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Happiness Is…A Great Event at the 92nd Street Y. Also, an Important Happiness Question.

Posted Feb 11 2010 10:00am

I had a great time speaking at the 92nd Street Y last night. It’s an organization that pulls in an extraordinary range of fascinating speakersso I was thrilled to be asked to give a talk there.

One issue came up during the question-and-answer periodand I’m surprised that I haven’t thought about it more carefully before now – because it’s an obvious challenge to happiness.

How do you insulate yourself from the people who drag down your happiness? How do you protect yourself from their unhappiness? You can avoid a “toxic friend,” but if the person is a familymember or a co-workeryou have to find a way to deal with him or her.

You may find a way to laugh about it.

You may find a way to follow the last of my Twelve Personal Commandments: "There is only love." A friend was the source of that commandment. She came up with the phrase when she was considering taking a high-pressure job where she’d be working for a notoriously difficult person. The person handling the hiring process told her“I’m going to be honest with you. John Doe is very effectivebut he’s an extremely tough guy to work for. Think hard about whether you want this job.” My friend really wanted the jobso she decided“There is only love.” From that moment onshe refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him. She says that this strategy has allowed her to work harmoniously with a guy who drives everyone else crazily.

Those are two ideas. What are some other useful strategies? What has worked for you? This is such an important issue!

* I loved reading this essay"Before I Die," written by a seventeen-year-old boy in 1938who died in 2008 at age 87having lived the life he wanted to live. Writing a "Before I Die" essay would be a great exercise for any happiness project.

* I send out short monthly newsletters that highlight the best of the previous month’s posts to about 37,000 subscribers. If you’d like to sign upclick here or email me at gretchenrubin1 [at] (don't forget the "1"). Just write “newsletter” in the subject line. It’s free.

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