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Your 'Happiness Group' Starter Kit

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HAPPINESS GROUP
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One happiness-project resolution that has added enormously to my happiness is my resolution to join or start a group.

For many people, making and keeping friends is one of the most important (and challenging) elements of their happiness project, and being part of a group is a terrific way to make new friends, deepen existing friendships, have fun, create a sense of belonging, and spend time thinking about a subject that interests you. (For tips on making friends, read here and here). It sounds odd to talk about "efficiency" in the context of friendship, but belonging to a group is a very efficient way to build and strengthen relationships -- especially if you have a hard time making time for friendships.

I've heard from lots of people who want to launch or join groups for people doing happiness projects together, so I created this (free) starter kit to help folks get the ball rolling. If you want a copy, email me at gretchenrubin1 at gretchenrubin dot com.

People all over the world have started groups for people doing happiness projects together. These groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give encouragement, and -- perhaps most important -- hold each other accountable. (Think AA and Weight Watchers.) Some of these groups consist of people who know each other already -- colleagues at a law firm, a sorority, a church study group, members of a family -- and some of these groups consist of strangers who come together just to work on happiness projects.

Thanks to the people who responded to a survey, I now have a list of many of the existing groups. You can see the current list of existing groups here or on Facebook here. If you'd like to find out if other people in your areas would like to start a new group with you, start a "discussion topic" under the "discussions" tab in the left-hand column on Facebook here. If you've started a group, please do take a second to answer these six quick questions! It's really helpful to have this information.

One important note: it takes work to start a group, and once a group has started, it takes work to keep it going. My three children's literature reading groups are among the lights of my life, but they do require a fair amount of time and energy. (Yes, it's true, I'm in three of these groups.) The thing is, being in this group is so worth the effort. It absolutely is. But it's not effortless. For instance, right now I'm in the middle of an email blizzard as I try to coordinate the next meeting date for one group. It's a bit of a hassle --- but what truly fun thing isn't sometimes a bit of a hassle?

As Samuel Johnson (one of the patron saints of my happiness project) observed: "The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced." And while it takes special energy to start something, it also takes energy to keep something going. Just acknowledging that to myself helps me expend the energy more readily.

Have you found that it takes effort to be in a group? And did the group make you happy, nevertheless? What kinds of groups make you happy?

I'm working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone's project will look different, but it's the rare person who can't benefit. Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday's post will help you think about your own happiness project.

* I got a kick out of seeing these smiles hidden in everyday scenes.

* Want a free, personalized bookplate for your copy of The Happiness Project - or for a friend? Or a signed signature card (if you have an e-book or audio-book)? Sign up here or email me at gretchenrubin1 at gretchenrubin dot com. ask for as many as you'd like, I'll mail anywhere, and they're free.