The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

In Which I Go to a Dance Parade and Reflect on Happiness.

Dancing in the streets!

Danceparade

This Saturday, my husband suggested that we all go downtown to watch the annual dance parade. I’d never heard of it, but for the past three years, New York City has had a dance parade, where thousand of dancers, from all sorts of dance organizations, dance their way down a parade route. Some of the dancers were from “real” dance schools or groups, others were from dance/exercise classes, and many groups, we suspected, had been organized for the sole purpose of marching on Saturday.

This outing turned out to be tremendously fun. We found a place where we could perch on a high railing, so we had a good view and a place to sit. The weather was lovely. And the dancers were more fun to watch than practically any parade I’ve ever seen.

The parade outing prompted me to make several happiness-project observations:

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  • When someone – here, my husband – makes a suggestion, it’s better to respond with “Great idea!” “Sounds terrific!” than “Sure,” “Okay,” “How long do you think we’ll stay?” Ahem.
  • Along the same lines: even if, deep down, every morning of my life I wish I could stay home reading in bed all day (on this particular day, Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs), I’m always glad when I do something more adventurous.
  • Enthusiasm, a sense of fun, and high energy are more engaging than skill. It was more fun to watch a group in mismatched, homemade costumes bouncing around in this parade than to watch the usual uniformed group marching in perfect unison. As William Blake observed, “Exuberance is beauty.”
  • I’m in awe of other people’s unselfconsciousness. I don’t consider myself overly selfconscious – but to make my way down Broadway, dancing around with twenty people from my weekly dance/exercise class…well, that would be hard for me. As I watched, I remind myself of the important lesson for any creative pursuit, “No one cares about my mistakes. What’s important is to do what I want to do.”
  • When my children squabble, it’s more effective, and certainly less annoying, to change the subject than to try to sort things out.
  • I love New York City! What a spectacle, what a crazy mix of people. I will never tire of it.

* A big happiness challenge for me, and lots of other people, is coping with email. It's an essential tool, but also a crazy treadmill burden. I was interested to read this post, Drastic inboxes call for drastic measures, over at Mom-101.

* If you'd like a free, personalized, signed bookplate to put in your copy of The Happiness Project, just email me the name (your name or your gift recipient's name) and an address, and I'll mail it right off. Feel free to ask for as many as you like. My email is grubin [at] gretchenrubin [.com].

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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