If you’re looking for ways to make 2016 a happier, healthier, more productive year, may I self-promotingly suggest my book, The Happiness Project?
The first day of the new year always feels so fresh and full of promise to me — but at the same time, it’s very discouraging to look back over the year that’s just ended, and realize that I’d never accomplished an important, happiness-boosting change that I’d hoped to make.
This feeling is one of the major reasons that I undertook my happiness project.
I remember so clearly the moment when I had the idea to do it. I was on the 79th Street cross-town bus, and I looked out the window and thought, “What do I want from life anyway? I want to be happy.” I realized, though, that I didn’t spend any time thinking about whether I was happy, or how I could be happier. “I should have a happiness project!” I decided.
I ran to the library the next day to get a big stack of books about happiness — and I had no notion of how much that single moment’s thought was going to shape my life, and bring me so much happiness.
I divided the year into twelve categories — each month, I worked on a different area of my life where I wanted to make myself happier. Areas such as energy, marriage, play, mindfulness, money, parenthood, work, and friendship. I identified a handful of specific, manageable resolutions to try, to see if I could boost my happiness. And I often found that I really could.
What I found out about myself, and I think this is true for a lot of people, is that there was a lot of low-hanging fruit — steps that didn’t take much time, energy, or money yet could significantly boost my happiness. And why not be as happy as we can be?
And I can’t resist adding: The Happiness Project was on the New York Times‘s bestseller list for more than two years, including at #1, has sold more than two million copies, and been publishing in more than thirty languages. Yowza! As a writer, it’s thrilling to be able to connect with so many people. Thanks, readers, for all your enthusiasm and support.
You may think, “Why should I read about your happiness project? Gretchen and I may be nothing alike.” Very true. But it seems to be the case that reading about someone else’s very specific experience is often the best way to get ourselves thinking about what would work for us. Somehow, we identify and learn more from a personal story than from the most high-minded philosophical treatise or major study covering large populations.
For ideas about how to start your own happiness project, look here. It’s never too late to start — it’s always the right time to begin.