If you asked for my most profound takeaways from my 20s, I’d open with everything I’ve learned about happiness. I went into this decade assuming if I did everything right — got the right grades, the right job, the right man — then I’d be happy. And now I’m leaving this decade with a new perspective, knowing happiness isn’t found in the big things; it’s found in the ordinary little ways to be happier. Right here, right now.
A big shift happened after I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, one of the rare self-help books that actually helped me. Rubin studied the age-old philosophies on happiness and test drove her findings, creating her own personalized happiness project that sparked similar missions all over the world. Because that’s the thing about happiness: You can’t bottle it up for the masses, creating a one-size-fits-all approach. And yet some of Rubin’s wisdom — to act the way you want to feel, for instance — have contributed to my own happiness project of sorts. Her book was one of my contributing factors in creating a sustainable approach to cultivate happiness, even when absolutely nothing is going the way I want. Even when it would be super easy to complain and wallow and cling onto the misery.
Most people assume that happiness comes from the emotional highs in life — getting married, starting a family, getting a big promotion — when science has a very different view on true, lasting happiness. Research shows that happiness is within all of our reaches, no matter the circumstances, with very small and deliberate changes.