What Started Me Thinking

  • "The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up." Mark Twain
  • “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
  • “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” Simone Weil
  • “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” Colette
  • “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” G. K. Chesterton
  • “A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart.” Joseph Addison
  • “Best is good. Better is best.” Lisa Grunwald
  • “Order is Heaven’s first law.” Alexander Pope

Happiness Theories I Reject

  • Flaubert: "To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless."
  • Vauvenargues: “There are men who are happy without knowing it.”
  • Eric Hoffer: “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”
  • Sartre: "Hell is other people."
  • Willa Cather: “One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them…”
  • Alexander Smith: “We are never happy; we can only remember that we were so once.”
  • John Stuart Mill: “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.”

I've been getting more sleep.

My new, not-exactly-original resolution is to go to sleep when I feel sleepy, instead of staying up to read, work, watch The Sopranos on TiVO, pay bills, whatever.

Before I learned the counter-intuitive—but true—rule that well-rested children sleep better than sleep-deprived children, I’d made critical errors like thinking that if my children stayed up late, they’d sleep later in the morning. Nope. They wake up earlier. Sleep begets sleep.

And this rule is true for adults, too. Now that I get more sleep, I sleep better but I also need more sleep. That’s healthy, sure, but I miss having that time awake.

But maybe my new sleepiness isn’t linked to getting more sleep, but just the level of sleep-deprivation we all suffer. I’ve heard that “sleep is the new sex,” and I was at a dinner party where everyone literally went around the table detailing the best nap they’d ever had.


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Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin is the best-selling writer whose book, The Happiness Project, is the account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. Here, she shares her insights to help you create your own happiness project.

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