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.


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

Walmart Is Crushing the Rest of Corporate America in Adopting Solar Power

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.