11/28/2011 12:39 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2012

Self-Knowledge: Identify Your Patron Saints.

Self-knowledge is crucial to happiness, but it's challenging to know yourself. Sometimes, I find, I can gain insight by asking myself questions that make me take stock of my interests and values.

For that reason, I asked myself, "Who are my patron saints? Of my Happiness Project, in particular, and for myself generally?" (A "patron saint" is a saint who has a special connection to a person, place, profession, or activity, or in more casual terms, a person who serves as a particular leader or example.)

Here are my six patron saints:

Benjamin Franklin: practical, curious, inventive.

St. Therese of Lisieux: showing great love through small, ordinary actions.

Samuel Johnson: wildly eccentric with a deep understanding of human nature.

Julia Child: goofy yet masterly; light-hearted yet authoritative.

Winston Churchill: indefatigable, indomitable.

Virginia Woolf: intensely attuned to the power of the passing moment.

Well, Julia Child and Winston Churchill are probably rarely paired together in the same discussion, but they both represent very powerful ideas to me. It's interesting -- the posts I've written about these figures are among my favorites of all the posts I've written. I love thinking and writing about my patron saints.

Who are your patron saints? Why?

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.

* Speaking of Samuel Johnson, my next book takes its title from Johnson. Johnson remarked, "To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends." My next book is called Happier at Home. What a pleasure it has been to write this book! If you'd like to be notified when it's available, sign up here.