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  • feedwordpress 16:00:49 on 2022/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: , Blog Post, Ed Mylett, , , The Power of One More   

    Ed Mylett: “I Spend Very Little Time Dwelling About the Past.” 


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    Interview: Ed Mylett

    Ed Mylett is an entrepreneur, performance coach, author, and host of The Ed Mylett Show podcast. His new book, The Power of One More: The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Success (Amazon, Bookshop), is available now.

    I couldn't wait to talk to Ed about happiness, habits, and success

    Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

    Ed: I spend very little time dwelling about the past. We’re often weighed down by our past, and that can cripple what we want to do in the future. What’s done is done, and sometimes, the best you can do is catalog the event, learn from it, and use that knowledge to help you do better in the future.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    You don’t find true happiness in material possessions. You find true happiness by having close and loving relationships with your wife, children, pets, extended family members, friends, and most importantly, with God.

    You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?

    The beauty of what I do is that every day reveals itself in fascinating ways to me. I’m just as excited to talk to a health and wellness expert as I am talking to a music superstar or a pro athlete. I love hearing about interesting journeys that unlock new ways of doing things better, or how people have overcome adversity in their lives. The real payoff comes when I share it with my audience and they let me know how they’ve found value too.

    The bottom line…and this is not a cop-out…I mean it when I say everything surprises and intrigues me in one way or another.

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    I have been a bodybuilder for several years now. The great thing about this type of healthy habit is that it’s entirely internal. It’s you versus the resistance of lifting dead weight. The other thing is that it allows me to keep a promise to myself to keep going with this habit even when I don’t feel like lifting, or I’ve got some minor injuries that I deal with from time to time. That’s an important part of maintaining my confidence, to work through adversity which feeds my self-esteem into and carries over to several other parts of my life.

    Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?

    There are a few things that come to mind and they revolve around my health.

    While I enjoy my down and quiet time at home, the habits I’ve developed mean that I’m very intense and in the moment when I do work. If I go for long periods like this, I’ll empty my physical and my mental gas tank. Sometimes, but not always, I’ll catch a bug or just feel wiped out for a couple of days. My recovery time is shorter than for most people though because I do eat the right way and always add exercise into my life by playing golf, working out, or going for walks.

    The other thing I could probably be better is learning how to say “no” more often. Unfortunately for me, I’m intensely curious, and saying “no” stifles that need to know.

    As far as happiness goes, nothing interferes with my decision to be happy. I recognize that I’m leading a blessed life and so I’m filled with gratitude in everything I do. Gratitude is a form of happiness.

    Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

    I’ve had a few but the one that stands out for me was early in my career. I had been struggling for a while to find any kind of success, and I was not having any luck. One night when I was hosting a seminar, I expected 40 people based on RSVPs. Only eight people showed up. I was crushed and I went home and had a talk with myself. That night’s events had put me at a crossroads. After a lot of deep thought and prayers, I decided not to give and make a change in my career. I dug my heels in and said I was going all-in on this with everything I had. On the surface, I did not change, but deep down, I did.

    Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? Or a quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful?

    Absolutely! I continue to draw a lot of strength and inspiration from my favorite passage in the Bible, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

    Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

    The Bible. My faith is the cornerstone of my life.

    In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?

    There are a couple of things.

    The biggest thing I see is that many people think you must make huge changes in your life to get more success and happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth, which is exactly why I wrote The Power of One More. It’s based on the premise that you’re only one more try, emotion, relationship, or habit away from getting the life you deserve.

    The other thing is that I see many people who invest in all kinds of great material about being more successful or achieving peak performance. Some of them think that simply by reading or watching these materials, they’ll automatically reach their success goals.

    They completely miss the point that all we can do as teachers and mentors is give them a roadmap to a better life. It’s up to them to not only learn and think about a better life but to also jump into action and take the required steps. Action is the key.

    I would also, of course, shine a spotlight on anything that you’d particularly like to bring to readers’ attention.

