During my study of happiness, I’ve noticed that I often learn more from one person’s highly idiosyncratic experiences than I do from sources that detail universal principles or cite up-to-date studies. There’s something peculiarly compelling and instructive about hearing other people’s happiness stories.
Alex Fayle has a great blog, Someday Syndrome. There, he writes about the importance of not waiting until “someday” to pursue your dreams or make important changes, but to put these ideas into action now.
He just released an e-book, Someday My Ship Will Come In, to help people make the transition from autopilot to conscious choices. It leads readers through a series of short lessons and exercises designed step by step to get people thinking and choosing.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Alex: Each day I choose to be happy. When I wake up in the morning, I think about my day and I smile in anticipation. When I don’t make this conscious choice, my day usually passes with low energy.
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
When I was 18, I decided that it was too scary to follow my dreams, so I made a conscious choice not to pursue writing. I let fear put my dreams on hold for nearly twenty years and I spent that entire time not feeling happy. Until I made the choice to follow my writing dreams, I never realized that I had the power to make myself happy. I always waited for it to come to me, saying “Someday my ship will come in.”
Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
When I see all the work ahead of me and the all the details each task entails, I get paralyzed and depressed. However, when I focus on just the next step facing me, I’m intensely happy. I find the more I look to the future – the more I look for that Someday Ship – the less I act in the moment. Each day therefore I ask myself – what can I do right now to bring my dreams closer to fruition.
Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve find very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”) Or a happiness quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful?
I love this quote: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.“ – Eleanor Roosevelt
It leads me to my motto, which is: Life is a choice.
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?
Happiness is difficult to find when we live on autopilot and live without making conscious choices. The more aware we are our of choices and the more we decide to be happy, the happier we are. We tell ourselves “Someday my ship will come in” and so put off making choices, believing that somehow happiness will come to us without having to act.
I wrote my ebook, Someday My Ship Will Come In, to help get readers thinking and choosing about their choices.
* I had a great time meeting Aidan Donnelley Rowley for coffee the other day — we were set up by Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth fame — and we could’ve talked all afternoon. She was nice enough to mention me and the happiness project in a post If You’re Happy and You Know It… on her excellent new blog, Ivy League Insecurities.
Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.