So earlier this week I was watching the Today Show while I had my first cup of coffee and tried to wake up. The spot featured a couple of authors, talking about happiness. As in, how to be.
It’s a bit of a commentary on our society, I guess, that happiness has become something we have to work at. Talk about pressure.
Here are of the tips for being happy, according to authors Ian Smith (Happy: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life) and Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project), annotated for writers by yours truly. (What? You think we have to be miserable to create art? Suffering for your craft is a different post.)
1) Make your bed. (Odd but true! I always do the dishes at night, because coming down to a neat kitchen starts my day on a happy note. Well… Okay. A less grumpy note.)
Writing corollary: Neat piles of paper (instead of messy ones) makes me happy, and when I sit down to work, I feel like my mind is neater and fresher. It all comes down, of course, to a control thing. Because I’m a freak that way.
2) Practice random kindness. (I try to be kind in NON-random ways, but I get the point.)
Writing corollary: It costs nothing to be nice to your author colleagues, give them a shout out on Twitter or a nice review when you like their book (and keep your mouth/fingers quiet when you don’t). But it can cost a lot to piss off someone who may be in a position someday to recommend your book/give you a cover quote/hook you up with an excellent promotional opportunity.
3) Forgive people.
Writing corollary: Let bad reviews go and petty offenses roll off your back. (I admit I have trouble with the first, and while I’m pretty good at the second, I don’t necessarily forget.)
4) Form relationships. Book clubs, reunion groups… basically, don’t be a hermit.
Writing corollary: Sometimes the only social interaction we get is on Twitter. Get out of your cave now and then, and don’t forget that non-writing friends can be good for you, too. After all, someone’s got to buy your books.
5) Be true to yourself and what makes you happy.
Writing corollary: Write what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you what you should be writing!