In Which I Have a Question for People in Happiness-Project Groups.

Several months ago, I began offering the starter-kit for people who wanted to start a group for people pursuing happiness projects together. Since then, more than 3,700 people have requested a starter kit! (Request yours here.)

I’m really curious to hear about how these groups are doing. If you’re in a happiness-project group, I’d so appreciate it if you’d take a minute to post a comment.

I’d love to know the answer to questions like: how many people are in your group, and did you know each other before the group started, or not?

In particular, I’d love to hear any striking examples of personal change that people were able to foster because of the group. What specifically did you try, what worked, and why? Was there something that being in the happiness-project group allowed you to do, that you weren’t able to do before, on your own?

More broadly, why did you want to join a group for people working on happiness? How does being in a group change the experience? The dynamic of doing a happiness project by yourself is very different from doing it in a group, of course.

I know this is a super-hectic time of year, so I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

If you’re a group leader, you may want to join the discussion on Facebook for group leaders, and remember to add your group name to the city directory.

Thanks!

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Linda Baines

    Gretchen
    How about setting up a network of happiness project groups with forums for discussions on the website? It could also encourage those of us who may be considering putting a toe in the water to start to participate on a virtual basis….

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s an interesting idea, and I thought about doing something along those
      lines…but from what I hear, discussion forums on blogs often aren’t very
      active or effective. But it’s probably worth trying, to see how people
      respond.

      Have you participated in a forum like that, one that worked well? Maybe I’ve
      just heard about a few that didn’t catch on.

      • robbyslaughter

        Gretchen, it would take exactly 4 minutes to set up a complete social network, including discussion forums, blogs, user accounts, etc, on a site like Ning (http://ning.com).

        • gretchenrubin

          It’s not hard to set it up — but do people want to use it? From what I
          hear, often they end up not being very active — but there are some
          exceptions.

          • robbyslaughter

            All online communities are subject to the 90-9-1 rule. (http://www.90-9-1.com/
            ) That’s no reason not to try.

            (P.S. Can you tell I’m reading ‘March?’)

          • Randy

            (Thank you for posting that site. 90-9-1.)

  • http://wtmu.blogspot.com/ Patti

    My comment is not relevant to your post, however I thought you may be interested in this quote:

    To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act because true happiness depends upon a revolution in ourselves. It is a radical change of view that liberates us so that we know who we are most deeply and can acknowledge our enormous ability to love. We are liberated by the truth that every single one of us can take the time and pay attention. That is our birthright. Our own happiness can change history, and it does.”

    -Sharon Salzberg, “Lovingkindness”

    • RTP

      This is so true!

  • RTP

    I’m having trouble getting through using the “click here”/subscription list thingamajig — it never puts anything through, and I’ve filled it out four times now!

    • gretchenrubin

      There’s a delay — you will get something tomorrow. Maybe four times!

      • RTP

        Even if I did this last week? Sigh…I think my computer has issues…

  • RTP

    Here is something that’s worked for us; it works just as well re: happiness and the daily grind as it does during times of extreme stress, grief, or addiction:

    When you find yourself feeling overcome by unhappiness, stress, grief, despair, craving — whatever it is that currently besets you — DO NOT go out of your way to DO something else to “take your mind off it” and DO NOT bribe yourself with “goodies” to try and “fix” it. Instead, wherever you find yourself at that moment, simply STOP and either look, listen, taste, smell, hear, or feel what’s around you until you become aware of something IN THAT IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT, AT THAT INSTANT IN TIME that pleases you — it might be a snow-covered tree, or the taste of coffee, or the scent of a coworker’s cologne, or the texture of a blanket. That particular thing, at that particular moment, is your “helper”: allow yourself to set whatever burden it is that you seem to be carrying down on it by experiencing it fully until the sad/frustrated/stressful/grief-filled/craving-overwhelmed begins to subside (because feelings always do — they pass through you like a wind, if you sit with them long enough.) Repeat the process during any instant of the day that your “burden” becomes too great to bear. You will find that, in time, the “burden” and its associated feelings lessen, and that feelings of comfort, happiness, relief, and pride in having overcome — as well as a pervasive sense of hope — come to take their place. This REALLY WORKS!!

    • Catica

      Thank you so much for this post, RTP.

      It really resonates….

