There are twenty-four hours in each day. There are 168 hours in each week. There are 8736 hours in each year. There are, on average, 672,672 hours in each lifetime.
The so what here matters. Our days, our weeks, our years, our lives, are made up of hours. And how we spend these hours, these sixty-minute chunks of time, is important. How we spend these hours - and with whom - informs how happy we are.
So, yes. Here is my decidedly unscientific hypothesis: There is a direct correlation between hours and happiness.
Now, if you have spent more than five minutes chez ILI reading my musings, you know that I don't believe in Happiness, in the Platonic, capital H species of well-being. Once upon a time, I penned a post called You Are Not Happy. And I stand by my assertion. You might be happy. But you are not Happy. All of this is to say that however satisfied we are with ourselves and our lives, however passionate we feel about our families and our careers, we can all stand to be happier.
Do you disagree?
Didn't think so.
And so. It occurred to me that a simple way to be happier is to have happier hours, more minutes and moments where we do things that make us smile and celebrate and savor existence. Okay, fine. But what do we do? How do we do this?
We talk. We question. We imagine. We dream.
We have conversations with other people - interesting and interested people - about things that matter to us. All of us.
I have said this before, but for me happiness is conversation. Talking about ideas, weaving words, examining the canvas of life alongside others... These are the things that rev me up, that slacken my angst, that make me feel alive and engaged.
And so. A while back, I had a little idea. It started as so many ideas do. As a tiny seed. And the wild winds of a busy life threatened to blow this seed away. But the seed was sturdy and stubborn and took root. In the soil of my dreams and of my days. And from it, something grew. Something great. Something I am finally ready to tell you about!
Next week, forty or so women will gather in my home for the very first Happier Hour. We will come together to sip words and wine. This will be the first in a series of monthly events that will loosely resemble salons of days past. In case the only breed of salon you are familiar with contains blow dryers and gossipy women, read the following Wikipedia words:
A salon is a gathering of intellectual, social, political, and cultural elites under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation. These gatherings often consciously following Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate" ("aut delectare aut prodesse est").
Forget the 'elites' bit. This is an inclusive endeavor. And whether or not I am an inspiring hostess remains to be seen. Next week's group and future groups will be made up of a wonderfully diverse array of women. As of today, there will be at least one of each of the following "groups" in attendance on Tuesday: mothers, lawyers, teachers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, television execs, nutritionists, newspaper reporters, screenwriters, agents, writers, non-profit directors, models, social media mavens, bankers, brokers, and publicists. But most importantly? There will be people. Living and breathing people with eyes to look into and hands to shake.
This makes me happy.
This makes me happy because as much as I adore this online world (oh and I do), I've been craving conversation, long and lush and unwieldy conversation, conversation that cannot be edited, with flesh and blood people. This makes me happy because I think that when we become adults and marvelously mired in ceaseless personal, professional, and personal obligations, it becomes hard, so hard, to meet new people. There are only so many hours in the day.
Next week's soiree, like all future Happier Hour soirees, will have a topic, a focus, a thread. Next week's topic? Happiness. And I figured, go big or go home. If I was dreaming, I might as well dream. And so. I sat down and brainstormed speakers. Who would be the perfect guest of honor, someone who could come and speak and start a dialogue about happiness? I didn't have to think for too long. There was an obvious choice.
Gretchen Rubin. Blogger extraordinaire and author of #1 NYT Bestseller The Happiness Project, a book some of you might know I loved. I have met Gretchen a few times and she is lovely. Gretchen was kind enough to write a wonderful blurb for LIFE AFTER YES. So I reached out. I asked. And she said yes!
And so. I am pumped. Beyond pumped. I could not have taken this from dream to reality without the wisdom and support of three colleagues: My delightful publicist Sarah Burningham of Little Bird; and Kelly Hoey and Eunice Rho of the incomparable85 Broads. Without these women, these friends, I would still be flailing in a sea of abstraction, and stalled at the itty-bitty seed stage. (Thank you, guys. I can't wait for the inaugural glass-clinking a week from today.)
I announce this today not just to keep you abreast (that word always makes me giggle) of what's going on in my life, but because I want each and every one of you to be involved in this. I want your ideas. I want your questions. I want your suggestions. And I want to keep you in the loop, to tell you about the conversations that carry on here, in my physical world. I do not say 'real world' because that label is not the right one. My physical world and my blog world are both real, very real, to me.
Speaking of my blog world... Because I am not the type of person who can stop, I am already thinking ahead. Of a virtual version of Happier Hours, a way to congregate women (and men too!) around this country (and world! hey, why not?) to discuss big ideas (think: Happiness, Devotion, Commitment, Privilege, Parenthood, Balance, Forgiveness...). I have no idea what this digital diva will look like, but I know she will be pretty. She is still in the seed stage, but if history is any indication, she will grow. And beautifully. Stay tuned.
This? This is about dreaming aloud and together. This is about thinking big and boldly. This is about hurling practicality and prudence out the window. This is about fabulous and foolish daring.
This is about having good conversations.
This is about the happiness of our hours. This is about the happiness of our lives.
Oh, and wine.
- Do you agree that there is an intimate connection between hours (how we spend them, and with whom) and overall life happiness?
- Do you agree that it is much harder to meet new people once we get older and settled into patterns and rhythms of adulthood and responsibility?
- Do you have any specific thoughts on happiness or questions you would like me to ask Gretchen or the group?
- Do you agree that we can all stand to be happier? To have happier hours?
- Would you attend an event like this for the words or the wine? To be enlightened or amused?
- Do those of you who spend many hours online (blogging or reading blogs) have a hankering for a real world equivalent of the exchanges that go on here? How many of you will be here for BlogHer this summer?
- Would you be interested in hearing about, or taking part in, my future online incarnation of Happier Hours? If so, leave a comment indicating your interest and I will add you to a list of "virtual charter members" for this digital effort!