The Happiness of Doing Something New: The Audiobook Version

How to be happier.
Nov. 12 2009 8:37 AM

The Happiness of Doing Something New: The Audiobook Version

People often ask, "What's something surprising that you've learned about happiness?" Here's one thing: I was very surprised by the truth of the principle that novelty and challenge bring happiness .


I believed that this observation was true for a lot of people, but I didn’t think it would be true for me . I love routine. I revel in the little pleasures of my ordinary day. I don’t like to travel. I don’t even like to go to new restaurants. My favorite thing to do is to hang around the house and read in my pajamas.


But I had to test that theory for my book , and I discovered—yes, this is very true. I realized—and studies confirm —that novelty and challenge often mean delayed happiness. First comes a stressful period of feeling frustrated, stupid, exposed, insecure, confused … but along with that discomfort, you get a big surge of happiness.

That’s exactly what happened to me with my blog -- in fact, I started the blog solely for the purpose of testing that principle, and my blog has proved it to me.

Today I’m going to do something novel and challenging. I’m off to record the audiobook for The Happiness Project . I’m going to read my entire book aloud – they estimate it will take eleven hours! (Mercifully spread over four days.)

What will it be like to listen to my own voice for eleven hours? Will I have enough liveliness in my voice, or too much? I imagine it’s pretty tough to strike the right balance. I’ve listened to Jim Dale read Harry Potter and Cherry Jones read the Little House books – extraordinarily good.

Also, what will I think of own book, when I’m reading it aloud instead of silently? I’ve heard of writers who read their work aloud as part of the editing process, but I’ve never tried that.

This process will be novel and challenging, but in the end, I imagine it will bring happiness. I'll go to a new part of town, in a new environment with new people doing something new -- and the experience will very likely boost my happiness. I’m certainly happy and feel very lucky that my publisher decided to do an audiobook at all.

* I'd heard of The Pioneer Woman before, of course, but I hadn't gotten around to visiting it until Pamela Redmond Satran told me to check it out. Funny stuff there.

* If you're interested in launching a group for people who meet to do their happiness projects together, sign up for the starter-kit . More than 3,300 people have requested it. You might also like to check out the Facebook conversation for group leaders -- that's a good resource if you're getting started.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.