Reading the paper, believe it or not, makes me happy. Not necessarily the news that I get from reading it, but the simple fact that I have the time to sit down and scan through the articles, the columns, the ads, the comics and the puzzles. On really good days, I have time to do the puzzles, and on excellent days I find something good or funny or useful that I can incorporate into my life to make it richer in some way.
Yesterday was an excellent newspaper day. My find was in a column by Suzanne Perez Tobias, "Happiness: Plan it, do it, remember it." She talked about happiness in her own (and her children's) life, and gave a link to an excellent blog titled "The Happiness Project".
The Happiness Project is the work of Gretchen Rubin, a lawyer turned writer who is taking a year (possibly more?) to personally test every theory she can on what makes people happy. She is blogging about the experience and, concurrently, writing a book to be published in late 2009.
A quote from her blog that I think is particularly interesting, "My research has shown me that a key to happiness is squeezing out as much happiness as possible from a happy event. Unhappy people don’t have fewer happy experiences as happy people, they just think about them less. [Italics added.]"
She goes on to outline 4 stages to increase the happiness you experience from life:
1. Anticipate upcoming events with pleasure,
2. Savor happy moments as you experience them,
3. Express happiness to yourself and others, and
4. Reflect on happy memories of the event or moment.
I really like this idea! It's so simple, but potentially life-changing. Personally, I'm terrible at the first step - when I have an upcoming potentially happy event, I tend to focus on problems that may arise (like focusing on the hassle of getting ready to leave on vacation, rather than on the vacation itself; or focusing on my fears over being inappropriately dressed, rather than on a fun event that we've scheduled). I'm a little better on the other 3 steps, but could certainly do more with each one.
Check into her blog, if you get a chance. It's now happily ensconced on my list of favorites, and I know I'll be checking it with great regularily!