giveaway: intersecting gretchen rubin, and happiness

FOR THREE YEARS, I’VE BEEN BLOGGING on A Way to Garden, and for three years, I’ve been watching as Gretchen Rubin—until three weeks ago a stranger to me—manifested her own online community, The Happiness Project, from scratch.  From the start, I thought, “this person is on to something,” and sure enough, a Number 1 book of the same name came to be. Just weeks before my own book launched, we finally met, and here’s what happened (with a chance to win one of three copies of Gretchen’s new paperback edition that I bought to help celebrate her success):

Our different-and-yet-not-different paths—ex-attorney Gretchen re-invented herself as a writer—led us to a midtown Manhattan publisher’s offices during Social Media Week last month. We appeared together on a panel about blogging and other tools to help authors create community, and therefore (hopefully!) readers. I nervously gave Gretchen a copy of my book afterward; by later that day, she sent me an invitation and the questions for her weekly “happiness project interview,” which just appeared.

You can read it here—but the headline she chose from among my answers gives you a hint of what fun it is: “A Very Close Friend Says That I Am Not Type A, but AAA.” Gretchen’s deceptively simple questions, things like “what activities make you happier” and “what gets in the way of your happiness,” were really helpful to me in a very stressful time, the lead-up to my book launch. In fact, doing the interview was positively therapeutic.

border-book-large-sealTHAT’S BECAUSE THE BASIC premise of “The Happiness Project” is also deceptively simple but powerful: Gretchen contends that by taking small, concrete steps in your everyday life, you can increase your happiness. I have to say I agree. She does weekly videos to help, like the one up top, and then, of course, her extensive website and YouTube channel and the book itself.  Which you can win one of three copies of by answering this question:

What “spiritual master” would you imitate if you followed Gretchen’s latest tip?

Disclaimer: It doesn’t need to be a religious leader at all (but it can be). The interpretation is broad; Gretchen herself has found mentoring and inspiration in the diverse works of Winston Churchill (of whom she wrote a biography) and a Catholic nun named St. Therese de Lisieux (1873-1897), for instance.

Me? Lately I find sustenance in Jack Kornfield (“A Path With Heart”) and Pema Chodron (“Comfortable With Uncertainty”) and also naturalist John Burroughs. I talked about some of them in my interview with Gretchen. I hope you will go say hello.

Recently, another author, Katrina Kenison and I talked about this topic when we asked you to help us make a list of “books for the journey,” which might be worth browsing through if you want to ponder a bit first.

How to Win 1 of 3 Books

SIMPLY ANSWER THE QUESTION: What “spiritual master” would you imitate if you followed Gretchen’s latest tip?, posting your reply in the comments here before midnight Sunday, March 6. I’ll pick the three winners at random the next day, using the tool at random [dot] org.

Now you know me: You can get away without answering the question, and just say, “Count me in,” or “I’d like to win” if you’re feeling shy. But if you are up for it, let us know your story. Good luck!

  1. Laura says:

    Count me in & so thankful to have found your blog!

    Jesus~because His word always gives me hope.
    Stepping out of the box: My kiddos. What I learn from them daily is unmeasurable.

  2. rachelle says:

    My mother, Maryellen, who by her daily example of loving & respecting life, laughing often, caring for those in need and instilling faith in God. She passed away at the young ripe age of 54, before she was able to meet many of her grandchildren. Now that I’m 54, I can’t imagine leaving this place of earthly delights just yet! Like me, my 10 other siblings all feel her presence & her approval every time we gather for another family celebration!

  3. mary hassell says:

    I love lynn cain author of widow and life lines. Although she is now dead, her words give me great comfort

  4. Donna Campbell says:

    Count me in ! I look up to Lesley Bremness. She wrote The Complete Book of Herbs in 1988. She’ll spark your interest in herbs and been as great source of ideas over the years.

  5. Johanna says:

    Here’s another voice for the Dalai Lama, whose kindness must be born from a joyful heart. Is he happy? I don’t know. But that deep, living joy must be Paradise enow.

  6. MWionChitty says:

    Treat you better than me
    Because that’s the heavenly key
    To unlock the inner strength
    Where my essence will be
    It’s the knowledge of self
    Understanding of the things around me
    That becomes the wisdom that I need
    Living this life to the best of my ability

    – Feather by Nujabes

  7. Lindsay says:

    My grandmother-a spiritual figure in my sense. She is a constant demonstration of strength of will and the ability to do anything you believe you can.

  8. Marianne says:

    Count me in!

    Alice Waters has inspired me to educate children about growing their own food and the importance of nutrition. I attended the Alice Waters Academy this summer. I came away with a new resolve to make the after school gardening program I am involved with to be the best for the students involved!!

  9. Cindy James says:

    what a great way to set ourselves on a path to happiness. My spiritual Master would have to be Christ, and I am grateful for this question because it motivates me to read and study his life and teachings as I never had before. Thank You

  10. Sue G says:

    I would have to say my mother, she instilled in me the love of birds and she loved seeing things grow, everytime I planted a new garden she wanted one, sometimes she was just like a kid too!!

  11. Priscilla says:

    My Grandmother is my Spitual Master. In her life she rose above her childhood and the depression. She inspired me to see and be a support to others. To offer strength through humor and love. She lived very simply and enjoyed when the flowers bloomed. Her food and dress were simple. Her faith was strong. I look and pray to her for my strength.

  12. Jane in CT says:

    Josselyne Herman-Saccio, who never makes anyone wrong and who joyously listens for the greatness in each person.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us and to all who have answered so far on this response on your blog. First of all, the One who made the first garden and then created man and woman to care for it. Knowing that we, man, would want more that every tree but one, made the way for us to be once more reunited with Him through His Son. His Son, who also had the experience in the garden which would change history even to the calendar we now use. Wow what a Savior! Makes me love, love everyone!! Then I share in my garden and with joy work it until so very tired once the winter starts retreating. Welcome Spring!! Love this blog!

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