For the International Day of Happiness

The most important thing I've learned about happiness

Posted Mar 20, 2017

jessica wilson, flickr
Source: jessica wilson, flickr

Today is the International Day of Happiness (there’s a day for just about everything, isn’t there?).

That got me thinking. I’ve been researching, thinking, and writing about it for a decade now: what’s the most important thing I’ve learned about happiness? How can we help ourselves to become happier?

And I realize that my crucial insight is that the answer is…It depends.

It depends on the kind of person we are — our interests, our values, our temperament, our circumstances.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s a “best” way, or the “right” way — but it just depends.

For instance, maybe you know you’d be happier if you exercised regularly, or if you spent less time on your phone, or if you finished your Ph.D. thesis, or if you yelled at your kids less, or if your house were less cluttered.

How do you do that? It depends…

And so many other factors.

Very often, though, we’re told we “should” be able to do something, or that something “should” make us happy.

We should be made happier by …

  • travel
  • wine
  • shopping
  • spontaneity
  • music

Those aren’t major sources of happiness for me.  I see their value, they do bring me some happiness, I understand that they’re very important to other people, but for me, meh.

If pressed for a universal answer about how to become happier, I do think there are some aspects of happiness that are true for just about everyone.

We need self-knowledge.

This is what I’m talking about above. When we know ourselves, we can shape our lives to suit what’s true for us.

We need relationships.

To be happy, we have to have enduring, intimate bonds with others; we have to feel like we belong; we have to be able to give and get support.

If someone asked you, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about happiness?” what would you answer?

Also ...

Gretchen Rubin
Source: Gretchen Rubin

I’ve been astonished by the popularity of the 21 Day Projects. Since they were launched, I’ve noticed that many people buy more than one Project, and many have asked for a version they could read on a digital device or print out. So—here it is! In this Omnibus, you can buy all five Projects at once, in a PDF that you can read on your computer or download onto a device, or even print out on ye olde paper. You also save: $11.99 instead of $19.96. Learn more here.

Tags: habits happiness International Day of Happiness

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About the Author

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project and Better than Before, New York Times bestseller that explains how to form good habits and break bad ones. 

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