Make a Joke of It. It's Difficult, But Effective.

I know that one of the most effective ways to handle negative emotions is to Lighten up. Although we often assume that feelings inspire actions, in fact, actions also inspire feelings. By pushing myself to act happier, I make myself feel happier. For that reason, Act the way I want to feel is one of my Twelve Personal Commandments. If I’m angry and annoyed, I should try to joke around -- so I resolved to “Make a joke of it” to do a better job of dealing with irritating or upsetting situations. Easier said than done, however. When I’m feeling irritated, the first thing that goes is my sense of humor.

"Owning Up to Our Choices Ultimately Makes Us Happier; If We Don’t Like our Choices, We Can Change Them. "

Happiness interview: Laura Vanderkam. My favorite part of BlogHer, the blogging conference, was getting to meet so many people -- and so many people whose work I admire. I loved Laura Vanderkam's book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, so I was particularly happy to meet her.

7 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination. Without Delay is the Easiest Way.

Going to the gym. Practicing a new skill when you have no skill. Giving bad news. Dealing with tech support. We all have to make ourselves do things that we just don’t want to do. Here are some tricks I’ve learned that help me power through the procrastination.

Video: Stop the Nagging. You'll Be Happier!

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- last month’s theme was Fun. Last week's theme was to Start a collection. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? I also recently re-posted the book video for The Happiness Project, which lists a lot of my favorite resolutions. What resolutions have you tried? I want to do a companion video that lists OTHER people's favorite resolutions, so please add your resolution in the comments below, if you have one that's worked well for you. I hope to do that video soon.

What Samuel Johnson, Thoreau, and Charlie Parker Were All Talking About.

Often I become preoccupied with a particular idea, and take a very great pleasure in seeing that idea appear over and over. I keep extensive notes on many ideas, most of which I never have time to write about, but which have captivated my interest for years. Sometimes they do turn into book – like Profane Waste. What a joy it was to write that book! And to express what I’d been thinking about for so long.

"Bees, by the Instinct of Nature, Do Love Their Hives, and Birds Their Nests."

“Bees, by the instinct of nature, do love their hives, and birds their nests.” --John Bramhall 

Be Nice. It Matters.

Several times a week, I walk past the Sunshine Flowers deli at the corner of 62nd and Lexington. Every time I go by, I smile and get a bit of a boost to keep my happiness resolutions when I see the handwritten admonition on the side of the flower case to "Be nice."

"Be Yourself, But Keep Your Inner Jerk in Check."

I'm a huge, raving fan of Bob Sutton's writing. His blog, Work Matters, is consistently engaging, and I loved his book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. Bob's new book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst, just came out, and it is every bit as good as the last one. Because I work as a writer, I don't really have a boss or act as a boss, but even so, I found it fascinating. Bob has so many interesting things to say about what good bosses do and don't do. There's a lot of information that that is widely applicable, no matter what your job situation.

Eight Pieces of Advice from My Sister, the Sage.

My sister Elizabeth Craft is a sage. Every time I talk to her, I keep a pen and paper handy so I can write down her words of wisdom. I quote her constantly. She's a TV-writer in Los Angeles (now writing for The Vampire Diaries), so that gives a certain flavor to her advice, but many of her observations are more universal than they appear at first glance. Here's an assortment of some of my recent favorite lines:1. When I was fretting because I hadn't heard back about a proposal, she told me, “'Yes' comes right away; 'no' never comes." This observation turns out to be true in a very wide variety of situations.

Video: What Has Been YOUR Most Helpful Resolution?

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- last month’s focus was Fun, and last week's resolution was Start a collection. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? This week, I'm doing something a little different.

To Make a Friend, Ask Someone For a Favor.

Here’s a resolution that might sound counter-intuitive: Ask for a favor. Ask for help, for advice, for suggestions. Asking for a favor is a sign of intimacy and trust. It shows that you feel comfortable being indebted to someone. I remember a friend at work telling me, “I never liked that guy until he told me he needed to borrow $50 from me. Then I realized he must consider me a friend, and presto! I started liking him.” 

"The Less Money Matters to You, the More Careful You Need to Be With It."

I met personal finance expert Zac Bissonnette when we were on a panel together, and I was impressed by his command of the research and statistics related to working, debt, higher education costs, and money -- particularly because he was still in college! He's now entering his senior year at the University of Massachusetts. His new book, Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents, just came out.

Trying to Make a Tough Decision? Try Asking the Five Fateful Questions.

When I’m reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable, I ask myself these five questions which, in melodramatic form, I call the "Five Fateful Questions." They help me think clearly about a situation. What am I waiting for? What would I do if I weren’t scared? What steps would make things easier? What would I do if I had all the time and money in the world? What is the worst, and the best, that could happen?

Video: Start a Collection. It's Fun!

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- this month's focus is Fun, and last week’s resolution was to Abandon a fun project. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? This week’s resolution is to Start a collection.

Does "Relationship Talk" Boost Happiness? For Women, Yes; For Men, No.

I've noticed that many people are fascinated by the happiness differences between men and women. For the most part, in my research and reflection, I don’t focus overmuch on this, because I think it obscures the differences among individuals. In particular, when I focus on the way “men” generally behave, I start to lump my husband along with half of humanity. I find myself feeling angry or annoyed with him for things he hasn’t even done! However, I did read some very interesting observations along these lines in 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, by research professor Terri Orbuch, who is the project director of the Early Years of Marriage research project (although the project has been going on for more than twenty years, so it's not just early years any more).

