• September 2015

September Happiness: Pursue a Passion

In this month’s discussion of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, we invite you to contemplate her goals for September:

Why is it important to pursue a passion?

“Happiness research predicts that making time for a passion and treating it as a real priority instead of an ‘extra’ to be fitted in at a free moment (which many people practically never have) will bring a tremendous happiness boost,” Rubin writes.

But, Rubin asks, if you are like many people, you might feel overwhelmed by the question: What is your passion?

To ease the burden, she suggests simply “doing what you do.” Think back to your 10-year-old self and try doing what you chose to do on a free Saturday afternoon. Examine your behavior rather than your self-conception, and you’ll likely find a clearer guide to your preferences.

Here’s how Rubin recommends that you pursue a passion:

  • Write a novel: Here’s why … “The satisfaction gained from the achievement of a large undertaking is one of the most substantial that life affords,” Rubin insists. Don’t want to pen a book? “Experiment with new recipes, go camping with friends in a state park, plan a 60th birthday party, or watch your favorite team progress to the Super Bowl.” Just do something that truly stretches you.
  • Make time: Give yourself permission to do what you love — at whim, says Rubin who advises we stop doing things we don’t enjoy. “I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started — no longer … and I used to keep every book I bought, and we had messy stacks on every surface of our house.” Her advice: Don’t force yourself to do what you don’t want to do. Accept what you like to do, and know it’s okay.
  • Forget about results: “One thing that makes a passion enjoyable is that you don’t have to worry about results,” Rubin explains. “You can strive for triumph, or you can potter around, tinker, explore, without worrying about efficiency or outcomes … An atmosphere of growth brings great happiness, but at the same time, happiness sometimes also comes when you’re free from the press to see much growth. That’s not surprising; often, the opposite of a great truth is also true.”
  • Master a new technology: If you are like Rubin, books are your passion — so the idea of making your own books will bring you tremendous happiness. When she found the self-publishing site Lulu.com, she made a book out of the journal she’d kept for the first 18 months of her daughter’s life. Then she did a book on her favorite quotations about the nature of biography. And then she did a book on her favorite uncategorized quotations. And then she found the online photo service Shutterfly.com, and printed out a hardback photo album. In addition to mastering new technologies, she kept other resolutions to “Make purchases that further your goals,” “Indulge in a modest splurge,” and “Be a treasure-house of happy memories.” She writes: “Once I got through the painful learning curve, it was fun. The novelty and challenge of mastering the technology — though it was maddening with frustration at times — did give me enormous satisfaction, and it gave me a new way to pursue my passion for books.”

Stay tuned for more of Rubin’s ideas in October when she encourages us to: “Pay Attention.”

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

May is time to: Be Serious About Play

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

June was the perfect opportunity to: Make Time for Friends

  • Remember birthdays
  • Be generous
  • Show up
  • If you gossip, say something nice
  • Make three new friends

July focused on the best thing we can use our money for: Buy Some Happiness

  • Indulge in a modest splurge
  • Buy needful things
  • Spend out
  • Give up something

In August, we take a spiritual turn and: Contemplate the Heavens

  • Read memoirs of catastrophe
  • Keep a gratitude notebook
  • Imitate a spiritual master

This month, we go deeper into ourselves to: Pursue a Passion

  • Write a novel
  • Make time
  • Forget abut results
  • Master a new technology

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