This video has stayed in my head because it features a very do-able piece of advice from Gretchen Rubin, the appealing, slightly nerdy author of “The Happiness Project.” De-cluttering one’s living space is a key tenet in her bestselling book, which details her year-long experiment attempting to increase her level of happiness. Readers benefit from the exhaustive-sounding research she did—the book is loaded with memorable insights and concrete advice on how to have a richer, more satisfying life.
From “The Happiness Project”:
“One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-splattered window of a city bus, I saw that the years of my life were slipping by. ‘What do I want from life anyway?’ I asked myself. … But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier. … I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t having a midlife crisis, but I was suffering from midlife malaise—a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief.
‘Is this really it?'”
It just occurred to me that a recipe for unhappiness is to want things over which you have no control.
When my husband and I moved to L.A., it was to pursue screenwriting careers. To be considered for movie projects in particular, you basically have to sell a screenplay first. I was determined, and I made a conscious decision to stop pursuing other interests, at least temporarily, so that I could spend as much time writing as possible. Years passed, in which I kept telling myself, “I’ll start painting again once I’ve sold a script.” “It would be nice to get a dog, once I’ve sold a script.” Finally, at some point—I’m sure a very low point, thankfully I’ve blocked out the details—I realized I was postponing happiness, and that everything hinged on this goal that wasn’t necessarily in my control. So, I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to do, that I had been putting off, and to start doing as many of the things as possible. One of the items on my list was another longtime goal, that of making a movie. If you know what goes into making a movie, you’ll understand why I thought it would be easier to sell a script than to make a movie and why I had put it off. Both things are hard, but here’s the critical difference: selling a script is not in one’s control and making a movie is.
I’m curious whether there has ever been a time in your life when you thought consciously about whether or not you were happy and took specific steps to try to increase your happiness?