Why Is Happiness So Hard? An Interview with Gretchen Rubin

by | Feb 1, 2012 | Interviews & Inspiration | 19 comments

A while back, my husband said something shocking.

“I know you love your work, I just wish it didn’t make you so miserable.”

Say what?  I demanded to know what he meant.

He reminded me that I tended to push myself harder now that I am so engaged with what I’m doing, which means I’m frequently sleep deprived, overworked, and stressed.

“For someone who loves their work as much as you do, you just don’t seem that happy.  That’s all I’m saying.”

And yet if you asked me nearly any day of the week if I am happy, I would smile broadly and give you an emphatic yes.  Nor would I be lying.

Such is the paradox called happiness.

Most of you don’t know this, but I didn’t start this blog talking about careers.  What initially occupied my mind was whether one could design a happier life, because I felt something was missing from mine.  And since my relationships were already in good standing, my writing gradually started to focus on the career part of the equation.

Which is not to say I’ve figured it out.  In fact, I still find happiness to be complicated and occasionally elusive.

So I decided to interview one of my favorite authorities on the topic: Gretchen Rubin, author of the international best-seller The Happiness Project.

I devoured the book and really felt like I’d found a kindred spirit (as is obvious in my rather giddy introduction).  But I still had a ton of questions.  In this interview, Gretchen and I talk about:

  • How to deal with your lingering feelings of career illegitimacy, especially if you want to follow your passion
  • Why you need an atmosphere of growth, even if it scares you silly
  • How to balance short-term stress versus long-term happiness
  • How to stop bullying yourself with personal development goals (as I discussed in this post)
  • 3 trick questions for uncovering what you really what from work and life
  • How success sometimes sets us up for failure (and the surprising way to prevent it)
[audio:Everyday-Bright-Interview-with-Gretchen-Rubin.mp3|titles=Everyday Bright interview with Gretchen Rubin]

Right click to download the audio file (MP3)

Right click to download the transcript

I hope you make time to listen to the interview or read the transcript.  It’s one of my favorites (among some amazing interviews).  But if you don’t, then take away this one quote

Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy

Not that I’m trying to tell my husband I told you so (ahem).

But it was wonderfully reassuring to know that I’m not crazy or delusional or teetering on the edge of that proverbial mid-life crisis. While I still have a lot to learn about designing a happy life, it’s also clear I’ve come a long way.

So what about you?  Are you happy?  And how do you know?