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  • gretchenrubin 16:06:02 on 2017/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: career, , , , , ,   

    Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. 

    Update: I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 34 days. So close, and yet so far!

    Elizabeth and I are considering planning a meet-up with listeners and readers on Sunday, September 17, around 6:00 p.m. Would you be interested in coming? What would be a good neighborhood or spot? Weigh in on the Better app, under Events — that makes it much easier to coordinate responses. We’re trying to figure out if this would be a good idea. If you’re already a member of the app, click here to go directly to the event to RSVP.

    Pre-orders give a big boost to a book, so to thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

    Try This at Home: Remember that September is the other January. In my book Happier at Home, I describe my happiness project that stretched from September to May — a school year, which is another kind of year for me.

    September, for many people, marks a fresh start and a new beginning, so it’s good to think about changes to make with this clean slate.

    Elizabeth vows to start grilling — not expecting Adam to grill, but to grill herself. I’m planning to start “Weekly Adventures” with Eleanor.

    In my book Better Than Before, I talk about using the “Strategy of the Clean Slate” as a way to harness new beginnings to help yourself make important changes. The clean slate is a powerful catalyst for me.

    1pix

    Happiness Hack: I love an office-supplies hack! Elizabeth ordered personalized post-it notes — easy, inexpensive, and seem special — specifically for “Happier in Hollywood” for her and Sarah to use. She ordered hers from Zazzle.com. Post a photo of your personalized post-it notes on #happier2017 on Instagram, and tag us @lizcraft and @gretchenrubin.

    Happiness Stumbling Block: What will “they” think?

    Here’s the video I mention, of the twelve-minute talk that I gave about drift, and here’s the quiz “Are you drifting?

    Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m a dedicated hair twister, and I’ve been twisting my hair more than usual.

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s young son Jack participated enthusiastically on a hike. Elizabeth’s fantasy is to do family hikes on the weekend — so now her fantasy self and real self are colliding, thanks to Jack.


    Free Resources:

    1. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.
    2.  Want to join my group of Super-Fans? From time to time, I’ll offer you a little bonus, or ask for a small favor (nothing onerous, I promise). Sign up here. Super-Fans, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    As I mentioned above, I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

    Also check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

    Visit Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 15% off your first Framebridge order.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:37:20 on 2017/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: career, , , , , ,   

    Do You Face These Common Problems in Happiness and Habits? Here’s Your Answer! 

    For years, I’ve been reading, writing, and talking to people about their happiness and good habits. My preoccupation is: how can we make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative?

    The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better Than Before, and now The Four Tendencies — all, in their own way, address this fundamental question.

    And as I’ve talked to people, certain challenges keep coming up, over and over.

    For years, I was so puzzled by them, I couldn’t stop thinking about them and trying to figure out the answers. Perhaps some sound familiar to you:

    • People can rely on me, so why can’t I rely on myself?
    • Why do people tell me that I ask too many questions?
    • How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask?
    • Why do people just do whatever they’re told to do, like lemmings, without demanding good reasons?
    • Why can’t I make myself do anything?
    • Why won’t you change what you’re doing, after I’ve explained the serious consequences of failing to change?
    • Why do people keep telling me I’m uptight?
    • Why do I have writer’s block?
    • How can I deal with someone who keeps telling me what to do?
    • How can I stop my teenager from dropping out of school?
    • How can my team become more effective, with less wasted time and conflict?
    • Why is everything an argument with my child?
    • I’m deeply committed to doing this thing (working on a novel, exercising regularly), so why can’t I do it?
    • Why can’t other people just get their own s!$* done?
    • Why can’t I convince my patients to take their prescriptions?
    • Why does my mother keep emailing me articles?
    • My child is so smart and does well on tests, so why does he refuse to do his homework?
    • How can I help my spouse to lose weight? To exercise?
    • Why can’t I start my side hustle?
    • Why am I always the one asked to pick up the extra work around here?
    • Why is it taking me so long to make this decision?
    • Why can’t my sweetheart be more spontaneous?
    • Why does this person refuse to answer my questions?
    • Why do my co-workers refuse to act with common courtesy — how hard is it to put your mug in the office dishwasher?
    • Why can’t I keep my promises to myself?
    • Why does this employee keep challenging every decision I make?
    • My spouse will do anything to help a client, so why can’t I get any help?

    Why You Act, Why You Don’t

    Perhaps it seems unlikely, but it’s true — the Four Tendencies framework sheds light on all these questions.

    With every single one of these questions, I have an answer that I think can help, using the Four Tendencies.

    To take just one example, I received this email about a teacher who used her knowledge of the Four Tendencies to change her way of working with a Rebel — in a way that allowed that Rebel to succeed:

    I’m a teacher at our local county jail, mostly GED and high school diploma courses. Recently I had a student who was getting in her own way—arguing with the guards and not completing assignments. I believed her when she said that she really wanted to get her GED—yet she wasn’t making progress.