    After my dad died a couple years ago, I was going through his personal items and I found a bunch of notecards each with just 2 letters and a single date on them. After a bit of investigative work, I discovered that they were the initials and the sobriety anniversary dates of dozens of people that my father helped to battle their struggle with alcohol. He often called these people to remind them of the power or staying sober for just “one more day.” That was the philosophy that he had used to transform him from being an alcoholic most of my childhood to then becoming my best friend and role model as he remained sober for 35 years.

    The “one more” philosophy was how he quit drinking. He tried “one more” time. And then he never committed to staying sober the rest of his life, but he did it by committing to do it for just “one more” day. God then used his own struggle and brokenness to bless the lives of others.

    I have applied that “one more” strategy to every part of my life and business. It’s helped me to accumulate millions of dollars and to also reach millions of people. So I recently wrote a book called The Power of One More where I teach how I’ve applied it to relationships, faith, money, success, health and many different aspects of my life. The book has already sold over 100k copies in the first few weeks and became a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. The book is dedicated to my father and a reminder to all of us about the transformative “Power of One More.”

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:00:07 on 2022/07/19 Permalink
    Tags: Blog Post, ,   

    From My Recent Trip to Paris: My 11 Secrets of Adulthood for Travel. 


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    One item on my "22 for 22" list is to "Take a trip with my daughter Eleanor." And we did it! We just returned from Paris, where we had a wonderful time.

    After going so long without traveling, I still feel a bit out of practice. Before and during this big trip, I found myself reflecting on some of my most useful Secrets of Adulthood for Travel:

    1. Always leave plenty of room in the suitcase.
    2. Don't let anyone get too hungry, too tired, too hot, or too cold.
    3. Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.
    4. Never pass up an opportunity to charge your phone.
    5. Wear comfortable shoes.
    6. Keep a stash of back-up snacks (see #2).
    7. Pack a canvas tote bag (we didn't end up needing this bag, but on other trips, I've found it invaluable).
    8. No matter what the weather is outside, dress warmly for the airplane.
    9. Make a plan, but leave room for spontaneity.
    10. If something's important, don't put it in a checked suitcase. (This reminder turned out to be very important; my bag took eight days to arrive in New York City.)
    11. Remember, it's supposed to be fun.

    If you'd like to read more Secrets of Adulthood, they're here.

    If you'd like more travel hacks, episode 180 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast is dedicated to listeners' hacks—so many great suggestions.

    What Secrets of Adulthood would you add to this list? I'm always looking for more ideas.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:34 on 2022/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , Blog Post, , Crying in the Bathroom, Erika L. Sanchez, , ,   

    Erika Sánchez: “I Realized…You Can’t Achieve Your Way Out of Trauma.” 


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    Interview: Erika Sánchez

    Erika Sánchez is a poet, novelist, and essayist. Her debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion (Amazon, Bookshop) was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her debut young-adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Amazon, Bookshop) is a New York Times bestseller, a National Book Awards finalist, and is currently being made into a Netflix film directed by America Ferrera. Her memoir, a collection of essays called Crying in the Bathroom (Amazon, Bookshop), just hit shelves.

    I've read both her novel and her memoir, and I couldn't wait to talk to Erika about happiness, habits, and mental health.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

    Erika: I have to take solitary walks to feel balanced. There’s a large park and river trail close to my house that I love. It’s a beautiful piece of nature in the city. I enjoy the trees, the birds, and the people, most of whom appear to be in a happy mood. Whenever I start to feel anxious or depressed, I make myself take a walk even if I don’t want to. By the end, I usually feel refreshed, and I have drawn some sort of conclusion or made a connection I didn’t expect. My imagination comes alive. My mind wanders in all directions because I’m present, which perhaps makes no sense to anyone but me.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    At that time, I thought that if I achieved enough success, my depression would magically disappear and that I would be happy for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until I had a mental breakdown after my first two books were published that I realized this wasn’t true. You can’t achieve your way out of trauma. At 18 I also hadn’t yet learned that I have a mental illness that requires medication. I now understand that I literally can’t experience happiness when my brain chemistry is not right. Thank you, science!

