• May 2015

May Happiness: Be Serious About Play

How is your Happiness Project going?

We continue the discussion of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, and this month we invite you to embark on her goal for May: Be Serious About Play.


Rubin explains: “While writer Jean Stafford scoffed, ‘Happy people don’t need to have fun,’ in fact, studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.”

One way to do that is to play! Researchers define that as an activity that’s very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn’t create social harm, and doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition.

“And, regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life,” Rubin insists, adding, “people who have fun are 20 times as likely to feel happy.”

Here’s how:

  • Find more fun. How? Rubin points out that the first step is to tap into one of the Secrets of Adulthood: Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for you, and vice versa. So what do you love to do? The first step is to answer that very personal question.
  • Take time to be silly. Does this sound familiar? “Preoccupied with my work, distracted by my running mental to-do lists, I’d become more humorless than I used to be,” Rubin shares. “Many of my resolutions were aimed at gaining control of my temper, but that wasn’t enough. A happy atmosphere isn’t created merely by the absence of nagging and yelling but also by jokes, games, and tomfoolery.” So go for the silly, she insists. “Look for opportunities to see the ridiculous side of things, enter into the spirit of play, and goof around.”
  • Go off the path. One of the things Rubin says she loves about her mother is her adventurousness — her eagerness to go new places, have new experiences, and develop a mini-expertise by new situations. How can more of us be like that? Short of booking a trip, Rubin has a few ideas to get you started: skim newspaper sections you would usually skip, buy three new magazines you wouldn’t usually purchase, check out books that aren’t on your must-read list. Get new ideas percolating — anything that will get you off your usual path.
  • Start a collection. There are two kinds of collectors, Rubin believes: one who seeks to have a complete set of something (stamps, coins, Barbie dolls); the other who is driven by sheer desire. Determine which one you are, or if you want to be a combo of the two, and go for it. Rubin, for instance, created a “Happiness Box,” in which she collected trinkets meant to trigger happy thoughts and memories — a Snoopy memo pad, miniature tea cup, a figurine of Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz.” In the end, she says, “I had lots of little objects lying around in odd corners … that were clutter when scattered around, but extremely satisfying as a collection.”

Stay tuned for more tips in June on friendship: Make Time for Friends!

And don’t forget:

January’s resolution focuses on Vitality: Boost Your Energy

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Toss, restore, and organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
  • Act more energetic

February’s advice regarding Marriage: Remember Love

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Hug
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

March’s goals about Work: Aim Higher

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

April’s insights are on Parenting: Lighten Up

  • Sing in the morning
  • Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories
  • Take time for projects

And, to recap, May is time to: Be Serious About Play

  • Find more fun
  • Take time to be silly
  • Go off the path
  • Start a collection

Learn more about Gretchen Rubin and her happiness project in the December 2014 issue of Be Inkandescent magazine.