For the second segment of our Wellness Speaker Series in partnership with The Golden Door, we welcome NY Times best selling author, renowned speaker, and award-winning podcast host Gretchen Rubin to BG, in conversation with Kathy Van Ness. Rubin began her career in Law and has since written several award-winning books, been interviewed by Oprah, and engages with her audience through social media on a daily basis. She will be discussing #TheHappinessProject this Thursday (11/15) on our 6th floor from 5:30PM-7:30PM. Read more in our Q&A below and reserve your seat now at Marketing@GoldenDoor.com.
Bergdorf Goodman: Why do you believe happiness is such an elusive concept? How can one use its elusiveness to their advantage?
Gretchen Rubin: Before I started my happiness project, I never spent any time thinking about happiness, or what I could do to be happier—and I think that’s very common. It takes a lot of reflection, and sometimes painful self-knowledge, to figure out our own interests, values, and nature.
BG: What are your essential rules for achieving personal happiness?
GR: First, identify your aims. Ask yourself:
▪ What makes you feel good? What gives you joy, energy, fun?
▪ What makes you feel bad? What brings you anger, guilt, boredom, dread?
▪ What makes you feel right? What values do you want your life to reflect?
▪ How can you build an atmosphere of growth—where you learn, explore, build, teach, help?
Next, make resolutions to build habits that are concrete and manageable. “Play with my dog each morning” is more effective than “Get more fun out of life.”
BG: Are there small changes that one can implement into their everyday lives to become happier?
GR: Some super-super-basics? Here goes:
▪ Get rid of anything you don’t use or don’t love.
▪ Jump! You’ll get a quick jolt of energy and cheer.
▪ Give warm greetings and farewells whenever people come and go from home.
▪ Make your bed.
▪ Cultivate “shrines”—places in your home that celebrate the people, places, and activities you love.
▪ Go for a walk each day.
▪ If there’s a task you dead, do it for just fifteen minutes. You can stand anything for fifteen minutes.
▪ Always put your keys in the same place.
▪ Accept yourself, and expect more from yourself.
▪ Get enough sleep.
BG: What would you say has been your biggest finding in all your years of research on human behavior and happiness?
GR: After spending so many years reading and writing and talking to people about happiness, I started to notice something: when people talk about a big happiness challenge that they struggle with, or a big boost they’ve managed to make in their happiness, often they talk about their habits. But why were people sometimes able to change their habits—but sometimes, no matter how much they wanted to, they couldn’t?
I became determined to understand the mysteries of habits, so I wrote the book Better Than Before. Whether it’s getting more sleep, exercising regularly, turning off a cellphone, finishing a Ph.D. thesis, or meditating, changing a habit allow us to change our lives.
BG: What is the biggest misconception about finding happiness?
GR: Even people who can’t agree on what it means to be “happy” can agree that most people can be “happier,” according to their own particular definition. I know when I feel happier, and that’s good enough for my purposes. Also, I think that a happiness project is more about the attempt to move in the right direction, to be “happier,” than to arrive at a destination, of “happiness.” People sometimes get distracted with questions like, “How will I know I’m happy?” “How will I stay happy?” It’s more realistic to think about what would make us happier.