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    I don’t always particularly enjoy working out—it’s a love/hate relationship— but I force myself to do it because I know how relieved l will feel after the fact. My favorite form of exercising is running outdoors. I like to get fresh air and enjoy the scenery. There’s something very satisfying about exerting myself physically. I’ve also shifted my perspective on working out. I make myself move because it feels good, not to lose or maintain my weight. Even though I’m incredibly slow, I feel like I deserve a parade when I’m finished.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    I’m a Questioner!

    Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)

    Social media is a real pain in the butt for me. Part of me wants to delete it forever, but another part of me enjoys it and believes it’s now necessary to my career. Sometimes I scroll mindlessly, and I hate myself for it. Sometimes it becomes a compulsion, and it makes me feel very gross. I’m still trying to figure out my relationship to it. I don’t want it to take up too much space in my brain. I want to be present in the world.

    Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

    This happens a lot when I’m reading or taking a walk. A few months ago, I was at the park and realized that I carried my female ancestors with me. Their flesh is my flesh. I believe both my rage and talent come from them. I’m the first woman in my family to have the opportunity to determine my own life. I had been working through a lot generational trauma, and that fact stunned me. I cried it out and felt stronger for it.

    Is there a particular quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful?

    “I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. l claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.” –Toni Morrison

    Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

    Books change me all the time. One that comes to mind right now is When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (Amazon, Bookshop). I read it when I was recovering from a very severe bout of depression. It helped me reconnect with my Buddhist faith and find meaning in my suffering.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:01 on 2022/07/07 Permalink
    Tags: , Blog Post, Bookends, , , Zibby Owens   

    Zibby Owens: “Books Change My Life Every Day.” 


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    Interview: Zibby Owens

    Zibby Owens is the founder of Zibby Owens Media, which, among other things, includes a new publishing house for fiction and memoir. She's also the host of the award-winning podcast, Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books, and a regular columnist for Good Morning America. And if all that's not enough, she's also an editor and author—her new memoir, Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature (Amazon, Bookshop), just hit the shelves this week.

    I've known Zibby for many years. We first got to know each other through our deep love of reading and libraries.

    I couldn't wait to talk to Zibby about happiness, habits, and, of course, books.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

    Zibby: A habit that makes me more productive is active email management. Once a day, I stop replying to incoming messages and attack the backlog. (Okay, fine, maybe once a week.) When I do that, I dedicate at least two hours to it and sort the emails alphabetically rather than by date received. That way, I can go through one person’s emails at a time, delete unnecessary emails, and then really dig into the rest. I note the starting amount when I get discouraged about how many I have left, I start working my way up from the Z’s. Then I’ll flip back to working down from the A’s. If I don’t do this after two weeks max or when I get to 500 emails, I basically freak out.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    That I could be profoundly happy at my current weight. I think that would have horrified me then.

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    I’ve started eating a protein and veggie shake for breakfast every morning instead of my kids' leftover pancakes. It sets the day on a better path. (I love the chocolate flavor from Ka’Chava, a sponsor of my podcast that I have grown obsessed with.) I did it a few times in a row and realized it really did make me feel better. Now I miss it on the days I’m traveling or have run out.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    Obliger. 100%. After doing a recent event with Gretchen, I realized that each one of my four kids is a different temperament. It’s actually changed the way I parent in such a positive way!

    Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?

    My compulsion to manage my emails and not get behind on work. (See #1 above.) It throws a huge wrench in my determination to move more.

    Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?

    Don’t miss the plot. An old therapist told me that and it helps me every day.

    Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

    Books change my life every day. I do 365 podcasts a year, each one with a different author. I’ve learned such an enormous amount it’s crazy. I’m like in the school of life.

    In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?

    I’m in a lot of fields: podcasting, publishing, book-fluencing (is that a thing?!), parenting, being an author. A misconception is that you have to pick just one field!

     
  • feedwordpress 20:54:01 on 2022/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: Blog Post, challenges, ,   

    The Value of Lightness in Heavy Times. 


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    These days, many people are feeling overwhelmed, drained, and worried. And given everything that's happening, it can feel frivolous to worry about our own happiness.

    However, research shows that people who are happier are more interested in helping other people, and more interested in taking action in the world.

    So if it is selfish to worry about our own happiness, we should be selfish—if only for selfless reasons!

    One important element of happiness can be a feeling of lightness, of fun, of levity.

    Levity can include rest, calm, and activities help us feel recharged. Making time for levity doesn't mean we're ignoring serious issues, or neglecting our responsibilities; it allows us to gain energy and focus.

    For instance, a person might consider...

    • Spending time in nature
    • Reading a great book each night
    • Making fun plans with friends and family
    • Re-watching a favorite comedy series
    • Planning a weekly "Empower Hour"

    By making time to recharge when we can, we help build the resilience we need to weather crises and manage periods of uncertainty more effectively. In this way, we strengthen ourselves to be more helpful to others and our community—now, and in the days to come. It's that old cliche: you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you help others.

    Remember, what can happen at any time, often happens at no time. If something's important to you, it can help to put it on the calendar.

    What kind of levity do you want—or need—more of in your life?

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:35 on 2022/06/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , Blog Post, , , , , ,   

    What I Read This Month: June 2022 


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    For four years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

    I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

    As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

    This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

    When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

    If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

    You can also follow me on Goodreads where I track books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

    June 2022 Reading:

    Pure by Andrew Miller (Amazon, Bookshop)—A terrific novel that captures an interesting moment in history—the moving of the contents of the Les Innocents cemetery in eighteenth-century France.

    Sorrow and Bliss: A Novel by Meg Mason (Amazon, Bookshop)—Winner of the Book of the Year (Fiction) at the British Book Awards—an absorbing novel of a woman and her family.

    Artificial Conditions: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 2) by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—USA Today Bestseller—I rarely listen to audiobooks, but for the Murderbot Diaries, I tried the audiobooks, and really enjoyed the experience. I love the main character of these novellas.

    Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 3) by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—ditto

    Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 4)  by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—ditto

    The Absolute Book: A Novel by Elizabeth Knox (Amazon, Bookshop)—Several people told me to read this book. It reminded me a little of Little, Big: Or, The Fairies' Parliament by John Crowley.

    Becoming a Gardener: What Reading and Digging Taught Me About Living by Katie Marron (Amazon, Bookshop)—I have no desire to garden but I love books about gardening. This meditative memoir looks at the power of gardening, with gorgeous illustrations.

    A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch (Amazon, Bookshop)—I'm on a Murdoch kick. They're always worth reading, though this wasn't one of my favorites.

    Also A Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me by Ada Calhoun (Amazon, Bookshop)—A fascinating memoir about a complex father-daughter relationship...plus Frank O'Hara.

    The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison (Amazon, Bookshop)—I couldn't wait to read the next book in the Cemeteries of Amalo series.

    The Reason I Jump by Naomi Higashida (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times bestseller—an interesting memoir from an unusual perspective (after reading it, I learned that there's some controversy about this book).

    The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder (Amazon, Bookshop)—Winner of the Pulitzer Prize—a short and thought-provoking story about life and fate.

    The Great Passion by James Runcie (Amazon, Bookshop)—A historical novel with a compelling narrator—a thirteen-year-old who finds himself in Bach's circle.

    Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir by Delia Ephron (Amazon, Bookshop)—A "Best Memoir of 2022" by Marie Claire, A "Best Memoir of April" by Vanity Fair—Romance, marriage, aging, New York City, bone-marrow transplant, sisters...a terrific memoir.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:12 on 2022/06/21 Permalink
    Tags: Blog Post   

    Design Your Summer with the Happier App 


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    Toward the end of a summer, do you ever wish you’d done more with the season? “Designing your summer” is about taking advantage of the season and making it distinctive. Life feels richer and more memorable when each season of the year feels special in some way.

    This idea comes from a quote by the writer Robertson Davies, who says:

    Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer. —“Three Worlds, Three Summers,” The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies

    For many of us, summer means good weather and more hours of sunlight, less structured schedules, time off from school or work. These weeks and months present an opportunity to break out of our normal routines and have adventures (whatever that means for us). 

    Planning ways to make your summer stand out doesn’t require taking a vacation or scheduling something expensive. You might make a list of places to visit, choose a theme for the season, make a summer reading list, or aim to spend more time outside.

    One useful way to think about this is to ask yourself: What do I want to do more of this summer? What do I want to do less of? 

    However you choose to design your summer, the Happier™ app offers tools that can help.

    • Use the Don’t Break the Chain tool to check off every day you take a walk
    • Use the Numbers Tracker tool to track how many hours you spend outside
    • Use the Photo Log tool to document your adventures
    • Record a highlight of each day with the One-Sentence Journal tool
    • Check in every day you read with the Accountability Partners tool

    Your aims might be:

    • Visit a certain number of parks
    • Spend a certain number of hours outside
    • Check off a summer reading list
    • Enjoy local summer produce
    • Block out time for a creative project or hobby—and aim to finish a project by summer's end
    • Ask your kids for a highlight of the day each evening
    • Make progress on tasks around your home
    • Train for a race
    • Plan and save for a trip or vacation

    Summer can also present potential pitfalls and loopholes for maintaining good habits. Our schedules might change, we might go on vacation, our priorities for how we spend our time might change, we may be faced with temptation.

    One trick to stay on track? Decide ahead of time which habits you’d like to maintain, which you want to modify, and which you want to take a break from—and if you’re taking a break, be sure to give yourself a return date.

    You can also make planned exceptions. With a planned exception, you decide in advance to permit yourself an exception to your usual habit. To work effectively, this exception needs to be planned ahead of time and limited in scope.

    The Happier app will feature tips, prompts, and ideas for designing your summer all season long. If you don’t already have the app, you can try it for free by tracking a single aim, or subscribe to track multiple aims.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:05 on 2022/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: Blog Post, , Finding Ecohappiness, , , Sandi Schwartz   

    Sandi Schwartz: “Nature Stimulates Creativity.” 


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    Interview: Sandi Schwartz

    Sandi Schwartz is the founder and director of the Ecohappiness Project, and an author and journalist who specializes in parenting, environmental, and wellness topics.

    I couldn't wait to talk to Sandi about happiness, habits, and her new book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer (Amazon, Bookshop).

    Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

    Sandi: I treasure my morning walks, whether they are in my neighborhood, at a local park, or during the summer along the beach. Listening to the birds chirping, breathing in the fresh air, and mindfully viewing the colorful nature around me is my daily meditation. Getting this exercise and meditative time in kickstarts my day so I can clear my head. As a writer, I often come up with ideas for blog posts, articles, and other projects during my walks since nature stimulates creativity.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    The most fascinating aspect of happiness to me is that we each have our own baseline, and even when we have an amazing thing happen and we get a boost of happiness, we end up back at that set point. Genetics influence 50 percent of our happiness, while our life circumstances control 10 percent. That leaves us with 40 percent to take our own action to try to feel happier. Knowing this helped me understand my own personality and happiness level to accept what my baseline is and to recognize what I have some control over to change how I feel.

    You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?

    Everyone is always fascinated to learn that we can benefit from nature connection even through a screen or virtual reality. Scientists are closely studying this concept and are finding that simulated nature can have medicinal effects, although not as effective as being immersed in nature. In an analysis of over thirty studies that reviewed the effects of spending time in nature versus urban environments, researchers found that being exposed to nature led to people feeling happier whether they were outdoors or viewing nature on a screen. They also discovered that simulated environments with realistic images of nature, such as interactive VR, led to greater psychological benefits than less immersive choices like photographs.

