Gretchen Rubin of the excellent blog The Happiness Project interviews me on the topic:
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Ben: Stimulating, soulful, laughter-filled conversation.
Gretchen: Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Ben: Dwelling on a negative thought that seems to just cycle through my head. Wish I had better mind control so I could say to myself: "Accept thoughts on X, deny thoughts on Y." The passage of time, I've found, is the only reliable way a negative thought flushes out of my system.
Gretchen: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve find very helpful?
Ben: I collect tons of quotes and mantras. One I read yesterday I liked: "The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable." – Martin Buber. Not sure it's my ultimate mantra, but it's a good one. I spend most of my cycles trying to figure out why things work they way they do, and I need to remind myself that some things just *can't* be rationally, logically explained.
Gretchen: If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost?
Ben: Treadmill and push-ups. Talking to family and long-term friends. And trying to cheer other people up (in the process, I cheer up myself).
Gretchen: Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy — if so, why? If you were unhappy, how did you become happier?
Ben: I'm more even keeled. I think I have a high set point. But, the past few months I've felt more funks than usual, and while it has been difficult I think hitting lower moments makes you appreciate the highs more. How am I dealing with it? Confronting the unhappiness directly and moving swiftly to eliminate what I see as the causes — the events, people, things, etc — from my life. And trying to be at peace with the fact that life is cyclical and some days / months / years will be better than others.
Gretchen: Do you work on being happier? If so, how?
Ben: I think about it / work on it. If you don't actively think about it, you outsource what it means to others, like the media, and they tend to promote a materialistic conception of the word. So I do think it's possible to pursue happiness without ever really knowing what it means, or without ever thinking you'll actually *arrive*.
Of course, one of the main ways I think about happiness is by reading the blog The Happiness Project. Have you heard of it? Some great stuff there.