Gretchen Rubin on Actually Understanding Yourself

Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, ends the book with this phrase: “the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.” Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project was that kind of book for me. One passage in particular really hit home, and I wanted to share it:

“I have an idea of who I wish I were, and that obscures my understanding of who I actually am. Sometimes I pretend even to myself to enjoy activities that I don’t really enjoy, such as shopping, or to be interested in subjects that don’t much interest me, such as foreign policy. And worse, I ignore my true desires and interests.
‘Fake it till you feel it’ was an effective way to change my mood in the moment, as I followed my Third Commandment to ‘Act the way I want to feel,’ but it isn’t a good governing principle for major life decisions. By ‘faking it,’ I could become engaged in subjects and activities that didn’t particularly interest me, but that enthusiasm paled in comparison to the passion I felt for the subjects in which I naturally found myself interested.”