The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

June 23, 2020

 

1: January – Boost Energy

  • “…research shows, being happy energizes you, and at the same time, having more energy makes it easier for you to engage in activities – like socializing and exercise – that boost happiness. Studies also show that when you feel energetic, your self-esteem rises.”
  • “For my physical energy: I needed to make sure that I got enough sleep and enough exercise.”
  • “For my mental energy: I needed to tackle my apartment and office, which felt oppressively messy and crowded.”

Exercise Better.

  • “Among other benefits, people who exercise are healthier, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. Regular exercise boosts energy “
  • “In Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness, he argues that the most effective way to judge whether a particular course of action will make you happy in the future is to ask people who are following that course of action right now if they’re happy and assume that you’ll feel the same way.”
  • “The repetitive activity of walking, studies show, triggers the body’s relaxation response and so helps reduce stress; at the same time, even a quick ten-minute walk provides an immediate energy boost and improves mood”
  • “as a minimum of activity for good health, people should aim to take 10,000 steps a day”

Toss, Restore, Organize.

  • “Although people like to believe they like to have lots of choices, in fact, having too many choices can be discouraging. Instead of making people feel more satisfied, a wide range of options can paralyze them.”
  • “When you buy any kind of device, put the cords, the manual, all that stuff in a Ziploc bag. You avoid having a big tangle of mystery cords, plus when you get rid of the device, you can get rid of the ancillary parts, too.”
  • “following my Fourth Commandment, ‘Do it now,’ I started to apply the ‘one-minute rule’; I didn’t postpone any task that could be done in less than a minute.”

Tackle a Nagging Task.

  • “An important aspect of happiness is managing your moods, and 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.”

Act More Energetic.

  • “Act the way I want to feel.”
  • “The philosopher and psychologist William James explained, ‘Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not,’”
  • “’It is by studying little things,’ wrote Samuel Johnson, ‘that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.’”

 

2: February

  • “marital satisfaction drops substantially after the first child arrives.”
  • “’Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ for their destructive role in relationships: stonewalling, defensiveness, criticism, and contempt.”
  • “…happy people find it easier to get and stay married than unhappy people do, because happy people make better dates and easier spouses. But marriage itself also brings happiness, because it provides the support and companionship that everyone needs.”
  • “I had come to understand one critical fact about my happiness project: I couldn’t change anyone else.”
  • “Studies show that the most common sources for conflict among couples are money, work, sex, communication, religion, children, in-laws, appreciation, and leisure activities.”
  • ‘It’s easy to be heavy: hard to be light’
  • “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Quit Nagging.

  • “…unconscious overclaiming,’ the phenomenon in which we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people.”

Fight Right.

  • “Fighting style is very important to the health of a marriage; research shows that how a couple fights matters more than how much they fight. Couples who fight right tackle only one difficult topic at a time, instead of indulging in arguments that cover every grievance since the first date.”
  • “They know how to bring an argument to an end, instead of keeping it going for hours. The make ‘repair attempts’ by using words or actions to keep bad feelings from escalating. They recognize other pressures imposed on a spouse.”
  • “In marriage, its less important to have many pleasant experiences than it is to have fewer unpleasant experiences because people have a ‘negativity bias’; our reactions to bad events are faster, stronger, and stickier than our reactions to good events.”
  • “It takes at least five positive marital actions to offset one critical or destructive action, so one way to strengthen a marriage is to make sure that the positive far outweighs the negative.”

No Dumping.

  • “there’s an intriguing difference in how men and women approach intimacy. Although men and women agree that sharing activities and self-disclosure are important, women’s idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting alongside someone.”
  • “for both men and women – and this finding struck me as highly significant – the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women. Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference.”
  • “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. Oscar Wilde observed, ‘One is not always happy when one is good; but one is always good when one is happy.’”
  • “’…health concordance,’ partners’ health behaviors tend to merge, as they pick up good or bad habits from each other related to eating, exercising, visiting doctors, smoking, and drinking.”

Give Proofs of Love.