    It dawned on me that she is a Rebel. I shared your theory with her, and it really helped her see herself in a new, more positive way. I stopped asking her to do homework and let her decide each day how she wanted to study: computer software, group lesson, independently, or not at all. As I write this, she has passed five of the five tests, and thus completed her high school equivalency.

    When you know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you understand yourself much better — why you act, why you don’t act, why you feel the way you do.

    And as the example above demonstrates, when you understand other people’s Tendencies, you gain great perspective on why they act, why they don’t act, and why they feel the way they do.

    To a degree that astonishes me, simple tweaks in language and circumstances can allow people to do a much better job in dealing with themselves and others.

    I certainly use the Tendencies myself. I’m married to a Questioner, and I’ve learned that I always need to explain the reason if I want him to do something. Even just yesterday. I was filling out a tiresome form that asked for his work address. I called him and asked, “What’s your work address?” He answered, “Why ?”

    Now, if he’d asked me a similar question, I would’ve just answered. I wouldn’t ask why. But my husband wasn’t going to meet even the smallest expectation — tell me your work address — without knowing why.

    That used to bug me. Why wouldn’t he just do what I asked? Why did he slow down the process? Now I don’t get annoyed with him, because I understand his nature.

    Managing yourself, and others, is much easier when you know what to do — and why.

     

    Want to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quick Quiz here.

    Want to learn more about the framework? Order my book The Four Tendencies. All is revealed!

    Want to talk about the Four Tendencies with other people? Join the discussion on my free Better app.

     

    The post Do You Face These Common Problems in Happiness and Habits? Here’s Your Answer! appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:00:02 on 2017/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , career, , , ,   

    A Little Happier: More Advice about How to Be Successful–Check Every Box. 

    Last week, I talked about some excellent advice I got very indirectly — from my law-school roommate’s ex-boyfriend. You never know where good advice will come from.

    Here’s something else he told me: Try to check every box. If you want a job or a position, make yourself the easy, non-controversial, inevitable choice by meeting every criteria possible.

    This advice sounds rather obvious, but I’ve been surprised by how often it has come in handy.

    This mini-episode is brought to you by The Happiness Project — my #1 New York Times bestselling book that stayed on the list for two years. Intrigued? Read a sample chapter here, on “Boost Energy.”

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: More Advice about How to Be Successful–Check Every Box. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 15:11:29 on 2017/03/15 Permalink
    Tags: Before Sunrise, , career, , , , , movie, , , , , shower, , , , ,   

    Podcast 108: Use Your Shower as a “Happiness Booth,” Use Your Smart-Phone as a Magnifier, and a Question from the Movie “Before Sunrise.” 

    Happier with Gretchen Rubin

    It’s time for the next installment of Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    Update: Along with her writing partner Sarah Fain, Elizabeth is busy getting ready to launch her new podcast Happier in Hollywood. And by the way, if you love listening to podcasts, this is the month of “#Trypod,” when we’re all helping people discover new podcasts or help show them how to listen to podcasts. So encourage people to #Trypod.

    Try This at Home: We got this idea from our listener Rebecca: Use your shower as a “happiness booth.”

    If you want to hear our interview with Rosanne Cash in episode 22, and hear a clip from “When the Master Calls the Roll,” listen here.

    Happiness Hack: You can use the camera on your smart-phone as a magnifying glass. Who knew?

    Know Yourself Better: Inspired by the 1995 movie Before Sunrise, we discuss the question: Do you feel more like Celine, who feels like an old woman looking back on her life, or more like Jesse, who feels like a kid pretending to be a grown-up?

    If you’re interested in this idea of “anticipatory nostalgia,” I talk about it at the conclusion of my book Happier at Home.

    Here’s my one-minute video, The Years Are Short.

    Listener Question: Our listener Cindy likes to go for a walk by herself during lunch, but now her boss wants to join her. How does she maintain her solo walk?

    Demerit: Elizabeth has the habit of falling asleep when she’s putting Jack to bed at night, taking a nap, and then staying up for another few hours.

    Gold Star: I give gold star to our mother and father related to signing up for exercise training sessions.

     

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

    And check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 108: Use Your Shower as a “Happiness Booth,” Use Your Smart-Phone as a Magnifier, and a Question from the Movie “Before Sunrise.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:30:25 on 2017/02/16 Permalink
    Tags: , career, , , lesiure, meetings, , Tiffany Dufu, , ,   

    “I Have My Four ‘Go-To’ Habits: Go to the Gym, Go to Lunch, Go to Events, Go to Sleep.” 

    Interview: Tiffany Dufu.

    Tiffany Dufu is the chief leadership officer to Levo, a fast-growing network for millennial women, and is involved with many endeavors related to making the world a better place. Her new book just hit the shelves, and with a title like that, I knew I couldn’t wait to check it out. How could I resist Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less? It’s a memoir and manifesto about “the ability to let go.”

