Layering Experiences to Achieve Peak Happiness


“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

–Gretchen Rubin

I agree with most of Gretchen Rubin’s happiness and habits advice, but not this particular concept. Maybe that’s just because I’m bad at doing things every day. As a hard-core Rebel, I find routines and daily responsibilities stifling and unhappy-making. But I enjoy certain amounts of consistency and routine in my life. Obviously, routine and novelty conflict, so I’ve spent some time thinking through the right balance. Here’s the framework that works for me.

But first, a caveat: Gretchen’s advice works very well for certain types of habits. Something relatively mundane, like flossing, you can likely add into your daily routine with relatively little psychological backlash. My issue is more with lifestyle changes meant to create more happiness.

Layered Experiences

At the base of Gretchen’s advice is the idea that you need certain actions to become automatic in order to form a habit. That’s true, and it’s good advice (especially in an area like exercise), but we can extract a major benefit without having to do the same things every day. For me, the benefit of repeating certain actions comes in the layering of the experience, not the streak of daily accomplishment.

What is layering experience?

For me (and perhaps you? perhaps everyone?), Continue reading

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