  • “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.’ Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my actions.”
  • “Hugging relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain.”
  • “if you want to know how people would like to be treated, its more helpful to look at how they themselves act than what they say.”
  • ‘Act the way I want to feel.’
  • “The more readily you respond to a spouse’s bids for attention, the stronger your marriage – but it’s easy to fall into bad habits.”
  • “One way to make sure that you’re paying attention to your spouse is to spend time alone together, and marriage experts universally advise that couples have frequent child-free ‘date nights.’”
  • “leave at least three things unsaid each day”
  • “never criticize each other for more than one thing at a time.”
  • “each married couple should have an outdoor game, like tennis or golf, and an indoor game, like Scrabble or gin, that they play together.”
  • “There’s no evidence for the belief that ‘letting off steam’ is healthy or constructive. In fact, studies show that aggressively expressing anger doesn’t relieve anger but amplifies it. On the other hand, not expressing anger often allows it to disappear without leaving ugly traces.”
  • “To be happy, I needed to generate more positive emotions, so that I increased the amount of joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, gratitude, intimacy, and friendship in my life. That wasn’t hard to understand. I also needed to remove sources of bad feelings, so that I suffered less guilt, remorse, shame, anger, envy, boredom, and irritation.”
  • “I also needed to consider feeling right.”
  • “’Feeling right’ was a trickier concept: it was the feeling that I’m living the life that I’m supposed to lead.”
  • “’Feeling right’ is about living the life that’s right for you – in occupation, location, marital status, and so on. It’s also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself.”
  • “’Happiness,’ wrote Yeats, ‘is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.’ Contemporary researchers make the same argument: that it isn’t goal attainment but the process of striving after goals – that is, growth – that brings happiness.”
  • “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”
  • “When thinking about happiness in marriage, you may have an almost irresistible impulse to focus on your spouse, to emphasize how he or she should change in order to boost your happiness. But the fact is, you can’t change anyone but yourself.”

 

3: March

  • “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. They 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 nonproductive work, work disputes, and retaliatory behavior that are less happy people.”
  • “Happier people also make more effective leaders.”
  • “People who love their work bring an intensity and enthusiasm that’s impossible to match through sheer diligence.”
  • “Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”
  • “Erasmus observed, ‘The chief happiness for a man is to be what he is,’”

Launch a Blog.

  • “My research has revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. If you do new things – you’re more apt to feel happy than people who stick to more familiar activities.”
  • “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. What’s more, because novelty requires more work from the brain, dealing with novel situations evokes more intense emotional responses and makes the passage of time seem slower and richer.”
  • “People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think.”
  • “One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger.”
  • “Research shows that the more elements make up your personality, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.”

Enjoy the Fun of Failure.

  • “Between the ages of twenty and forty, we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”

 

Ask for Help.

  • “forming a ‘community of aspirants’ or, in less elaborate terms, a ‘goals group.’”

Work Smart.

  • “spent some time thinking about how to boost my efficiency.”
  • “I changed the way I thought about productive time.”
  • “I started to push myself to squeeze in an extra fifteen minutes somewhere during the day.”
  • “I found a small way to make my office more pleasant.”

Enjoy Now.

  • “the ‘arrival fallacy,’ the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you’ll be happy.”
  • “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.”
  • “The challenge, is to take pleasure in the ‘atmosphere of growth,’ in the gradual progress made toward a goal, in the present.”
  • “If you’re doing something that you don’t enjoy and you don’t have the gratification of success, failure is particularly painful. But doing what you love is itself the reward.”
  • “To enjoy now, there was something else I was going to have to master: my dread of criticism. Too much concern about whether I was getting praise or blame, too much anticipatory anxiety about what my detractors would say – those kinds of fears spoiled my pleasure in my work and, what’s more, probably weakened my work.”
  • “We often dislike those whom we’ve hurt.”
  • “There’s a common belief that happiness and ambition are incompatible.”
  • “Studies show that many creative, influential people in the arts and public life score above average in neuroticism (i.e. they have a greater propensity to experience negative emotion); this discontent arguably urges them to higher achievement. Other studies, however, show that people tend to think more flexibly and with more complexity when they’re feeling happy.”
  • “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.”

 

4: April

  • “Marital satisfaction nose-dives after the first child is born and picks up again once the children leave home.”
  • “Spouse, job, work, location – most of the big decisions in life can be reconsidered. Change might be difficult and painful, but it’s possible. But a baby is different. A baby is irrevocable.”

Sing in the Morning.

  • “The most effective way to lighten up – is to make a joke.”
  • “I ‘reframed’ a particular chore by deciding that I enjoyed doing it.”

Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings.

  • “…we should acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings. In other words, don’t deny feelings such as anger, irritation, fear, or reluctance; instead, articulate the feeling and the other person’s point of view. Sounds simple right? Wrong.”
  • Strategies to acknowledge feelings…
    • Write it down.
    • Don’t feel as if I have to say anything.
    • Don’t say ‘no’ or ‘stop.’
    • Wave my magic wand.
    • Admit that a task is difficult.
  • “Experts say that denying bad feelings intensifies them; acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return.”

Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories.

  • “Studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present. When people reminisce, they focus on positive memories, with the result that recalling the past amplifies the positive and minimizes the negative.”
  • “Family traditions make occasions feel special and exciting. They mark the passage of time in a happy way. They provide a sense of anticipation, security, and continuity. Studies show that family traditions support children’s social development and strengthen family cohesiveness. They provide connection and predictability, which people – especially children – crave.”

Take Time for Projects.

  • “We’ve all heard of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. By contrast, I realized, happiness has four stages. 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.”
  • “Any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it.”
  • “In fact, in what’s known as ‘rosy projection,’ anticipation of happiness is sometimes greater than the happiness actually experienced. All the more reason to revel in anticipation.”
  • “confirming happiness research that shows that people get a mood boost from contact with others.”
  • “Each member of a family picks up and reflects everyone else’s emotions”

 

5: May

  • “studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good. One way to feel good is to make time for play – which researchers define as an activity that’s very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn’t create social harm, and doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition.”
  • “people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy.”

 

Find More Fun.

  • “one of my most important Secrets for Adulthood: just because something was fun for someone else didn’t mean it was fun for me – and vice versa.”
  • “If something was really fun for me, it would pass this test: I looked forward to it; I found it energizing, not draining; and I didn’t feel guilty about it later.”
  • “Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship and also brings about a 2 percent increase in life satisfaction.”
  • “Group membership makes people feel closer and brings a significant boost in personal confidence and happiness.”
  • “One of my Secrets of Adulthood is ‘You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.”

Take Time to Be Silly

  • “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 were infecting one another with good cheer, and people who enjoy silliness are one third more likely to be happy.”

Go Off the Path.

  • “I started keeping an ‘Interest Log’ to get a better sense of what naturally caught my attention.”
  • “’Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.’ Proverbs 26:20. Point taken.”

Start a Collection.

  • “every house needs a few junk drawers where you can find unexpected things. It’s good to have a bit of chaos someplace, with some things that don’t really belong anywhere but that you want to keep. You never know when stuff like that will come in handy, plus it’s just nice to know it’s there.”
  • “By the end of May, I’d figured out that ‘fun’ falls into three categories: challenging fun, accommodating fun, and relaxing fun.”
  • “Research shows that challenging fun and accommodating fun, over the long term, brings more happiness, because they’re sources of the elements that make people happiest: strong personal bonds, mastery, an atmosphere of growth. Relaxing fun tends to be passive – by design.”

 

6: June

  • “…having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.”
  • ‘of 24-character strengths, those that best predict life satisfaction are the interpersonal ones.”
  • “You need close long-term relationships, you need to be able to confide in others, you need to belong.”
  • “researchers reported that out of fifteen daily activities, they found only one during which people were happier alone rather than with other people – and that was praying.”

 

Be Generous.

  • “your happiness is often boosted more by providing support to other people than from receiving support yourself.”
  • “Do good, feel good.”

Help People Think Big.

  • “One of the most generous acts, I’ve realized, is to help someone think big. Words of enthusiasm and confidence from a friend can inspire you to tackle an ambitious goal”
  • “The spectacle of virtue inspires the feeling of elevation”
  • “As Simone Weil observed, ‘Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.’”
  • “striving to be happy isn’t a selfish act.”

Cut People Slack.

  • “people’s lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside. That’s why, as part of my resolution to ‘Be generous,’ I meant to cut people slack.”
  • “The ‘fundamental attribution error’ is a psychological phenomenon in which we tend to view other people’s actions as reflections of their characters and to overlook the power of situations in influencing their actions, whereas with ourselves, we recognize the pressures of circumstance.”

Show Up.

  • “a big part of friendship is showing up. Unless you make consistent efforts, your friendships aren’t going to survive.”
  • “The ‘mere exposure effect’ is the term for the fact that repeated exposure makes you like music, faces – even nonsense syllables – better. The more often you see a person, the more intelligent and attractive you’ll find that person.”

Don’t Gossip.

  • “Not infrequently, long-term happiness requires you to give up something that brings happiness in the short term.”
  • “I learned another reason not to say critical things to people: ‘spontaneous trait transference.’ Studies show that because of this psychological phenomenon, people unintentionally transfer to me the traits I ascribe to other people.”

