The Happiness Project

More Paradoxes of Happiness: I Desire To Not Want

One of my Secrets of Adulthood (cribbed from Niels Bohr) is “The opposite of a great truth is also true.” As I’ve worked on my happiness project, I’ve recognized many paradoxes .


In Marc Lesser’s book Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less , I read a fascinating list of such paradoxes by Chade-Meng Tan, a Google engineer whose title is “Jolly Good Fellow.”

I was quite struck by his list – and also by the number of times that my resolutions and paradoxes overlapped with his.

His list, with my comments:

I strive hard to be lazy. I resolve to Force myself to wander .
I’m selfishly compassionate. This reminds me of the Second Splendid Truth !
I desire to not want. Oh, I recognize that one.
Sometimes, I’m not myself.
Often, I’m not here, where I am. I have a big problem with this one, mindfulness.
I actively engage in nonactivity. I resolve to Schedule time to play .
I feel spiritual about my earthly desires. I loooove this one.
I sometimes fail at failing. I have to remind myself to Enjoy the fun of failure .
I make careless mistakes carefully.
Sometimes, my mind is full of nothing.
My own arrogance humbles me.
I’ve become a famous unknown.
I sometimes pity the more fortunate.


Have you found any paradoxes in your happiness project?

* I get a big kick out of the Art of Manliness blog, especially because I don’t actually worry about my manliness. (When I read a site like the hilarious How Not to Act Old , I end up thinking about my wardrobe, my slang, my music, etc.)

* Seems like I had something I wanted to mention…hmmm, what was it? Oh, right, MY BOOK IS COMING OUT IN A WEEK! Yipes. As a thank-you, if you pre-order , I’ll send you a pack of bonus materials – just email me at gretchenrubin1[at] , and I’ll send it to you. More info here .