03/15/2018 15:38 EDT | Updated 03/15/2018 18:50 EDT

Gretchen Rubin's 1st Book Flopped, But Its Failure Helped Her Succeed

"I remember feeling so powerless."

Gretchen Rubin is a bestselling author whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide. So you would think that she has a knack for success, right? Well, it took a few lessons in failure to get to where she is today.

According to Rubin, the publishing industry thought her first book, Forty Ways To Look At JFK, didn't have an audience. "I had written this book that I was really proud of, and I wanted to do everything I could to tell people in the world about it, but I had no tools. I had no way of connecting with possible readers," Rubin says in the video above.

"The failure of that book made me realize that I needed to do something different. An invaluable lesson," she continued. And it was this failure that led The Four Tendencies author to finding other ways to grow her audience using tools such as Facebook Live and starting a blog.

But all of these technologies can lead to loneliness — a condition the Happier at Home author believes is one of the biggest obstacles to happiness. "To be happy we have to have enduring intimate bonds, we have to feel like we belong, we need to be able to confide, we need to be able to get support, and interestingly ... we need to be able to give support," she says in the video above.

Attending a friend's wedding or a college reunion or even joining a book club are steps people can take that could deepen or broaden a relationship, notes Rubin, who adds she and her family elevate their connection to one another by emailing each other "boring and mundane details" of their lives.

"Technology is a great servant but a bad master ... how can I use technology as a way to draw me to people, rather than filling up my time and distracting me from the fundamental values of the happy life?" Rubin said.

So, what is the secret to a happy life? "Two of my secrets of adulthood include enjoy the process, and focus on actions, not outcomes," The Happiness Project author says.

Part of this means taking on big risks or doing something challenging, and when the results aren't what you expected, Rubin says her first secret allows you to embrace risking the possibility of failure.

Her second secret means that some outcomes can't be controlled. "I can't sit down and write a bestseller, because I can't control whether something's a bestseller. I can't lose 20 pounds ... I can give up junk food," she says.

Rubin would rather focus on controlling our actions. "Think about [all the things we could do] that would help us reach that ending," she says.

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