What happiness author Gretchen Rubin has found is that actively seeking out a content lifestyle by making big changes is much less successful than people would hope. In her most recent book, Happiness at Home, Rubin focuses on marriage, parenthood and possessions, transforming small matters, like cluttered kitchen cabinets or overstuffed closets, into streams of happiness. “Outer order contributes to inner calm,” she says. She suggests that sometimes we have to ask ourselves why we change things that aren’t broken.
What’s the Big Idea?
Some researchers have taken a more scientific approach to achieving happiness. Rather than making drastic life changes, small alternations to your routine can pay large dividends. “Constantly striving for happiness can overemphasize our shortcomings—which may amplify sadness. That’s not to say all negative thoughts are bad. In fact, sometimes awareness of negativity leads to important insight. ‘Negative thoughts can sometimes be useful when they alert us to a potential threat or danger,’ says June Gruber, assistant professor of psychology at Yale. ‘Or signal to us that something isn’t right in a relationship or circumstance.'”