If you ask most people what they want in life, chances are they will eventually say that they want to be happy. So most of us want happiness, but do we actually do anything to actively seek it?
Gretchen Rubin did. She devoted a year of her life to her happiness project it in fact, and wrote a book about it.
I think it is something we should all consider. Not writing a book about it, necessarily... but what we actually do for ourselves daily in the pursuit of happiness.
Do you know what makes you happy? What do you do for fun?
I suspect far too many of us may have lost sight of the true answers to these questions. Those answers are easily subsumed by expectations we hold of what sensible, appropriate grown ups should do with their leisure time. That of course assumes that we haven't given up on the idea of leisure entirely, in the pursuit of 'success', whatever that may mean to us.
Reading Rubin's account of working through these questions is certainly thought provoking. I have to admit, my initial thoughts included the worrying doubt that devoting a year of a life to one's personal happiness might just be a touch self-indulgent. How telling... I now conclude that it is not at all a selfish luxury. Rather more a responsibility. Each of us brings our energy to the world. Each of us is responsible for choosing what sort of energy that will be.
"Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." Aristotle
The Happiness Project is not a prescriptive instructional manual. It is more like a diary of Rubin's year long project. It concludes with suggestions on how to start one's own happiness project, recognising that no two projects will be alike. It is up to each one of us to work out what it would take to increase our happiness. If you are wondering where to begin, then I highly recommend this book. Not only for the delightful, personal writing, but for the extensive resource lists at the end of the book.
To my mind, our whole lives are our happiness projects. I wholeheartedly support the idea of setting clear goals of things to add to our lives, or things to change in order to increase our everyday happiness. Analysis, setting objectives and determining measurable action steps to achieve these things - of course I like all that. But I don't see it as the work of a finite period of time. No indeed, that is the work of a lifetime.