A few weeks ago, my friend Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project asked me five questions about happiness. Thought you might like to see my answers.
But first, I have some very happy news to share with you. I just found out that QUIET will debut at #4 on the New York Times Bestseller List!!! Thank you, dear readers, for making this happen.
And now, for some thoughts on happiness:
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Me: Writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was four years old. But as a grown-up, I trained myself to love my work by doing all my writing in a sunny café window while sipping on a latte and snacking on chocolate. Over time, I came to associate writing with the pleasures of that window seat. These days, I don’t need the coffee or chocolate, or even the café—though they still help! But I love the feeling of entering into my inner world. It’s like going through a magic portal every time I sit at my laptop.
Gretchen: What is your most surprising way of feeling happy?
Me: Recently I’ve been thinking about a state I call the “happiness of melancholy.” Why do supposedly sad things, like minor key music or the evanescence of cherry blossoms, make us happy? I think they help us appreciate the fragile beauty of life and love.
More news from the ongoing QUIET media blitz coming soon. Stay tuned!
What are your thoughts about happiness — what it is, and how to achieve it?
Hello Susan! Congratulations I am so happy for you, for me, for every child, and for the future development of classrooms that allow the introverted to be themselves. Your book should be required reading for every teacher in training,and their professors, at every college of education!
Just yesterday I read the following on Quora.com, in reply to a question about readers’ favorite parables:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
That pretty much sums it up for me.
I love this quote about the wolves! So very profound.
It’s really OK to be happy quietly?? Yay! Your book is so affirming to those, like me, who just couldn’t do the things required to be “popular.” Over the last few years I’ve learned to define happiness differently. Now I know why and that I am not alone reveling in inner joy. Thank you.
Congratulations, Susan! I plan to pick up my own copy this weekend, so let’s see if we can keep it high in the best seller list. I also shared one of your interviews on my Facebook page. A few of my introverted friends will be interested. Unfortunately, my many extrovert friends don’t seem as interested in these personality-related books and studies. Maybe it has something to do us introverts just being more naturally reflective and interested in these things. I do have to say that your blog and books by Laurie Helgoe and Marti Olson-Laney have really helped me. I tend to be surrounded by extroverts (I’m also shy and befriend extroverts more easily) and I always felt that I was somehow “wrong” for not being as easily social as my friends are or for preferring to stay in and read on a Friday night instead of always going to busy clubs till 2am. Or even, god forbid, hating to have to be on the phone so much at work. It’s been great to realize that there really is nothing wrong with my own preferences.
I was very lucky to hear Susan speak at my work place yesterday. To use her line, it really shone a light on my personality characteristics — those I previously considered to be weaknesses (e.g., not thinking as fast on my feet as I would like).
I am a vendor at this company, actively preparing to interview for full time positions. Susan’s research and presentation not only helped me understand my previously perceived weaknesses but they will help me explain how I work around those weaknesses — and celebrate (o.k., brag about) those positives we introverts bring to the table. All in all, I feel this insight will make me a better employee and will most certainly ease the process of interviewing. On a personal level, I will feel more comfortable in my own skin.
My favorite line Susan presented: “There is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
Susan Cain is a closet extrovert.
Gretchen’s happiness interviews always make me very happy. I’m so glad she chose to interview you!