Editor’s note: What does somebody who spent a year test-driving principles, tips, theories, and scientific studies on happiness think are the real keys to happiness? That’s what I wanted to know. This is a guest post on lessons learned in happiness by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is a best selling author and former lawyer. What’s interesting to me about Gretchen is that she studied happiness by making it a project. During The Happiness Project, Gretchen spent a year test-driving lessons in happiness from Aristotle to Oprah. In her new book, The Happiness Project: Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, Gretchen writes about the year she spent studying and testing principles, patterns, and practices for happiness. This post is Gretchen’s top 10 lessons learned in happiness. Enjoy!
Top 10 Lessons Learned in Happiness
These are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned about happiness …
- Lesson 1. First Splendid Truth: To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
These are the elements of happiness. If you want to boost your happiness, try tackling one element. Get more “feeling good,” say. Or eliminate a source of “feeling bad.” Think about whether you “feel right” about the shape of your life. And look for an area in your life where you can create “an atmosphere of growth.”
- Lesson 2. Second Splendid Truth: One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
People often focus on the first half of this statement, but the second half is just as important. It turns out, studies show, that happy people are more altruistic, more likely to volunteer, more interested in other people’s problems, and they are also better leaders and better able to bring about changes, when they try to do so.
- Lesson 3. Third Splendid Truth: The days are long, but the years are short.
Check out my one-minute internet movie about this: http://www.theyearsareshort.com/
- Lesson 4. Fourth Splendid Truth: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
- Lesson 5. Your body matters.
It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overlook! Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, get some sunshine, go to a doctor if you need to.
- Lesson 6. Happiness is other people.
Philosophers and scientists agree: a KEY to happiness is strong relationships with other people. Building strong bonds should be one of your top priorities in life.
- Lesson 7. Outer order contributes to inner calm.
For most people, making an effort to keep surroundings in decent order really pays off in happiness.
- Lesson 8. Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.
- Lesson 9. You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.
To make a happy life, you need to know yourself and acknowledge your own nature. For some people, this is a real challenge.
- Lesson 10. “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” –Robert Louis Stevenson.
Photo by Capture Queen.