any time sleeping. I will say that I’m not that way now. I prefer to get up early on. I prefer to get a solid sleep, and I do not feel like I’m wasting time by sleeping. It’s taken a long time for me to learn how important sleep is, but I’ve got the message. So anyway, Susan is one of these people with a great personality. She’s very witty and very calm, and she is great art. She’s great design. She’s great at acting, and I don’t even know all of her talents. Actually, those are the first things that come to mind. She’s very deep in her thinking, and she deeply cares about people. And she’s very open on Facebook with how she’s struggled with anxiety and depression, time to time. And I’m glad that she’s still on Facebook because there was a moment in time where she said she was going to get off for whatever reason. And I know that some of you and many of my friends have made this decision along the way, and some have actually gotten off social networks, and then they come back at a later time because ultimately there are some family and friends that make the interactions worth it. So I’m particularly grateful that Susan decided to stay on Facebook because she decided to channel some of her thoughts and learning into a Facebook group where she shared some spiritual messages and insights and where she also shares some of the things she’s working through in her life. And so thank goodness Susan is out there sharing. One morning I met Susan at this intersection between the bedroom and the living room in the hallway, and it was memorable to me still, because she walked toward me, and she wasn’t really looking at me. But in her eyes and her smile, it was clear that she was thinking about something that made her tremendously happy. And in that moment it made me happy. And I blurted out, Do you have a secret happiness? And she broke out into laughter is like Yes, yes, I dio And it still makes me happy to even think of this moment because she was so sincerely happy and then to have me walk along and notice. It kind of brought this little secret happiness to both of us. And so that became a phrase that I have used throughout life when I have this moment of appreciation or moment of joy just thinking about something, or if I look at someone and it just looks like they’re having this moment where there truly thinking about something that makes them happy and how simple it is. But yet how remarkable. Not only that we can find this in our mind just sitting there, but also that as human beings, we can notice that in someone else in any given moment, if we want to, and that we can also notice that there’s other emotions going on. Happiness is a word that I don’t really find appealing, and that may sound kind of odd, but I feel like it’s overused. Perhaps, and because of that, it doesn’t resonate with me most of time when people use it in marketing or in book titles or in movie titles or in quotes like I just it doesn’t resonate with me and I don’t know, maybe I think it’s too fluffy, even though I know that happiness is a very deep concept. Even if you look up the definition of happiness, it doesn’t really bring up results that resonate with me, either. Here’s one saying Happiness is announced The state of being happy, okay or content having pleasure. Here’s another definition from vocabulary dot com. Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. It’s the opposite of sadness. Happiness is a sense of well being joy or contentment. When people are successful or safe or lucky, they feel happiness. No one ever complained about feeling too much happiness and Miriam Webster one feeling or showing pleasure to enjoying a conditioner situation. Three. Joyful four Fortunate sense like I’m lucky meeting them. It was a happy occurrence. Five. Being suitable for something. But these things are so very subjective still. But when you get into psychology, happiness is more than just a positive mood. It’s people’s evaluations of their lives and encompasses both cognitive judgements of satisfaction and effective appraisals of moods and emotions. And that’s from positive psychology dot com. Because there’s actually a degree in how about positive psychology and happiness and that kind of thing. And I read a book recently about happiness that I’ve been putting off because it was called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The title just didn’t draw me to it, even though the word project did, because I love projects. But the Happiness project just sounded too wishy washy and fluffy to me, right? This is all what I was making it mean, but I bothered to read it the other day, and it’s a great book. Gretchen engaged in a year off, striving to bring more happiness into her life, and what she did was to choose a topic for each month that she would work on, and within that topic, she would choose four or five areas that were important to take action on, and there are too many details to share here. But I’ll at least walk through the topics for the months to give you an idea. So January she wanted to boost energy. February Remember Love March? Aim higher. April. Lighten up. May be serious about play. June. Make time for friends July by some happiness that deals with money and buying things that you love. August. Contemplate the heavens. September. Pursue a passion October Pay attention. November Keep a contented heart and December boot camp Perfect. Along with this, she had kind of these 12 Commandments that she wanted to live by as she went about incorporating happiness in herself and her family and her work, How she interacted with the world thes 12 Commandments were one Ba Gretchen to let go three acts the way I want to feel for do it now. Five. Be polite and be fair. Six. Enjoy the process. Seven. Spend out. Eight. Identify the problem. Nine. Lighten up. 10. Do what ought to be done. 11. No calculation. 12. There is only love. As I was reading through this book, I had so many thoughts and insights, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed hearing her stories, even if she was talking about a concept I already knew or had embraced or something. I was actually an expert in applying in my life. It was wonderful. They hear from a different angle how someone was experiencing this and noticing the strengths and weaknesses she was bringing to the equation of figuring out what happiness meant for her. Now she is a writer, and she’s a lawyer by trade. And so she delved into this project very seriously. Like she read hundreds of books in the process about happiness, psychology, money, religion. All these things that she explored these different topics is part of her happiness and good for her, right, like she wasn’t just treating this like, Oh, I kind of want to feel good one day. She sincerely wanted to change how she showed up in life and in her relationships, and what I really liked is how in this process she started to become more aware and notice how she would nag her husband for things, and she started to realize that it was a nagging. She’s like, Why am I acting this way? Why? I’m reacting to my child in this way. Why am I having this response to this person I’m talking to at a party. And she noticed that as she worked through this project, she didn’t nag as much because she wasn’t bringing all of her expectations to someone else. She really went inward and decided it was all about changing herself. And of course, that’s something we know. When we learned about coaching, when we learned in psychology and teaching