Question: What makes you happy?
Gretchen Rubin: One of the things that I had to do in my happiness project was that I wanted to be Gretchen. That’s my first personal commandment is to be Gretchen. And one of the things that I did in order to be Gretchen is I acknowledged that I had a passion. And it was a passion that I had sort of swept under the rug. I didn’t acknowledge that I had this passion because it didn’t fit with the idea I had of myself, or the way I wanted to present myself to the world. I have a passion for children’s literature. Young adult literature. I love it. I’ve always loved it. And I don’t love it because I’m reading it with my daughters; I love it for its own sake, for myself. But I wanted to feel like I was presenting myself as this very adult, very educated, very sophisticated. I love Tolstoy, I love Virginia Woolf, and I do, but I also love YA and children’s literature. But I realized for my happiness project that life’s too short. I don’t have too so many passions that I can squelch one and not lose something from it. I needed to find a way to bring this into my own life. So, what I did is first of all, I just spent much more time letting myself read these books. But then I started a book group for people who loved children’s literature. And this book group has become such a gigantic engine of happiness for me. I meet with all these people, I’ve made new friends. They’re all bookish people, many of them work in the book publishing industry, they love these books, I mean, you can sit around and talk about the fine points of Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, or early Anne of Green Gables. But people who really, really know their stuff, who love these books. So, I get to follow my passion, I make all these new friends, and that group got so large we had to close it and I started a second children’s literature group and now that group is big.
And so that was a way where by following a resolution, to be Gretchen, I really allowed myself to acknowledge who I really am, what I really find fun, what I really like to do, and from that, I gained new friends, a new passion, and a gigantic amount of fun.
Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen