Gretchen Rubin often states that the route to happiness is different for everyone. What makes one person happy, fulfilled, and satisfied doesn’t always hold true for someone else. For this reason, every couple of weeks she conducts a happiness interview with various people shes encountered who have different methods and tools to reaching and maintaining happiness in their lives. These interviews are my favorite part of Gretchen’s blog because they spark creativity and inspiration in my own life. When I was reading her latest happiness interview this morning I started wondering how I would answer the same questions, which gave me some blog inspiration (yay!). So, here it is. The answers to my very own happiness interview.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier? Lindsay: The happiest part of my daily routine are my morning life chats with co-worker, best friend, and life-chat buddy, Liz Gebhart. Finding that 30 minute or one-hour window in the day where we get to be completely ourselves is something that makes me genuinely happy. I am a firm believer that you have many soul mates in your life and Liz is one of mine. We share a common interest in building our life around doing what we love, being ourselves, finding happiness in both work and play, and exploring our purpose in life.
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old? Well, that was only six years ago so I’m not sure I can provide all that much insight but I can certainly say that I’ve learned happiness is based on your own disposition; it’s not based on how other people make you feel. Finding happiness is about loving and being true to yourself first. I don’t think you can make others happy until you first make yourself happy.
Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness? When I’m stressed out or pissed off or my feelings get hurt, I tend to chew on small aspects of the situation and focus on the negative too much – almost to the point where it seems all-consuming, which certainly gets in the way of my happiness. Although I can easily recognize this behavior and shift my perspective fairly quickly, it’s easy for me to get caught up in all the negative-ness if I find myself surrounded by someone who is negative as well. When that happens, I have to put forth more effort to shift my perspective and focus on the positive aspects.
Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself that “Outer order contributes to inner calm.”) “If you’re unhappy, change your disposition and shift your perspective.” This isn’t an actual quote, it’s just something that I find to be helpful in remembering that your happiness is dependent solely on you. If you’re not happy, be proactive and change it.
If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost? Or, like a “comfort food,” do you have a comfort activity? (mine is reading children’s books). I am a coffee fanatic. The best present I have received and which gives me a small boost of happiness every time (every day) I use it, is my Keurig. The smell of coffee alone makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness? Absolutely. I recently had dinner with a friend which inspired a conversation around the need to make proactive changes in her life. I think people easily forget that they have the power to change their lives if they aren’t happy with the way it is. Moreover, if you have a bad day or a bad week, it doesn’t mean your entire life is bad. I can think of several people who are very proactive and it adds a lot to their happiness. On the flip side, I can also think of several people who are not proactive and from an outside perspective, it certainly detracts a lot from their happiness.
Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy – if so, why? If you were unhappy, how did you become happier? When I was living in Guatemala, I felt exceptionally happy and fulfilled in life. I had a clear direction and purpose. I felt fulfilled. And to top it all off, I had companionship. New love and a satisfied, fulfilled life makes for one happy lady.
Is there some aspect of your home that makes you particularly happy? Having a minimalist vision for my house and following the vision through. I felt so accomplished after re-doing my guest room, cleaning out my closets, and going through old mementos. It’s hard work to go through years of belongings and differentiate between what is trash and what is treasure. Ultimately, though, I’ve created a feel uniquely my own when you walk in the front door and when people comment on how comfy and homey my house is – it just makes me feel really good.
Have you ever been surprised that something you expected would make you very happy, didn’t – or vice versa. Retail therapy. Enough said.