Make Three New Friends.

  • “New friends expand your world by providing an entrance to new interests, opportunities, and activities and can be an invaluable source of support and information”
  • “’Act the way I want to feel.’ By acting more friendly, I made myself feel more friendly. Also, research shows that acting in an outgoing, talkative, adventurous, or assertive way makes people – even introverts – feel happier.”
  • “Within ten minutes of meeting a new person, in fact, people decide what kind of relationship they want.”
  • “you’ll find it easier to befriend someone who is already the friend of a friend.”
  • “Friendship thrives on interconnection, and it’s both energizing and comforting to feel that you’re building not just friendships but a social network.”
  • “my happiness made it easier for me to be patient, cheerful, kind, generous, and all the other qualities I was trying to cultivate. I found it easier to keep my resolutions, laugh off my annoyances, have enough energy for fun.”
  • “On the whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been had I not attempted it.”

 

7: July

  • “Everyone has to make up their mind if money is money or money isn’t money and sooner or later they always do decide that money is money.”
  • “…while the absolute level of wealth matters, relative ranking matters as well.”
  • “…research shows that people who live in a neighborhood with richer people tend to be less happy than those in a neighborhood where the neighbors make about as much money as them.”
  • “three factors that shape the significance of money to individuals”
    • It depends on what kind of person you are.
    • It depends on how you spend your money.
    • It depends on how much money you have relative to the people around you and relative to your own experience.
  • “When money or health is a problem, you think of little else; when it’s not a problem, you don’t think much about it. Both money and health contribute to happiness mostly in the negative; the lack of them brings much more unhappiness than possessing them brings happiness.”
  • “Money is most important for happiness in the ‘feeling bad’ category. People’s biggest worries include financial anxiety, health concerns, job insecurity, and having to do tiring and boring chores. Spent correctly, money can go a long way to solving these problems.”

Indulge in a Modest Splurge.

  • “Studies show that people’s basic psychological needs include the need to feel secure, to feel good at what they do, to be loved, to feel connected to others, and to have a strong sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help.”
  • “Happiness theory suggests that if I move to a new apartment or buy a new pair of boots, I’ll soon become accustomed to my new possession and be no happier than I was before Nevertheless, many people make purchases for the fleeting jolt of happiness they get from the very act of gain.”
  • “What makes me happy is to spend money on the things I value – and it takes self-knowledge and discipline to discover what I really want, instead of parroting the desires of other people.”
  • “A sense of growth is so important to happiness that its often preferable to being progressed to the summit rather than to be at the summit.”

Buy Needful Things.

  • “As Samuel Jackson remarked, ‘To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation.’”
  • “I was also a ‘satisficer’ – as opposed to a ‘maximizer.’ Satisficers (yes, satisficers) are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met.”
  • “Maximizers want to make the optimal decision.”
  • “they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they can make the best possible choice.”

Spend Out.

  • “Saint Therese of Lisieux wrote, ‘When one loves, one does not calculate.’ “
  • “Spend out. Don’t think about the return. ‘It is by spending oneself,’ the actress Sarah Bernhardt remarked, ‘that one becomes rich.’ What’s more, one intriguing study showed that Sarah Bernhardt’s pronouncement is literally true: people who give money to charity end up wealthier than those who don’t give to charity.”
  • “Happiness experts point out that merely making and sticking to a decision is a source of happiness, because it gives you a feeling of control, of efficacy, of responsibility. At times of financial stress in particular, taking control of your finances – even symbolically – can boost your mood because you’re taking steps to control and improve your situation.”
  • “Samuel Butler wrote, ‘Happiness and misery consist in a progression towards better or worse; it does not matter how high up or low down you are, it depends not on this, but on the direction in which you are tending.’”

 

8: August

  • “Studies show that spiritual people are relatively happier; they’re more mentally and physically healthy, deal better with stress, have better marriages, and live longer.”

Keep a Gratitude Notebook.

  • “Research shows that because we measure ourselves relative to others, our happiness is influenced by whether we compare ourselves to people who are better or worse off.”
  • “Gratitude is important to happiness. Studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives; they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising.”
  • “To me, the fascinating aspect of her story was Therese’s achievement of sainthood through the perfection of small, ordinary acts. That was her ‘Little Way’ – holiness achieved in a little way by little souls rather than by great deeds performed by great souls.”
  • “Buddhists talk about ‘skillful’ or ‘unskillful’ emotions, and this has the right connotation of effort and competence. 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.”
  • “…studies show that happier people are more likely to help other people. They’re more interested in social problems. They do more volunteer work and contribute more to charity. Plus, as you’d expect, they’re less preoccupied with their personal problems.”
  • “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.”
  • “for many people, fear of what might happen is a source of great unhappiness – yet they feel there’s a propitiatory virtue in fretting.”

