“Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing…Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time.”

–George Orwell, “Charles Dickens” in A Collection of Essays

This is one of my favorite essays by George Orwell, and that’s saying a lot.

I think about this quotation often, because I spend most of my time thinking about individual change. How steps can each of us take, in our own lives, to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative?

Which is not to say that I don’t think that the system should change — just that, for whatever reason, it’s the second question that interests me more.

How about you?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.


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