and all of these different professions, we know that if you want to change anything in the world, it’s best to focus on noticing what you need to changing yourself. And there is a natural ripple effect that comes from focusing on that, not trying to focus on changing others but toward changing ourselves and what I really like is Gretchen learned through this process and therefore was helpful and reminding me, as I read it, how important it is to honor your true feelings. And if you don’t like your true feelings to take the time toe work on them and find out why you feel that way and what you can change about yourself so that you can show up better so you can have more happiness as you interact with others. She became very true to herself in different situations and not in a way of saying, Oh, you’ve breached a boundary with me or something, but saying Hey, I’ve been pretending I’m okay with this. And now I’m telling you, I’m actually not okay with this. And I wanna work on this by myself or with someone or whatever. And it was refreshing in that way to see someone that was so accomplished in life and had all these other possibilities deciding to consciously work on creating happier life. And as she says herself, it’s not like she had this massive crisis. She wasn’t massively overweight or really sick or had this huge crisis in her life that triggered this. She just decided that she could be better. Then she was currently acting or thinking or feeling, and this could be a valuable lesson for most of us. Toe learn from. We should be able to continue to work on our personal growth even in times that seem okay or even great to people around us. Some people think, Oh, you have everything going for you. Well, maybe the person doesn’t. Maybe they aren’t stepping into their best self. Maybe they aren’t offering up their best work. Maybe they’re a little bit on autopilot. Or maybe they have so much more potential than they’re settling. And so kudos for anyone that is comfortable and decides to put themselves into some discomfort toward personal growth and changed. Another idea she talked about was not to expect praise or appreciation. She realized that when she did things, she was expecting her spouse to say, Oh, what a great job or, oh, thank you for doing that and that sometimes the spouse just didn’t notice or didn’t think it was that amazing or thought they had already expressed their appreciation and didn’t realize that Gretchen wasn’t feeling the love or the praise. She wanted a gold star for everything that maybe is okay if she gave herself a gold star for just doing whatever she did, and it was okay if someone else didn’t do that for her, Another idea was keeping happy memories vivid, making sure that a scrapbook or a blogger or, you know, once a week, sitting down and writing down Some of the great experiences or things that happened could be a worthy goal or worthy habit to make time for, because it could be referenced and reviewed personally or with a family member, a friend, to bring up the good memories in life. And that also instigates gratitude when we remember. Yes, we’ve had some good experiences. Yes, we’ve had some good times in our life. She decided that happiness, you know, to be happy. I need to think about feeling good and feeling bad and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth. And I love that because to be happy, she need to think about feeling good, so generating positive emotions, but also think about what was bringing on the negative emotions. And could she remove the sources of negative emotions or learn how to deal with them differently? Have mawr self respect, less self loathing, mawr compassion when she didn’t live up to her own expectations and about feeling right, And that means living the life you’re meant to lead, that you’re on the right track, that you are going in the direction that you feel is right for you and not living a life that you feel disconnected from or that isn’t actually right for you, right? You may be doing it because it made more money or gave more prestige or put you in a certain neighborhood or place, and that would be dishonoring or being dishonest with yourself. So making sure that you are feeling right about the choices you’re making. And of course, we hear a lot about how we’re born enough and were born worthy. But even so, being born enough for born worthy or being born capable doesn’t mean we just sit on our laurels and not do anything right. So her comment about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right in the context of an atmosphere of growth is an important addition to the sentence. I think because creating an atmosphere where we’re always growing and learning and improving is not only rewarding, but it helps us show up as an example for those around us who may think that they don’t have time for growth or they don’t deserve to seek what they actually want and that creating an atmosphere of growth is absolutely essential is a human being for us to offer up our best work. I love the quote she shared from Mark Twain and unease. E conscience is a hair in the mouth. Uh huh, uh, so true, Right? It’s such a small thing. Almost intangible, right? Ah, hair in the mouth. I mean, it’s very hard to see these things when they’re in the air by themselves as a single strand. But, wow, the discomfort it can cause if you get a piece of hair in your mouth and how our conscience can feel off if we’re not pursuing the right path, if we’re not making the right choices, if we’re being dishonest and our dealings with self or others and the hair in the mouth teaches you something right, teaches you there’s something in the way that’s causing a ruckus for you, and you want to get it out immediately and how our conscience can feel that same way and how important it is to address that in our conscience. Because if not, there’s a snowball effect that has an impact on how we show up in the world and with others in our lives that can bring up all kinds of negative emotions and, of course, in the context of work, she talked about how all kinds of studies show that happy people perform better than less happy people, and it sounds so simple. But those who are generally happy are better. Leaders are easier to work with and are less likely to be involved and counterproductive behavior. I love that I realized that I have not shared with you very many insights from books I read. And yet I’m an avid reader. I don’t have a great vocabulary. I don’t have these amazing theories that I am creating, and I don’t remember half of what I read. But I do love reading these kinds of books. Books that teach us how to up level are thinking in lives and our work to show up better as our best self, or to at least work on it and improve our awareness. So anything to do with psychology and communications and self help and all the sciences so interesting to read, and I encourage you thio take time to read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I hardly even scratch the surface of all of the great down to earth insights that she shared in this book, so I hope you read it or listen to. It is it’s worth the time. It takes a few hours and just pull a few nuggets to try out in your life, and I’m betting as you do so you will have more moments of secret happiness and maybe someone will notice. Have a great week. Work on the happiness. Offer up your best work. I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at. Move your desk dot com. See you next Monday. Mhm.