 

9: September

  • “…advice of happiness experts, who advocate periods of deprivation to sharpen pleasures”
  • “…happiness research predicts that making time for a passion and treating it as a real priority instead of an ‘extra’ to be fitted in at a free moment (which many people practically never have)”

Write a Novel

  • “The satisfaction gained from the achievement of a large undertaking is one of the most substantial that life affords.”

 

10: October

Meditate on Koans.

  • “A koan is a question or statement that can’t be understood logically. Zen Buddhist monks meditate on koans as a way to abandon dependence on reason in their pursuit of enlightenment.”

Examine True Rules.

  • “Heuristics are mental rules of thumb, the quick, commonsense principles you apply to solve a problem or make a decision.”

Stimulate the Mind in New Ways

  • “using my brain in unfamiliar ways would enhance my experience of the present moment and my awareness of myself.”
  • “According to research, listening to music is one of the quickest, simplest ways to boost mood and energy and to induce a particular mood.”

 

11: November

  • “I wanted to cultivate a light-hearted, loving, and kind spirit.”
  • “No one is happy who doesn’t think himself happy, so without ‘a heart to be contented,’ a person can’t be happy.”
  • “laugh more.”
  • “A small child typically laughs more than four hundred times each day, and an adult – seventeen times.”
  • “be kinder.”
  • “practice loving-kindness”
  • “improve my manners”
  • “stop being so critical, so judgmental and finicky.”
  • “stay serene and cheerful”
  • “direct my thoughts away from subjects that made me angry or irritable.”

Laugh Out Loud.

  • “If I want to feel happy and lighthearted, I need to act that way.”
  • “I wanted to laugh out loud at myself. I took myself far too seriously.”
  • “it is hard to be light. Joking around takes discipline.”
  • “Responding with laughter meant that I had to give up my pride, my defensiveness, my self-centeredness.”
  • Newcastle Personality Assessor test
    • Extroversion: response to reward
    • Neuroticism: response to a threat
    • Conscientiousness: response to inhibition (self-control, planning)
    • Agreeableness: regard for others
    • Openness to experience: breadth of mental associations
  • “’Nothing,’ wrote Tolstoy, ‘can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.’”
  • “I looked for opportunities to make comments that showed my interest in other people’s viewpoints:
    • “You’re right.”
    • “You have a good memory.”
    • “Tell everyone that story about how you…”
    • “I hadn’t thought about that before.”
    • “I see your point.”
    • “What do you think?”

Give Positive Reviews.

  • “Although enthusiasm seems easy and undiscriminating, in fact, it’s much harder to embrace something than to disdain it. It’s riskier.”
  • “Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.”
  • “A willingness to be pleased requires modesty and even innocence – easy to deride as mawkish and sentimental.”
  • “It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.”

Find an Area of Refuge.

  • “One fact of human nature is that people have a ‘negativity bias’: we react to the bad more strongly and persistently than to the comparable good.”
  • “within a marriage, it takes at least five good acts to repair the damage of one critical or destructive act.”
  • “Studies show that distraction is a powerful mood-altering device, and contrary to what a lot of people believe, persistently focusing on a bad mood aggravates rather than palliates it.”
  • “If I keep my resolutions and do the things that make me happier, I end up feeling happier and acting more virtuously. Do good, feel good; feel good, do good.”

 

12: December

  • “My biggest happiness boosts had come from eliminating the bad feelings generated by my snapping, nagging, gossiping, being surrounded by clutter, eating fake food, drinking, and all the rest. In particular, it made me happier to be in better control of my sharp tongue.”
  • “My happiness project had proved to me, however, that the atmosphere of growth was a huge contributor to happiness. Although my instinct was to shy away from novelty and challenge, in fact, they are a key source of happiness, even for an unadventurous soul like me.”
  • “I think I’m happy – and by pushing myself to be mindful of my happiness, I can truly experience it.”
  • “The single most effective step for me had been to keep my resolutions Chart.”
  • “Having a feeling of autonomy, of being able to choose what happens in your life or how you spend your time, is crucial.”