“Nature, Which Makes Nothing Durable, Always Repeats Itself So That Nothing Which It Makes May Be Lost.”

“Nature, which makes nothing durable, always repeats itself so that nothing which it makes may be lost.” --Oscar Wilde 

"Feel What You Feel, Even If It's Not What You'd Like To Be Feeling."

Happiness interview: Stephanie Dolgoff. I e-knew Stephanie Dolgoff a bit from the internet, because I'd read her blog, Formerly Hot -- "a humorous blog about body image, beauty, aging, and pop culture." We crossed paths at a recent blogger conference, but never met. Last week, finally, I got the chance to meet Stephanie face-to-face just as her new book, My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young, is hitting the shelves. (Here she is on the Today show.)

"The Shorter My Possession of Life, the Deeper and Fuller I Must Make It."

“It needs good management to enjoy life. I enjoy it twice as much as others, for the measure of enjoyment depends on the greater or less attention that we give to it…The shorter my possession of life, the deeper and fuller I must make it.” --Montaigne 

P.S. How To Get Your "Happiness Project" Fix While I'm on Vacation.

Warning: Blatant self-promotion! It just occurred to me to say -- I'm taking a week's vacation, but if you want to read about happiness in the meantime, please consider my book, The Happiness Project (on the New York Times bestseller list for months, including hitting #1). “Um, why should I buy your book,” some people have asked, “when I can read the blog for free?” Other people have asked, more delicately, “I read your blog regularly, so isn’t reading the book just more of the same?” Here are some reasons to read the book:

"I'm Much Happier If I Can Achive a Flow State for Part of Each Day. But This Requires Shutting Off My Email."

Happiness interview: Paul Bloom. I recently read Paul Bloom's new book, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. It's an absolutely fascinating look at pleasure and why we feel it. The relationship between pleasure and happiness -- what it ought to be, and what it actually is -- is one of the most complex issues within the larger subject of happiness. So I was very eager to hear what Paul had to say.

5 Tips for Happiness Inspired by a Family Vacation.

My college roommate was a dedicated journal-keeper. She once told me, "Every once in a while I have a big insight into myself, or have a major epiphany about life. The thing is, when I look back in my journals, I realize that I had exactly the same idea a few years ago -- but I forgot it." I feel the same way; it's hard to remember the lessons I've learned. For that reason, because I'm going away on my family vacation next week, I went back to see what I wrote last August's vacation.

Video: Abandon a Fun Project.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- this month's theme is Fun. Last week’s focus was Make time for fun--even if you have to schedule it like a dentist's appointment. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? This week’s resolution is to Abandon a fun project. I realized that a source of clutter in my apartment, and a significant drain on my energy, was the uncomfortable presence of unfinished “fun” projects. Now I try to call an end to a project when I know, deep down, I won't finish it. It's such a relief! Plus it eliminates so much clutter.

Throw Away Other People's Trash, or, How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

The subject of self-esteem is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy over the last few decades, but one thing seems clear: you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable. In other words, the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something worthy of your own respect: keep a difficult resolution, meet a challenge, solve a problem, learn a skill, cross something unpleasant off your to-do list. And one of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to help someone else -- do good, feel good.

"Decide What You Want or Need to Do, and Then Do It With All Your Power."

Happiness interview with Chris Yeh.I was e-introduced to Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Chris Yeh by my online-then-real-life friend Jackie Danicki. 

Video: Make Time for Fun. Even If You Have To Schedule It Like a Dentist's Appointment.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- This month's theme is Fun. Fun may sound frivolous, but people who regularly have fun are much more likely to describe themselves as happy. Last week’s resolution was to Find some fun. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? This week’s resolution is to Make time for fun.

Read about My Children's Literature Reading Groups in the New York Times!

I've written about my children's literature reading groups before -- yes, groups. Along with friends, I've started THREE of these groups, and each one is a huge engine of happiness for me.  My friend Pamela Paul (who is herself a member of Kidlit) wrote about the Kidlit groups in the New York Times Book Review today: The Kids' Book Are All Right. Fun!

Identify the Problem.

My Eighth Personal Commandment is to Identify the problem. That is, when you’re annoyed, angered, or frustrated, ask yourself, “What exactly is the problem here?” This rule seems so obvious that it’s hard to explain why it’s so tremendously helpful, but it has been the one of my most major happiness-project breakthroughs.

8 Tips for Boosting Your Energy RIGHT NOW.

It’s hard to feel happy when you’re dragging around. Simple tasks seem overwhelming, people seem annoying, and nothing seems fun. Lots of good results flow from having plenty of energy. Life just seems more manageable. Also, studies show, you’re more likely to feel good about yourself, and not only that, being considered an “energizer” makes you more likely to win a positive work evaluation.

Video: Find Some Fun. You'll Be Happier.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- last month's theme was Eternity, and last week's resolution was to Put your values into action in your everyday life. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness? This month's theme is Fun, and this week’s resolution is to Find some fun (which can be surprisingly challenging). This resolution reminds me of one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood: Just because something is fun for someone else doesn't mean it's fun for me -- and vice versa.

Pages