Happiness Project: Some Further Organizing Thoughts At The Outset

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve begun poking around on a blog called The Happiness Project. You can learn more about the project here; and here are some of what the blog’s author, Gretchen Rubin, considers her best posts.

But the basic idea is that, a few years ago, Ms. Rubin began to think systematically about the question “what do I want from life?” Her answer turned out to be “I want to be happy,” which sounds a little uninspiring, but the project that she commenced found that-in order for her to be happy-she needed to do some things that seem pretty worthwhile to me. In other words, the kind of “happiness” we’re talking about isn’t some abstract feeling of joy that keeps a smile on one’s face constantly, but rather the feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing what you’re best at, making time for the worthwhile things (and recovering pointlessly wasted time), and so forth.

In other words, it’s the kind of personal examination that philosophers and other thinky types have been engaged in for just about all of human history. To pick a random example, there’s Descartes, whose book Discourse on Method seems to represent pretty much the same kind of effort as Rubin’s. That’s not to say that I think people will be studying Rubin’s book three hundred years from now. But I think Rubin’s framework and approach are a useful enough way for me to begin thinking a little more carefully about what I believe and how to live. If I’m plunging into this philosophical pursuit because of something a little trivial and silly, so be it.

At least I’m plunging in.

Tomorrow: some thoughts on Rubin’s first personal commandment, “Be [Yourself].” (It’s better than it sounds.)

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