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    One of the most important habits that I am trying very hard to keep is writing in my brief evening journal. I write five bullet points: the most important aspect of my day, something social I did to connect with others, and three pieces of gratitude. I find that keeping this daily habit helps me feel more balanced and my emotions in check. My biggest challenge from the pandemic was getting way too comfortable being at home, so my goal these days is to try and be more social. Tracking this in my journal helps keep me on track.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger

    I am a Questioner; no surprise there. I am very self-motivated and tend to do what I want on a daily basis, minus my commitments to my husband, children, and work clients. I definitely wake up every day and think, “What needs to get done today, and why?” I am constantly updating my daily to-do lists and personal goals. I am also thirsty for knowledge and love asking questions and doing research to find the answers. I also resist doing anything that seems to lack purpose. Additionally, I am an INFJ and have a huge need and passion to change the world, which is evident by my focus on environmentalism and exploring how nature can improve well-being. If I am not living my purpose, I begin to struggle emotionally. I crave new challenges and goals.

    Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)

    I am a homebody and most effective in meeting my goals and sticking to my habits when I am at home with my routine. Therefore, anything that knocks me off my game, like travel or stressful situations, interferes with my ability to keep my healthy habits that improve my happiness.

    Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?

    My husband taught me a very helpful phrase that I turn to often when my anxiety is acting up: “This too shall pass.” I find this quote very soothing, as it helps me shift my focus from the stressful situation that is freaking me out to realize that I have faced many similar challenges and was so upset, but time marched on and they are now distant memories. If we can master this type of shift in our thought process, then we can have more control over our strong emotions like anxiety.

    Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

    Many books have changed my life. I truly believe that books come into my life when I need them. I might just happen to see a book at the library or in a bookstore, or maybe a friend or someone in a Facebook group posts a recommendation. It’s as if the book calls out my name. Some examples include The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (Amazon, Bookshop), Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh (Amazon, Bookshop); Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen (Amazon, Bookshop); and Gretchen’s book, The Happiness Project, which changed the trajectory of my career path to focus on positive psychology and ultimately the intersection of nature and mental health. [Gretchen: That's so wonderful to hear!]

    I also believe that authors write the books they need the most, and that’s what happened with me and my book, Finding Ecohappiness (Amazon, Bookshop).

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:19 on 2022/06/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , Blog Post, , , , , ,   

    What I Read This Month: May 2022 


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    For four years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

    I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

    As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

    This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

    When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

    If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

    You can also follow me on Goodreads where I track books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

    May 2022 Reading:

    Smile: The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl (Amazon, Bookshop)—I love the work of Sarah Ruhl (see below), so couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of this memoir about her experiences with Bell's palsy, a high-risk pregnancy, play-writing

    Parson's Nine by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)—On a recent episode of More Happier, I talked about how happy I was to discover Streatfeild's adult fiction. I loved this novel.

    Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D. (Amazon, Bookshop)—A fascinating memoir about how studying the interactions of gorillas offered a lifeline to the author.

    In the Early Times: A Life Reframed by Tad Friend (Amazon, Bookshop)—A thought-provoking, honest, revealing memoir about family and marriage.

    Signal Fires: A Novel by Dani Shapiro (Amazon, Bookshop)—A gripping novel that I finished in one day. I keep thinking about the characters.

    The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen (Amazon, Bookshop)—Haunting. A fascinating portrait of a person and a time.

    The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Amazon, Bookshop)—we'll be talking to the authors in upcoming episode 381 of the Happier podcast, for the Happier Podcast Book Club. Such a delightful book. Behind-the-scenes at the iconic TV comedy The Office, stories of best friendship, Hollywood stories, and more.

    Mothering Sunday by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)—more Noel Streatfeild!

    Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor—a thought-provoking family memoir that was both funny and somber. (Side note: much of it took place in Kansas City, which made me feel a personal connection.)

    The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith (Amazon, Bookshop)—A great novel about romance, grief, family, music—all set on an Alaskan cruise ship.

    Ties by Domenico Starnone (Amazon, Bookshop)—2015 Bridge Prize for Best Novel, Sunday Times and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, Strega Award—the story of a marriage told with an unusual and effective structure. (Side note for Elena Ferrante fans: some argue that Starnone is her husband and that this novel is "in dialogue with" her novel The Days of Abandonment.)

    To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines by Judith Newman (Amazon, Bookshop)—a fascinating memoir about a family, about autism, and about technology.

