Pickleball – My Happiness Project

I just finished reading the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and kept thinking about Pickleball throughout the chapters. My 23-year old daughter had this book, and suggested I borrow it for my travels to Spain this past summer. I am thinking that pickleball is my happiness project!

Here are my notes and quotes from the book and see how you can relate them to your Pickleball game.

Be Serious About Play

One way to feel good is to make time for play – which researchers define as an activity that’s very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn’t create social harm, and doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition. Research shows that regularly having fun is a key factor to having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy.

Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship and also brings about a 2 percent increase in life satisfaction.

We all know how much fun it is just being part of a pickleball group, and my guess the happiness from that is much more then 2 percent. Group membership makes people feel closer and brings a significant boost in personal confidence and happiness – my other guess is that you would agree!

Studies show that in a phenomenon called “emotional contagion,” we unconsciously catch emotions from other people – weather good moods or bad ones. Taking the time to be silly means that we’re infecting one another with good cheer, and people who enjoy silliness are one third more likely to be happy.

You know I love this one, being silly and having fun is right up my alley. In fact, just recently at Nationals I must say I was involved in a few shenanigans and pranks with my fellow competitors.

Go Off The Path – More good stuff here. “The eye must travel” see new pickleball places, venues or clubs, for many are in destination areas or unique and cozy hometowns – absorb the warmth of fellow pickleballers and let them show you around their town. More happiness!

Fun falls into three categories: challenging fun, accommodating fun and relaxing fun.

Challenging Fun

It is the most rewarding but also the most demanding. It can create frustration, anxiety, and hard work. It often revises errors. It takes time and energy. In the end, however, it pays off with the most satisfying fun. 

Accommodating Fun

Usually less challenging, but still requiring a fair bit of effort, is accommodating fun. A family trip to the playground is accommodating fun. Yes, it’s fun, but I’m really there because my children want to. Was it Jerry Seinfeld who said, “There’s no such thing as ‘Fun for the whole family’ ”?

Relaxing Fun

Relaxing fun is easy. I don’t have to hone skills or take action. There’s very little coordination with other people or preparation involved. Watching TV- the largest consumer of the world’s time after sleeping and work – is relaxing fun. 

Hey, you can watch pickleball on YouTube, right?

Research shows that challenging fun and accommodating fun, over the long term, bring more happiness, because they’re sources of the elements that make people happiest: strong personal bonds, mastery, and an atmosphere of growth. Although we get more out of challenging fun and accommodating fun, we must also put more into it. It takes energy and forethought!

Make Time For Friends (or Time To Meet New Friends)

New friends expand your world by providing an entrance to new interests, opportunities, and activities and can be an invaluable source of support and information – and, just as with happiness- including, you can play the same role for them.

Say you’re at your hometown courts and a brand new player arrives, a bit nervous and unsure, what do you do? Say hi! My circle of pickleball friends is always growing and now covers many countries, and it always starts with a hello.

Within ten minutes of meeting a new person, in fact, people decide what kind of relationship they want. Here is the author’s checklist for first encounters:

  • Smile more frequently
  • Actively invite others to join a conversation
  • Create a positive mood
  • Open a conversation
  • Try to look accessible and warm
  • Show a vulnerable side and laugh at yourself
  • Show a readiness to be pleased
  • Follow others’ conversational leads
  • Ask questions


For all of us that love our Pickleball, we already know the numerous health benefits that playing brings us – from getting our bodies moving, heart rate up, all the way to the social interactions and friendship…

Among other benefits, people who exercise are healthier, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. Regular exercise boots energy levels; although some people assume that working out is tiring, in fact, it boosts energy, especially in sedentary people – of whom there are many. A recent study showed that 25 precent of Americans don’t get any exercise at all. Just by exercising twenty minutes a day three days a week for six weeks, persistently tired people boosted their energy.

The Happiness Project Manifesto

  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • The days are long but the years are short.
  • You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
  • Your body matters.
  • Think about yourself so you can forget yourself.
  • What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you, and vice versa.
  • Best is good, better is best.
  • Loving actions inspire loving feelings.

And one of my favorites – There are no do overs!

I recommend this book, it is such a good read. I would love to hear about other book suggestions my pickleball friends out there have!

1 thought on “Pickleball – My Happiness Project”

  1. I read this a few years ago and I like your insight into this book with putting in the pickleball comparisons. I love my pickleball!

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