what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

Happy by Design

12 September 2023

Rachel admired her new-ish tattoo and her vase of LEGO flowers and considered some of the ways she’s found to make the bright spots in her days a little more durable.

Tags: change, happiness, lego lessons, rachel read

I first read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project in 2011. (As I reflected then, any book with both pleasure and purpose is a good thing.) Rubin’s work then and now brings an almost-scientific discipline to the habits of happiness in a way that I find admirable… and sometimes exhausting.

In the dozen years between then and now, I’ve had some practice in the pursuit of happiness. Fresh flowers bring me delight (and I’m lucky enough to have the resources that allow them), so I’d try to have them on my desk at work. Our family mascot stuffed animals (even before the validation of this New York Times piece) are a source of comfort and creativity, so one often travels with me. I continue to indulge my affection for books-with-little-redeeming-value; a new title was released last week just in time for my next flight.

Despite this practice, there are still more times than I’d like to admit when even simple happiness feels just too hard, when I don’t make time to pick up flowers, or a book sits on my nightstand gathering dust. And even knowing that I’m not alone in my affection for Snugs, the stuffed bear I’ve had since I was 16, it’s not practical for him to accompany me everywhere.

Until, that is, last August when my husband created some temporary tattoos as a fiftieth birthday surprise. They are all magical, but I especially love a bracelet he drew of all seven. I applied the tattoo, it wore off. (That’s what temporary tattoos do.) After a few cycles of that, I got out of the routine. And then one day this winter, I looked down at my wrist and I missed it.

In all the literature about change and habits and personal growth, from the Heath brothers’ Switch to Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and so much in between, experts talk about the benefits of making the things that contribute to our well-being as easy and infallible as possible. In my case, since Gretchen Rubin’s discipline isn’t my strong suit, that means I need to design happiness interventions that persist even when I might falter.

Fortunately for me, I found Molly Freeman and Magnolia Tattoo Studio, and now the tattoo is a permanent fixture on my wrist. Every single time I glimpse it, I smile. A dear client friend continued the pattern by gifting me some LEGO Botanical Collection flowers; I’ve since added to my ‘bouquet,’ and now there are always flowers on my desk and they never wilt. (That doesn’t detract at all from the delight of the Sweet Greens Farm flower CSA, which I highly recommend.)

All this has made me think about other arenas where I might be able to shift more things from the “when I remember” to “always on” zones, all while being even more grateful for the things that I have. And the even better news is that it’s easy to share the fun. The next time you visit Allison Partners, I hope you’ll poke your head in my door to enjoy the (scent-free) flowers, or ask for an introduction to Snugs (and Surge, Sparky, Flops, Squish, Merlot, and Hops). We’ll be glad to see you.


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

There are no comments for this entry yet.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now