Gretchen Rubin is a happiness expert. She spends her time researching and writing about happiness. From her research, Gretchen Rubin has developed eight principles of happiness. She calls these principles “Splendid Truths of Happiness”.
I’ve listed each of the “Splendid Truths” below. I’ve given a title to each one that sums up what that truth is all about. Under each truth, I have included my favourite quotes on happiness by Gretchen Rubin. Which quote is your favourite?
It’s All About Mindset
The First Splendid Truth: “To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”
It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.
According to current research, in the determination of a person’s level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.
A happy home wasn’t a place that I could furnish, but an attitude of mind I must develop.
Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative.
One major challenge within happiness is loneliness. The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.
If I can do something in less than one minute, I don’t let myself procrastinate. I hang up my coat, put newspapers in the recycling, scan and toss a letter. Ever since I wrote about this rule in ‘The Happiness Project,’ I’ve been amazed by how many people have told me that it has made a huge difference in their lives.
People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think.
Your Mood is Contagious
The 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.”
Studies show that in a phenomenon called “emotional contagion,” we unconsciously catch emotions from other people—whether good moods or bad ones. Taking the time to be silly means that we’re infecting one another with good cheer, and people who enjoy silliness are one third more likely to be happy.
Studies show that one of the best ways to lift your mood is to engineer an easy success, such as tackling a long-delayed chore.
I realized that for my own part, I was much more likely to take risks, reach out to others, and expose myself to rejection and failure when I felt happy. When I felt unhappy, I felt defensive, touchy, and self-conscious.
Happy people generally are more forgiving, helpful, and charitable, have better self-control, and are more tolerant of frustration than unhappy people, while unhappy people are more often withdrawn, defensive, antagonistic, and self-absorbed.
Although people sometimes assume that the happy are self-absorbed and complacent, just the opposite is true. In general, happiness doesn’t make people want to drink daiquiris on the beach; it makes them want to help rural villagers gain better access to clean water.
People assume that a person who acts happy must feel happy, but although it’s in the very nature of happiness to seem effortless and spontaneous, it often takes great skill.
Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness. In one of those life-isn’t-fair results, it turns out that the happy outperform the less happy. Happy people work more hours each week – and they work more in their free time, too.
Happy people tend to be more cooperative, less self-centered, and more willing to help other people—say, by sharing information or pitching in to help a colleague—and then, because they’ve helped others, others tend to help them. Also, they work better with others, because people prefer to be around happier people, who are also less likely to show the counterproductive behaviors of burnout, absenteeism, counter-and non-productive work, work disputes, and retaliatory behavior than are less happy people.
The Third Splendid Truth: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
The things that go wrong often make the best memories.
In many ways, the happiness of having children falls into the kind of happiness that could be called fog happiness. Fog is elusive. Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes. Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don’t really seem to bring much happiness at all—yet somehow they do.
To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.
Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.
While some more passive forms of leisure, such as watching TV or surfing the Internet, are fun in the short term, over time, they don’t offer nearly the same happiness as more challenging activities.
There are no do overs and some things just aren’t going to happen. It is a little sad but you just have to embrace what is.
One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good.
Many people keep photos in their homes, in their office, or in their wallet, and happy families tend to display large numbers of photos at home. In ‘Happier at Home,’ I write about my ‘shrine to my family’ made of photographs.
One thing I wish I could tell my younger self: take photos of everyday life, not special occasions; later, that’s what will be interesting to you.
Allow Yourself to be Happy
The Fourth Splendid Truth: “You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.”
Experts say that denying bad feelings intensifies them, acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return.
According to current research, in the determination of a person’s level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts. In other words, people have an inborn disposition that’s set within a certain range, but they can boost themselves to the top of their happiness range or push themselves down to the bottom of their happiness range by their actions.
When I thought about why I was sometimes reluctant to push myself, I realized that it was because I was afraid of failure – but in order to have more success, I needed to be willing to accept more failure.
I enjoy the fun of failure. It’s fun to fail, I kept repeating. It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.
Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity. When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently.
As goofy as it sounds, I try to sing in the morning. It’s hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone – particularly in my case, because I’m tone deaf, and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity.
Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter, you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.”
We need to have intimate, enduring bonds; we need to be able to confide; we need to feel that we belong; we need to be able to get support, and just as important for happiness, to give support. We need many kinds of relationships; for one thing, we need friends.
The Fifth Splendid Truth: “I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.”
If I pretend to myself that I’m different from the way I truly am, I’m going to make choices that won’t make me happy.
We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.
What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you- and vice versa.
By mindfully deciding how to act in line with my values instead of mindlessly applying my rules, I was better able to make the decisions that supported my happiness.
One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger. Suddenly you can do yoga or make homemade beer or speak a decent amount of Spanish. Research shows that the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.
You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.
Putting myself into categories is fun, and I think it also gives me insight into my own nature. When I see myself more clearly, I can more easily see ways that I might do things differently, to make myself happier. Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse.
Because money permits a constant stream of luxuries and indulgences, it can take away their savor, and by permitting instant gratification, money shortcuts the happiness of anticipation. Scrimping, saving, imagining, planning, hoping–these stages enlarge the happiness we feel.
Focus on What You CAN Control
The Sixth Splendid Truth: “The only person I can change is myself.”
I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change.
Another study suggested that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for a person’s happiness than getting a $60,000 raise.
This is one of the many paradoxes of happiness: we seek to control our lives, but the unfamiliar and the unexpected are important sources of happiness.
My research had revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.
“Keep it simple” wasn’t always the right response. Many things that boosted my happiness also added complexity to my life. Having children. Learning to post videos to my website. Going to an out-of-town wedding. Applied too broadly, my impulse to “Keep it simple” would impoverish me.
Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.
One of my key realizations about happiness, and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists, given its emphasis in popular culture, is that outer order contributes to inner calm. More than it should.
Remember, the reason to clear clutter is because, somehow, that clutter is diminishing your happiness.
Your Happiness is Your Responsibility
The Seventh Splendid Truth: “Happy people make people happy, but I can’t make someone be happy and no one else can make me happy.”
Look for happiness under your own roof.
Of course, it’s not enough to sit around wanting to be happy; you must make the effort to take steps toward happiness by acting with more love, finding work you enjoy, and all the rest. But for me, asking myself whether I was happy had been a crucial step toward cultivating my happiness more wisely through my actions. Also, only through recognizing my happiness did I really appreciate it. Happiness depends partly on external circumstances, and it also depends on how you view those circumstances.
“Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.” Activities that contribute to long-term happiness don’t always make me feel good in the short term; in fact, they’re sometimes downright unpleasant.
Studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.
Volunteering to help others is the right thing to do, and it also boosts personal happiness; a review of research by the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that those who aid the causes they value tend to be happier and in better health. They show fewer signs of physical and mental aging. And it’s not just that helpful people also tend to be healthier and happier; helping others causes happiness.
During my study of happiness, I noticed something that surprised me: I often learn more from one person’s highly idiosyncratic experiences than I do from sources that detail universal principles or cite up-to-date studies.
Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.
Be Present in the Moment
The Eighth Splendid Truth: “Now is now.”
Any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it.
I am living my real life, this is it. Now is now, and if I waited to be happier, waited to have fun, waited to do the things that I know I ought to do, I might never get the chance.
It’s so easy to wish that we’d made an effort in the past, so that we’d happily be enjoying the benefit now, but when now is the time when that effort must be made, as it always is, that prospect is much less inviting.
When I find myself focusing overmuch on the anticipated future happiness of arriving at a certain goal, I remind myself to ‘Enjoy now’. If I can enjoy the present, I don’t need to count on the happiness that is (or isn’t) waiting for me in the future.
First of all, by the time you’ve arrived at your destination, you’re expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness. Also, arrival often brings more work and responsibility. It’s rare to achieve something (other than winning an award) that brings unadulterated pleasure without added concerns. Having a baby. Getting a promotion. Buying a house. You look forward to reaching these destinations, but once you’ve reached them, they bring emotions other than sheer happiness.
In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.
While television is a good servant, it’s a bad master. It can swallow up huge quantities of our lives without much happiness bang for the buck.
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!