Making Happiness Happen


I have just discovered a blog that is inching up on sustainability as flourishing. One of Slate's blogs, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin focuses on happiness. While not synonymous with flourishing, the way she talks about her topic follows my line pretty closely, with occasional lapses into reducing happiness to the outcome of following rules. Here are a few excerpts that imply that happiness and authenticity are closely related, and that happiness comes from relationships. I would say that these articles are helping to recognize that being, not having is at the roots of flourishing.

What's Essential to Happiness

“It is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbors, or even our relations.” --Bertrand Russell

That's why the first of my Twelve Commandments is to Be Gretchen.

How To Be Happier: Stay Connected to Your Past

Philosophers and scientists agree: If there is one element that is the key to happiness, it’s having strong relationships with other people. Many of my happiness-project resolutions are aimed at helping me build or strengthen friendships: Show up, Make three friends, Join or start a group. (Here are some other tips for making new friends.) Also, remembering happy times in the past is a great way to boost happiness in the present.

How To Be Happier: Know Yourself. It's Harder Than It Sounds.

In my studies of happiness, I’m always asking myself, “Is this bit of happiness wisdom a universal truth, or is this just true for some people?”

I haven’t identified many universal truths, but one of them is “Know thyself.” You can’t build a happy life if you don’t recognize and acknowledge the things that make you happy. That's why the first of my 12 Commandments is "Be Gretchen." This doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Yet I’m continually astonished how difficult it is to do. One reason that it’s challenging is that we’re so judgmental. We judge others, and we judge ourselves.

There is a fine line between "happiness" produced by following a set of rules and happiness emerging from the satisfaction realized by taking care of the self, others and the world. In an analogy between unsustainability and sustainability, following rules can, perhaps, relieve signs of unhappiness, but can't produce happiness. Happiness is a sign of flourishing and emerges only when someone is taking care of all of these three important domains. But, if one can stop focusing on the absence of "happiness," the possibility of creating the more encompassing quality of flourishing opens up. Gretchen's blog makes good reading for anyone committed to flourishing.