“Happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have, it depends solely on what you think.” Dale Carnegie
“Happy, happy, happy.” That, as many of you fellow Duck Dynasty fans know, is Phil’s mantra. He is one happy man, but what really and truly makes one happy?
I was lucky enough to attend a “meet and greet” and book signing with “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home” bestselling author Gretchen Rubin this week and I’m happy to share some of her ideas and findings with you.
Ms. Rubin had a lot of words of wisdom for those in attendance, but three that stood out to me were:
- The key to happiness is relationships.
- The biggest mistake people make in pursuing happiness is following career goals in hopes of being happy once they accomplish them.
- Safe does not always mean happy.
Before elaborating on these, I just want to say how surprised I was at how funny, how real, how entertaining, and how tiny Ms. Rubin is. She was so down-to-earth and fun to listen to. I guess those are the results of being a happy person!
So, without any further adieu, number one: the key to happiness is relationships. But, not just any relationships, but true, strong bonds with others. It is truly a case of quality over quantity. It seems that, regardless of how much money you have, how thin and healthy you might be, where you live, or what your job is, unless you have friends that you trust, that you respect, and that make you laugh, your chances of being truly happy diminish greatly.
I love Ms. Rubin, love her books and her blogs, and quote her often, but I’m also one of those who is never bored being home and doesn’t have the need for constant interaction and activity. So, it was a little jolting when she recommended that, when debating what activity to do, always choose the one that involves other people. Yikes. Sometimes I don’t want to! Still, I do cherish friends and close relationships. I thrive on them. They are gold to me.
Not everyone finds it easy to make friends though, and even more importantly, keep them. As I always told my daughter when she was little, no one has to be your friend. You need to make people want to be your friend. Ms. Rubin says she knows this all too well and expressed her belief that the best place to find a friend is friends of your friends. What? Yep, friends of your current friends or those you meet through your current friends are the best possibilities for, well, friendship.
Number 2: checking off your career goals spreadsheet is no guarantee for happiness. Ms. Rubin told us that so many folks get bogged down in being successful in their careers that they never actually enjoy their work and aren’t happy. She also said pursuing your dreams and not those that others think are the “right ones” will result in more joy and happiness in your life than vice versa. In other words, do what you love and love what you do. Just because a teacher or parent says Finance is a good thing to major in and then get a good job in, if you hate numbers and lack of creativity, don’t major in it! No matter how much money you make, you won’t be happy. As George Burns so famously said, “I would rather be a failure doing something I love than a success doing something I hate.”
Which leads us to number 3: safe does not always mean happy. Yes, Accounting is probably a “safe” major and a “safe” bet for employment, but it may not blow your skirt up. Living in suburban Austin is indeed safe, but downsizing and living on a beach might make me just as happy, if not more so. If, I can take all the special people in my life with me who I share wonderful relationships with, right?!
So what makes you happy? Please share your thoughts and tips on what keeps you going and what keeps you smiling.