The Office finale: How I made this sad moment a happy one for my family

Gretchen Rubin felt nostalgic when the last episode of The Office was announced, but the writer of The Happiness Project knew better than to mope. She primed her family to enjoy the final episode together through these four stages. 

Associated Press/NBC
The Office finale might have been sad for some, but Gretchen Rubin set out to make it an enjoyable experience for her family. Pictured, the cast of "The Office," from left, Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly Halpert, Jake Lacy as Pete, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Ellie Kemper as Erin Hannon, right, in a scene from the series finale.

My daughters and I are huge fans of the TV show, The Office (the American version). We have the DVDs, we’ve watched every episode several times, and they get funnier each time.

Now, admittedly, you may question the wisdom of allowing an eight-year-old to watch the show. But I always watch with her, and I skip through the inappropriate parts.

One thing that my happiness project has taught me is that my own frame of mind can significantly boost (or diminish) the amount of happiness I get from something.

Therefore, one of my aims has been to boost my feelings of pleasant expectancy–to make little things into real events, so that I can look forward to them and revel in them, instead of letting them pass by only half-noticed. With a little mindfulness, I can often re-frame activities to help myself anticipate them more.

So when I read that the finale of The Office would air on May 16, I first thought, “Oh, too bad, the show is over.” Then I thought–wait! This is an opportunity to make a really fun night for me and my family.

As I write about in The Happiness Project, there are four stages for enjoying a happy event, and I tried to exploit each on this occasion:

– anticipation (for weeks, we talked about the fact that the retrospective and finale were going to air soon)
– savoring (enjoying it in the moment – no multi-tasking while watching!)
– expression (sharing your pleasure with others – we all watched together)
– reflection (looking back on happy times – I took photos as mementos, also emailed them to my parents and sister, which is another form of “expression”)

Framing the event in this way turned a minor event into a real happiness opportunity for my family. It was fun, it was easy, and it made a difference.

Have you found that you’re able to dial up the happiness you get from something, by framing it differently?

P.S. Because I’m such a huge fan of The Office, one of my favorite happiness interviews is with the brilliant Mindy Kaling, a/k/a Kelly Kapoor.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogs at

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