  • Marlee

    The forums at the “Get Rich Slowly” blog are interesting and active. There’s also a community on Barbara Sher’s website’s bulletin boards, which probably overlaps with your audience a bit. I think it’s worth a try, but it depends on how much hassle it is for you to set it up and keep it going. You’d need a moderator to keep spam and cranky people off the site. I’d be up for posting, though.

  • Meghan

    Hi there,

    I started a small group with some friends of mine back in May, before I began researching happiness and before I found your blog. We all felt slightly stagnant in our lives and wanted to get moving. Nevertheless, our group seems to operate under a similar model as a happiness-project group!

    So far, I have found working towards goals and fulfillment–whether professional or personal–to be much more powerful when supported and encouraged by a group of like-minded people. The biggest advantage is having others to call you on your excuses and “false truths”; people who ask the tough questions and make you face yourself.

    We have all surprised ourselves with what we are learning about our own values and goals. Most of all, I think we are each of us feeling more secure in our skins, and we are all enjoying our lives more. At least, I know this is true for me!

    Best wishes to everyone else out there paying attention to happiness. Happy holidays! (In every sense of the word!!)

  • jenn

    Hi,
    I’m emailing a group of 10 people who I know and soliciting their help in creating a Happiness Project and/or Happiness Project Group. Many of them do not know each other, and we are scattered around the US and Europe. I don’t know where it will go yet, but I’m framing it as a way of staying connected with people I care about and as a concerted effort to shake off the recession’s blues. I’m suggesting that we start small and create a one-sentence journal to help clear our heads. Hopefully, we’ll turn this into something more structured or formal in the coming weeks as I gauge interest. – Jenn

  • Thomas Reaves

    I am a part of a small of group of men who started doing a study called “Men’s Fraternity” just about the same time I found your website. We have used a lot of the information from both projects to compliment each other. Your blog has become something of a supplement to an already great study. Many of us have already laid out and commitied to each other the areas of our lives we are going to work on each month next year using a combination of your suggestions and the things we needed to address from our studies.

  • Randall

    I worked with some close friends to get our Happiness Project Group going in the San Francisco Bay Area back in August. We’ve now had five meet-ups (called “Happy Hour”) and have hovered around ten attendees each week. While the thought was that we’d get a larger group of people who didn’t know each other together, it’s ended up being more of a group that spreads through personal networking. In other words, nobody who’s joined the Facebook group has ever attended in person, but many of those who come regularly invite other friends who seem to love it and want to come back.

    When we began, I was hoping we’d focus on goal-setting, learning more about happiness research, and concurrently solidify a strong social network which would encourage happiness in and of itself. As each month has passed, I’m finding the social connections are the most exhilarating part because we really look forward to seeing each other while the goal-setting is the part that is giving each participant the most impact in their lives. We’re not perfect on reaching the goals we set, but as time goes on, we each learn more about setting the “right” goals and how to get from talking about it to achieving it. I know that personally, the group is responsible for me beginning a one-sentence journal and also for keeping to my three-walks-a-week goal. Others have made goals around drinking more wine, talking in greater depth to their therapist about difficult issues, and getting involved in an acting class to forward their career (not the same person, Silly – those are sample goals!).

    The biggest gain that I think everyone has taken away from the Happiness Project Group has been that happiness is on our mind much more than it ever would have been without. That means that we start making decisions of what to do based on what will be best for our happiness, and that has brought just a little more (and for some a lot more) happiness to the lives of each person in the group.

  • robbyslaughter

    The Indianapolis Happiness Project is still launching. Our first meeting is set for early January (though we need to hit the streets and do some publicity.)

    My co-organizer and I met online, which is really kind of nice. We have one thing in common: a profound interest in happiness. So we’re trying to work together to find a positive way to promote happiness that we’re both comfortable with.

  • Leslie

    Haven’t started Yet…. But suggesting it to my bookclub for 2010.

  • Tony P.

    I just found you. The nuts and bolts of being happy. Cool. Tony P.

  • http://www.art-works-by-brenda.com/ Brenda Poole

    I have learned again what I already knew. To be happy you must not depend on anything or anyone to make you happy. Happiness comes from within yourself and the ability to accept reality. What ever shape or place you are in you can still choose happiness. This is not rocket science, it’s very simple if you will apply it. Saint Paul said “Chose to be happy no matter what trials you were having.” Nothing has really changed we humans are still the same. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY and if you can’t do this CHOOSE TO BE JOYFUL. Being joyful means you take what ever comes and you deal with it you LIVE IN THE NOW, not tomorrow or yesterday but NOW. Also know there is a force that wants to help you get there, to happiness and it’s the strongest force in the world. It is love.

