In 2009, Gretchen Rubin wrote The Happiness Project , a book about scientific research, test-driving age-old wisdom, and lessons from pop culture—all in the name of achieving more happiness. Since then, The Happiness Project has become an ecosystem of products, tools, and community, and Rubin has written five more books on the topic—all of them bestsellers. Her latest, Life in Five Senses , explores the way our senses affect our wellbeing. Rubin shares how her findings over the past 14 years apply to work, where it’s estimated we spend a third of our lives. 

Gretchen Rubin is the fifth guest for season 4 of Microsoft’s WorkLab podcast, in which hosts Elise Hu and Mary Melton have conversations with economists, technologists, and researchers who explore the data and insights into why and how work is changing. 

Three big takeaways from the conversation: 

  1. Happier people are more productive and less likely to suffer burnout. “They make better team members and better leaders. They’re more likely to help out. Somebody showing up for work who’s happier is going to do a better job,” Rubin says. “So whatever we can do to help each other to be happy is worth doing.”

  2. Rubin believes that strong relationships and self-knowledge are the two main keys to cultivating wellbeing. “Strong relationships matter so much at work. It’s that manager, but also, do you have a friend at work?” she says. Self-knowledge can be as simple as knowing whether you and your team are morning people or not. “Maybe we switch an 8 a.m. meeting to 11 a.m. If it’s possible to make changes to suit the people who are involved, we should seek to do so.”

  3. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving work wellbeing. What works for some may not work for others. It sounds obvious, Rubin says, but “that’s actually the most important thing to keep in mind. No tool works for every hand.”

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions. 

Follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s a transcript of the Episode 5 conversation.

MARY MELTON: This is WorkLab , the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host for today, Mary Melton. On WorkLab , we hear from leading thinkers on the future of work. Economists, technologists, researchers—they all share surprising data and explore the trends transforming the way we work.

GRETCHEN RUBIN: One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. If you’re feeling out of control, do good, feel good really works.