The Happiness Project

How To Make Friends and Have Fun

One of my happiness-project resolutions is to  join or start a group . I can’t begin to measure how much happiness I’ve received from starting my two children’s-literature reading groups. (Yes, now I belong to two of these groups, because the first one got so big we stopped accepting new people.) If you’re trying to find more happiness in life, being part of a group helps you make new friends, deepen existing friendships, and have fun—all factors that will make you happier. Also, it can be a source of an atmosphere of growth in your life, also a key to happiness.

If you want to start a group, a common passion is a great organizing principle: French movies, learning Italian, training for a marathon. But what if you don’t have a specific passion that lends itself to a group activity? What’s another way to form a group?

A reader, Jeff, wrote me with a great idea. He’s starting a club, The Magnificent Secret Science Club , all about conversation—with the idea that people are increasingly connecting through technology but they still need and want a way to meet face-to-face.

Jeff has organized people to meet regularly in a bar for conversation. At each meeting, he’ll open with three questions for discussion, and then everyone can talk to each other.

This group meets in Minneapolis, so how do I know about it? Because he asked me for some discussion questions about happiness.

I tried to think of questions that would generate real debate and self-disclosure. (Self-disclosure is a great way to build trust and friendship.) I suggested:

1. What’s the relationship between money and happiness?
2. What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
3. Is it selfish to work on being happier?
4. Is there a quotation, a book, or a scene from a movie that you’ve found particularly compelling?
5. If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost?
6. Have you noticed people with habits that regularly detract from their happiness? Or boost their happiness?

In fact … it strikes me that a great organizing principle for a group would be happiness! Everyone has strong views and experiences to share. If people got together to talk about their happiness projects, they could swap ideas, build enthusiasm, and hold themselves accountable—and have fun with friends at the same time. How great would it be to see happiness meet-ups popping up across the country? Boy, if people want to start happiness-project groups, I’d create some kind of kit to help them get the ball rolling. If you think you’d be interested in starting something like that, drop me a note at gretchenrubin [at] gmail [dot com] . (Sorry to write in that weird way—trying to thwart spammers.)

I know some of you are wincing at this idea—yes, I know you’re scoffing! Oh well, it’s not for everyone. Have you formed a group? What organizing principle did you use?

* I always enjoy checking out The Art of Non-Conformity . Great stuff there—and very original presentation.