Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing Gretchen Rubin, the author of the “Happiness Project” speak about her new book, “Happier at Home”. Never mind that she came to DC in the middle of the Polar Vortex – I was going to see her come blizzard or ice storm!
Three things struck me about Gretchen:
a) she’s so elegant
b) she’s very down to earth and funny
c) her presentation skills are excellent.
I heard a very famous author speak a few months ago, and left that talking feeling isolated from rather than connected to the author and her message; it was a disappointing experience. In contrast, Gretchen candidly answered many questions, took pictures with everyone who wanted one, and seemed to be having fun; a much more engaging way to spend an evening!
Although I haven’t finished the book yet, she did summarize some of it in her talk. Here are a few key points she mentioned to enhance your happiness in her second happiness project:
*Get enough sleep – the number one thing Americans do not get enough of, 7-8 hours worth.
*Exercise – she talked about how she loves walking
*Cultivate Good Smells- I found this one to be interesting. She brought three little vials of smells with her, that were passed around the audience. One was called “The Beach,” and another was “A Tomato Garden.” She said there are few pleasures as intense and soothing as a lovely scent and it helps to make home feel “homier.”
* Mindfully arrange your things. Create little “shrines” for them so that they look nicely put together. It boosts your happiness and satisfaction.
*Get control of your stuff. One of her friends told her, “I cleaned out my fridge and I feel like I can switch careers now.”
*Make your bed. Making your bed in the morning, while tedious, can directly improve your productivity and happiness throughout the day.
*Get rid of your clutter. Do you love it, do you need it, or is it just occupying space?
Gretchen then talked about the two keys to happiness (in her own mind):
a) Self knowledge
b) Strong bonds (aka intimate, long lasting relationships.)
Give support. Confide in people. Trust them even if they’re flawed. Deepen or broaden existing relationships. Talk to that colleague. Throw that Super Bowl Party! She also stated that technology has it’s plusses and minuses for affecting our happiness, summing it up this way: “Techonlogy is a good servant but a bad master.”
Gretchen stated that most people fall in variations of two categories. She referred to this example by using two characters from the famous children’s series, “Winnie the Pooh” – Tigger and Eeyore. If you’re not familiar with them: Tigger is the excited tiger who bounces around, spazzing out with excessive energy and enthusiasm. Eeyore is the brooding, rather morose donkey whose tail always falls off and who always speaks in a monotone. Gretchen stated, “Tensions occur when a Tigger and an Eeyore try to convert each other. The more they try to convince each other to adopt a different perspective, the more the other resists. Tiggers fear being dragged down by the Eeyores, and Eeyores feel resentful and irritated by the Tiggers’ insistent cheer – Tiggers drive them crazy!” She talked about the importance of not trying to convert each other, but finding happiness in ways that were authentic and real to each type of person, basing it on research and individual preferences.
The one thing that she kept impressing upon the audience during her talk was: “Don’t copy me – Find what works for you.” After ending the talk with her favorite quote “The days are long but the years are short ,” we got in line to meet her and have her sign our books. She could not have been more gracious when it was my turn and she was very interested when I told her about CHAI and my “Happiness Project” blogs. She told me to email her a link to the blogs and that she was happy to know her work was making such an impact. So am I, Gretchen, so am I!!!