The Pursuit of Happiness
As an expert on human nature and the habits that cultivate happiness, Gretchen Rubin discusses ways we can develop and apply a personalized framework to create happier, more productive, creative lives.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. In Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, she provides surprising insights and practical advice drawn from cutting-edge research, ancient wisdom, and her own observations, about how we can make our lives better than before. She investigates the multiple strategies she’s identified that help us make and break our habits. After all, habits are the invisible architecture of a happy life, and when we change our habits, we change our lives. The secret to changing a habit? First, we must know ourselves, so we can suit our habits to our own nature. It was Rubin’s longstanding interest in happiness that led her to the study of habits, because when she talked to people about their happiness challenges, they often pointed to a habit that they couldn’t make or break. This pattern made her ask, “When and why can people successfully change a habit—or not?”
Her previous books include the #1 New York Times and international bestseller, The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. The Happiness Project has sold more than one million copies, has been published in more than thirty languages, and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list.
In her New York Times bestseller Happier at Home, Rubin explores how to make home a happier place, by concentrating on the factors that matter most for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, parenthood, body, neighborhood.
She’s been interviewed by Oprah and walked arm-in-arm with the Dalai Lama.
On Gretchen Rubin’s popular blog, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness and habits. Millions of people read her blog each year. “I’ve become a bit of a happiness bully,” she confessed.
On her popular weekly podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft; they’ve been called the “Click and Clack of podcasters.” The podcast hit #6 on iTunes on the first day it launched. It ranks in the top 1% of podcasts and was named in iTunes’s and Vulture’s lists of “Best Podcasts of 2015.” The New Yorker observed, “Their voices remind you that life is a human project that we’re all experimenting with.”
With her work, Rubin has emerged as one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on habits and happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in these subjects. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that rewards play a very tricky role in the formation of habits, and true simplicity is far from simple to attain, and that used rightly, money can do a lot to buy happiness—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds.
She’s known for her ability to distill and convey complex ideas in a way that’s accessible to a wide range of readers. Response to Rubin’s writing has been overwhelming. Dozens of blogs have been launched by people following Gretchen’s example. Psychiatrists tell their patients to read her books, professors assign them to their students, book groups discuss them, families pass them around, and people do Habits and Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell her how she’s influenced them. In the New York Times Book Review, Rubin was described as “the queen of the self-help memoir.” “It’s great to be called the queen, but I’d say my work is ‘self-helpful,’ not ‘self-help.’” Rubin explained. She added, “Really, I’m a moral essayist, but that sounds so dull.”
Rubin is much in demand as a speaker, and she has addressed corporate audiences at places such as GE, Google, LinkedIn, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, as well as university audiences such as Yale Law School, Harvard Business School, and Wharton. She has appeared at numerous conferences as a featured speaker or keynoter, at places such as SXSW, World Domination Summit, the 92nd Street Y, 5×15, TEDx, BlogHer, the Atlantic, Alt Design, Q Cities, Behance’s 99u, Mom 2.0, West Point, Lucid, and the Texas, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania Conferences for Women. She makes frequent TV appearances, for instance, on Today, Kathie Lee & Hoda, CBS Sunday Morning, The Early Show, Katie, "Q" radio, Booknotes with Brian Lamb, and NPR’s "Weekend Edition." The Happiness Project was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy!
Rubin, an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, has a wide, active following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube (more than 2.3 million views)—not to mention her wildly popular monthly newsletter, book club, and daily email of quotations.
Rubin is a notable example of an author using a blog and social media to create discussion around a subject and her work. Rubin was one of the first people asked to become a LinkedIn “Influencer,” where she has an enormous, active group of followers. She was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness,” one of Inc.’s Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts, and one of the “22 Brilliant Thinkers Everyone Should Follow on Twitter” by Business Insider. In traditional media, Rubin has written for many national publications, and was columnist in Good Housekeeping magazine. She appeared on the inaugural cover of Live Happy magazine, February 2014, and she appeared on the cover of Parade magazine.
A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal and winner of the Edgar M. Cullen Prize, Rubin started her career in law. She clerked for Judge Pierre Leval and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she really wanted to be a writer. Her bestselling Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill and Forty Ways to Look at JFK are succinct, provocative biographies. Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide is biting social criticism in the form of a user’s manual. Profane Waste, a collaboration with artist Dana Hoey, examines the question of why owners choose to destroy their own possessions. She also has three terrible novels safely locked in a desk drawer.