    • RTP

      Absolutely!

  • sam

    To my own misfortune I spend my online reading time almost exclusively scouring business and financially oriented material to the exclusion of any personal wellness and personal health material. This blog, the only personal wellness blog/site that I do visit almost daily, gives me a kind of ‘sugar boost’ to my day. It’s fantastically written and your personal touch bleeds right through the screen, creating poignant, riveting reads. Nearly every time I read it, I feel better afterwards.

    I have taken countless pieces of your advice. I hope that you continue to carry the torch on this initiative because it changes people’s lives.

  • hellevi

    When I got the computer just three years ago one of the reasons for getting it was to find out what were Tuula’s dynamics and why they would every so often disolve into primeaval ooze.
    I was diagnosed bipolar when I was 16.I always felt this to be the wrong label for myself.One day while again searching for myself again I came upon a new word,looked it up and Lo And Behold, knew to have found the answer——BPD.Borderline Personality Disorder.Seven of the criteria fit me like a shoe .
    There have been priceless glimpses of insights over the years as to the child whose very conception was met with thoughts of apprehension and despair and perhaps destruction.At the age of one and a half I was adopted,brought into safety from war with new strangers (not my adoptive family) and left there for a few days during the second world war.The parting from my new,supposedly permanent family imprinted itself upon me and was the feather that broke the camel’s back.
    After moving on my own four years ago I became alone for the first time in my life and began to pursue in earnest my wellsprings.Age and the search have finally given me what I have looked for all my life,This is apparently also what happens with many BPD patients.The diagnosis just was not around in my childhood and having once been labeled no one seemed to be interested in doing new research.
    My birthmother and all the other mothers I have had did the best they could under the circumstances.Once I realized this, forgiveneness became unnecessary for them or myself.

    • RTP

      My husband was also adopted, and he struggled with BPD for a long time. The hardest parts of it for him has been to overcome the tendency to see everything as black or white, and to not beat himself up over the tiniest little things (which I don’t think is BPD so much, but the way many of his adoptive mother’s partners treated him — eg: everything was always his fault and he couldn’t do anything right. It always comes out about the tiniest things — he breaks an egg yolk while making over-easy eggs, and suddenly he starts emoting about how he just ruins everything. That’s when I run into the kitchen and take him into my arms and tell him how wonderful he is — he IS!! — and how I love him.)

      Everyone does the best they can under the circumstances — it’s good you realized that!

  • Jasmin Nixon

    Everyone has a soul journey, I don’t see it as a genetic lottery, I think we all come into life to discover a key to the greater mystery, we pick our parents, our genetics that reflect the story or history we have experienced since the begining of our time. Some of us want world peace and we struggle with these questions that fill our heads and minds every day and they don’t leave us til the pieces of the puzzle are solved.

  • http://www.itsmyurls.com/BeckyCortino Becky Cortino

    “Your Happiness Project” Facebook Group was launched in early May, and now has 45 members. Some of the members knew others in the group, but it is comprised primarily of individuals who found their way to through natural discovery on Facebook.

    Several of the members have shared with me they have been delighted to be connected through our group. They enjoy the updates and activities, and feel their association has made a difference in their lives through inspiring them and giving them a fresh idea to engender Happiness.

    I wanted to launch this group on Facebook because I was inspired by Gretchen’s writings and thought the endeavor had great merit. I was pleased to support Gretchen’s book and Happiness concept, and was glad my collaboration was so warmly welcomed.

    “Your Happiness Project” Facebook Group:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Your-Happiness-Project/77620436455?ref=ts

  • http://www.itsmyurls.com/BeckyCortino Becky Cortino

    “Your Happiness Project” Facebook Group was launched in early May, and now has 45 members. Some of the members knew others in the group, but it is comprised primarily of individuals who found their way to through natural discovery on Facebook.

    Several of the members have shared with me their delight to be connected through our group. They enjoy the updates and activities, and feel their association has made a difference in their lives through inspiring them and giving them a fresh idea to engender Happiness.

    I wanted to launch this group on Facebook because I was inspired by Gretchen’s writings and thought the endeavor had great merit. I was pleased to support Gretchen’s book and Happiness concept, and was glad my collaboration was so warmly supported.

    Find “Your Happiness Project” Facebook Group:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Your-Happiness-Project/77620436455?ref=ts