Monday, January 30, 2012

Some thoughts on happiness (adapted from Gretchen Rubin)

Okay, I promise this is the last time I will mention Alt Summit.  For a while.

I've struggled to decide what information from Alt to share and pass on to you.  I want it to be useful and meaningful, even if you're not a blogger, or even the creative type.

In the last week, I guess the answer has presented itself, because among the amazing eye-opening advice I sat through (and furiously scribbled in my notebook), the things that have popped in my head the most have come from the final keynote speech by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.  This is not to downplay the rest of the Alt-ness floating in there too, I have food for thought to last until next year :).

I know the reason a few of Gretchen's points resonated with me has to do with the fact that I have reached similar conclusions on points and it was gratifying to hear them spoken out loud by someone else.  My embarrassing confession is that I haven't read her book (yet).  For all I know, everything I'm about to say is contained in those pages, but nevertheless.  It meant something to me, and I hope it will mean something to you too.

Her keynote was peppered with great humor, insight, and advice, but mainly it was about her own quest to be happier.  From her own journey, as detailed in her book, we can pull out certain truths about humanity and happiness.

The first thing that resonated with me was the fact that making others happy, makes us happy.  Everytime.  The funny thing about it is this: it's easier to make others happy when we are ourselves happy, but the return is always the same when you make others happy: happiness!

Secondly, outer order contributes to inner calm.  Yes, it's somewhat of an allusion, but not necessarily a bad one.  The need to settle my daily life/work balance has moved to the forefront of my list lately because I notice little things that make my life harder in small ways that could easily be taken care of with a bit more organization (ouch).

Alright, here's the big one.  The one I've spent the most time thinking about this week...You can only build your life on your nature and your values.  Own who you are and you will be more happy.  Admit your limits.  Gretchen told a story about music.  She had wanted to be a lover of music and had spent a lot of time and energy in her life trying to muster up a love for music that just wasn't there.  It was sad, but freeing to admit that she just didn't really care about music.  How many things have we been spending our time and energy on that we just want to like, or want to be good at, but really aren't?  Knowing yourself is actually really hard, but we can start by eliminating the things that we know deep down in our hearts really aren't us.

 And lastly, the most important things in life can't be measured. Sounds like a Hallmark card, but the point is we are drawn to things we can measure such as money, health, blog stats (ahem!). We spend a lot of time on these things because they equate to a physical number.  The things that will make us the most happy though, can't be found on the list of things that equate to a number (building relationships, spirituality, relaxation, etc.).  Gretchen suggested finding what those immeasurable things are for you and making an actual appointment to do them. 

A lot to think about, right?  I would love to hear your thoughts on Gretchen's insights as presented (rather sloppily!) here, or from the book. 

Three cheers for more happiness!

P.S. Find the book here.

photo credits: one / two / three


  1. I'm actually in the middle of her book now. Her examples drawn from her daily life it's written in a very humorous way and also easily identifiable (sp?). I am having fun reading her book, and jot down alot of notes too.

  2. I haven't read her book yet but I'd like too. I appreciate you sharing your notes and thoughts. All good things that I need to work on.

  3. This book is one of the best that I've ever read. One that I'll look forward to reading again and again. It's amazing how much good stuff she packed in there.

  4. I too took fast and furious notes during her keynote. More than I took during all the other panels combined I'm sure. She hit so many points that resonated with me...and it looks like you too! I'm so glad she spoke this year. It was nice to break things up a bit with something relevant to everyone.

  5. I have seen this book before, but you have made me more curious. I may just have to pick it up. Thanks