The Happiness Project

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

Knowing You Are Happy Without Feeling It?

Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.

Reading about J. K. Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy put me in the mood to re-read—for probably the eighth time—Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Oh, how I love to re-read.

I enjoyed re-reading it tremendously, and I was particularly struck by a passage that I’d never noticed before.

When, after much pride and prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth agree to be married, Austen writes of the two characters:

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“Darcy was not of a disposition in which happiness overflows in mirth; and Elizabeth, agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy, than felt herself to be so.”

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is: Happiness doesn’t always make me feel happy. Sometimes, I know that I’m happy, but I wouldn’t exactly say that I feel happy.

For instance, many people say that the happiest moments of their lives were when their children were born. I exerienced intense emotion when my daughters were born, but I wouldn’t describe it exactly as happy. And yet, I was happy.

Have you had this experience?

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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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