This year, I learned a lot about happiness, and I spoke to a lot of people who have helped me think about happiness in a different way. Here are a few that stood out.
1. The 100 Interviews project: Last year, New York City-based writer and comedian Gaby Dunn sat down and made a list of 100 people she would like to interview, from an anti-abortion activist to someone who had saved a life. She did it simply because she was curious and because she wanted to flex her mental muscles a little by forcing herself into encounters with people she might otherwise never engage with. The result — 100 Interviews — is a glowing reminder of the need for personal challenges in everyday life.
2. Thanking my parents: I was cruising randomactsofkindness.org while working on a story about being kinder, and found most of the tips pretty obvious: I already hold doors open and tip for takeout and thank my bus/cab drivers. But then I came across a tip that really hit home: say thank you to your parents. I thought about what might be most meaningful to each of my parents — after all, it seemed so broad to just thank them across the board for everything they’ve done. For my mom, I thanked her for passing along her curiosity and wanderlust. And for my dad, I thanked him for being so supportive of my choices, even with the decisions I know he wouldn’t have made. It felt great and meant a lot to all of us. And it was a great reminder that we shouldn’t take those closest to us for granted.
3. Neil Pasricha and The Book of Awesome: I’ve interviewed Neil Pasricha several times, and it’s always a pleasure. His blog and books focus on the little everyday miracles that make daily life — even in the midst of commuter traffic and impossible work deadlines and the dog pooping in the house — a joy. Some of Pasricha’s favourite little things include waking up to the smell of bacon, finding yourself in the fastest lane at the grocery store, and when the person you’re late to meet is even later than you are. And all you need to do to find these little things is to keep your eyes open.