    Letters from Max: A Poet, a Teacher, a Friendship by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo (Amazon, Bookshop)—Kirkus Best Book of 2018—see above—I loved this collection of letters exchanged between Sarah Ruhl and her student, colleague, and friend Max Ritvo before his early death from cancer.

    The Aosawa Murders by Rick Onda (Amazon, Bookshop)—A gripping story about a crime and the mystery of who committed it, and why.

    In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times Bestseller—A beautiful, thought-provoking memoir about love and death.

    The Book of Boundaries by Melissa Urban (Amazon, Bookshop)—in galley! A practical, helpful book that's also hilarious and a real page-turner, on the question of how to create healthy boundaries.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:20:04 on 2022/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: , Blog Post, , In the Early Times, , Tad Friend   

    Tad Friend: “Happiness Comes from Immersion—in a Job, an Art Form, a Challenge, a Relationship.” 


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    Interview: Tad Friend

    Tad Friend is a staff writer at the New Yorker, and previously was a contributing editor at Esquire and Outside. He is the author of a memoir, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor (Amazon, Bookshop), and Lost in Mongolia: Travels in Hollywood and Other Foreign Lands (Amazon, Bookshop), a collection of his articles. His latest memoir, In the Early Times: A Life Reframed (Amazon, Bookshop), hit shelves this month.

    I couldn't wait to talk to Tad about happiness, habits, and relationships.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

    Tad: Drinking way too much coffee. Fight me! But I’ll win because I’m teeming with caffeination.

    Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

    Let us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (Amazon, Bookshop). I read Agee’s account of three Alabama tenant farming families struggling through the Great Depression when I was in college, and the book was a revelation. No one had thought tenant farmers worthy of much attention, but Agee made me care deeply about every aspect of their lives. His work made me realize that nothing is anything until a writer makes it something. And that it’s possible to report so thoroughly and write so passionately and empathetically that nonfiction rises to the level of art.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Happiness comes from immersion—in a job, an art form, a challenge, a relationship. But while you’re immersed it doesn’t even occur to you to assess your emotional state. Only later do you realize, “Oh, I was happy then.” The challenge of life is that it’s lived forward but understood backward.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    I’ve long been an Upholder with Questioner tendencies. I wanted to do the thing that people expect of me, but I also wanted to make sure that doing it made sense, and that I’d be rewarded. However, I’ve recently discovered that if someone I love really wants something, that alone is reason enough to do it, no questions asked, no reciprocity demanded. Reciprocity comes unsought, as selflessness turns out to be contagious.

    Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? 

    Rampant procrastination. I catch up on “Atlanta” or do the Spelling Bee instead of just tacking the onerous thing and rewarding myself later with a pop-culture treat. Using Pomodoro helps: I set the timer for 25 minutes and go, knowing that I’ll soon have 5 minutes to refill my coffee mug.

    Multitasking is another bad habit. Multitasking is actually just rapid focus switching, so I keep losing all the clarity and momentum that attends sustained attention. On the other hand, I have become quite adept at doing a crappy job on three things at once.

    Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

    Yes, I stopped being unfaithful. My wife discovered my infidelities, and I so hated the monstrous me that I saw reflected in her eyes, and was so grateful to her for being willing to work this very thorny issue through together, that I reversed course, hard, overnight. Without her willingness to give me a second chance—if, and only if, I became an actual, you know, husband and partner—I would have remained lost. Amanda is not only my true love, she’s my hero. I write about all this in In the Early Times.

    Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?

    “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” It’s from Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography (Amazon, Bookshop), where he attributes it to someone else. I heard the maxim from a squash coach, and it absolutely applies to squash, to keeping your focus and playing within yourself when you feel outmatched. But it also struck me as a great motto for daily life. It’s both a recognition of imperfections and a summons to get the most out of your imperfect vehicle, nonetheless.

    If I had to pick a second quotation, it would be from Sigmund Freud: “Life, as we find it, is too hard for us.” It sounds glum, but once you realize, well, ok, life is too much for everyone, it’s actually curiously freeing. You’re going to lose eventually, so why not fight a strong rearguard action? And that fight, for me, is embodied by “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

     
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