How To Make Yourself Happy

There’s a growing body of thought that says happiness isn’t something that happens to you, but something you can go out and get, something you can create. Happiness isn’t a place, but rather a state of mind.

You can make yourself happy. If only you decide you want to do it, and find the right way to go about it.

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness. Her booksHappier at Home andThe Happiness Project were both instant New York Times bestsellers, and The Happiness Project has spent more than a year on the bestseller list.

At her blog, Rubin talks about ways she goes about researching happiness and testing out various theories in her own life. One of those ways is to take on a happiness project. That is, consider creating a plan to make yourself happy. People resolve to do things that will make themselves happy.

And, according to Rubin, the number-one thing that people resolve, the first thing that they say will make them happy once they start doing it is. . . making the bed.

Yes, really.

Now, it’s true that some people thrive on a little chaos. They find a disorderly room to be comfy and casual. When one of my friends was growing up, her mother made such a big deal of keeping the house clean that now my friend has gone far in the opposite direction. Very far. Most people, however, even if they may find it tough to keep things tidy, prefer to live in orderly surroundings.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.

You dudes have no idea how many times I’ve tried to drive this lesson home to the young dudes in the house. You should see their desks. Well, no, maybe you shouldn’t see their desks. They’ve been known to drive strong men to drink, less-strong men to scream and just-plain men to run into the night, even when it’s daytime.

“Why do I have to make my bed? It’s just going to get messed up again tonight.”

If your little dude or dudette is older than six or so, you’ve definitely heard that sentiment. And, yes, it will get messy again, but for the time it’s not. . . It’s as if theirs is a whole different room.

Rubin is right. When my bed is made, my room looks more open, less crowded, less like a cave and more like a space in which someone might want to live.

When my desk is clean and neat, I just feel better. I feel like I can get things done. Mostly because I usually use the excuse of straightening up to procrastinate when I’ve got work to do. Still, there’s nothing to beat that neat-desk feeling.

It’s something that really is difficult to get across to those young enough that they don’t understand it intuitively, as most adults do. Outer order contributes to inner calm. 

Give it a try. Even if you can’t get the little dudette in your life to do it right now, at least making your own bed will leave you feeling better, happier and more ready to face the day.

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