    I was eager to hear what Tiffany had to say about happiness, habits, achievement, and all the rest.

    You can also join our Facebook Live conversation on March 3 on my Facebook page. Details about how to watch are here.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?

    Tiffany: Dancing to pop music all by myself in my bedroom.

    In my head I’m in a music video. I used to do this when I was a little girl and I remember thinking that I never wanted to grow up because I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. But I still do…every night. The only difference is that I used to blast Janet Jackson and now it’s Beyonce.

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

    That the healthy part is forgiving yourself when you break them.

    Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    There is a chair in my bedroom where I habitually throw clothes after I take them off or when they come out of the dryer. I haven’t sat in the chair since I nursed my daughter in it when she was an infant. She’s seven. Every time I look at the pile of clothes (you can’t actually see the chair anymore) I’m unhappy.

    Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

    In Drop the Ball I write about my four Go To’s – habits that have helped me to flourish at work and in life. They include going to the gym (building my stamina), going to lunch (building my network), going to events (building my visibility) and going to sleep (building my renewal).

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

    I used to get about eight hours of sleep a night. It wasn’t enough, but I felt sleep deprivation was par for the course for every working mother. In order to get more sleep, I basically had to get more office work done while I was still at the office so that I wasn’t up late at night checking off professional to-dos along with the personal ones.

    I implemented three strategies to make it happen. The first was using a device to limit the time I spent at work in ad hoc conversations that were presented as “Hey do you have five minutes?” but would turn into thirty. Whenever someone would stop by my desk I’d confirm how much time they needed and I’d set the timer. You’d be surprised how quickly people can get to the point when the clock is ticking! The second strategy was to schedule meetings for 30 or 45 minutes instead of defaulting to an hour. The third was to ask in person or over the telephone, whenever someone sent me an email meeting calendar invite, “Are you sure you need me in this meeting?” Seventy percent of the time people would rescind their invitation and give me back the time. So often people send calendar invites without being thoughtful about which stakeholders need to be in meetings to achieve results. Unless I’m working on something major, I get eight hours of sleep now each night. And I’m much happier.

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

    Only an Upholder would need to write a book called Drop the Ball.

    [Actually, Tiffany, that is much truer of an Obliger!]

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

    Yes, my desire to delight my family. For example, I really should steer clear of gluten, but my family loves my buttermilk biscuits. Also, the morning is the best time for me to go to the gym, but on the weekends my family likes to snuggle on the couch and watch Star Wars Rebels. Resistance is futile.

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

    Yes! A few years ago I was watching a Levo interview with Rory Vaden, author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success. Through his interviews with successful leaders he had discovered that all of them have one thing in common: they’ve formed the habit of doing things they know they should be doing, even if they don’t feel like doing it. Our Levo offices were on the fourth floor and I always took the elevator. In fact, I didn’t even know where the stairwell was. That night, inspired by Rory’s video, I found the stairs, and I never went back to taking the elevator up or down.

    Do you embrace habits or resist them?

    Embrace. They’ve helped me to drop the ball on unrealistic expectations of myself. I can always go back and trace my progress. They make me proud of myself.

    Has another person ever had a big influence on your habits?

    My father. He’s a ritualist. He eats Kellogg’s Raisin Bran every morning. He reads “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” every Martin Luther King Day. He’s never lost a set of keys.

    The post “I Have My Four ‘Go-To’ Habits: Go to the Gym, Go to Lunch, Go to Events, Go to Sleep.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:08:55 on 2017/02/15 Permalink
    Tags: , career, , , Current Affairs, , , , , ,   

    Podcast 104: Have a “Life Story Conversation,” Ideas for Travel Beasts, and Dealing with the Emotional Toll of the News. 

    It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    We’re coming up on our second anniversary of the show! To celebrate, we want to do an episode of highlihts from the previous year. So if you have a favorite try-this-at-home, a great before-and-after story of something you tried, a favorite funny moment, let us know. Email us at podcast@gretchenrubin.com or call 77-HAPPY-336.

    Try This at Home: Have a “life story conversation.” If you want to listen to the episode of The Onward Project podcast Radical Candor where they discuss this idea, check out episode 5.

    Happiness Hack: Mary suggests, “When clothes are in bad shape, so that I can’t give them away, I pack them, and wear them one last time on the trip, and then leave them behind.” This is an especially great tip for under-buyers.

    Happiness Stumbling Block: The news. So many people have emailed and called to say, “How do I manage the emotional toll of the news?” It’s a big question.

    Elizabeth mentions Sarah’s Facebook group: #OurFirst100Days.

    Demerit: Elizabeth’s battle with the game Candy Crush continues. Have you tried unsuccessfully to delete a soul-destroying app?

    Gold Star: How I love the New York City subway system, especially the new stops on the Q line.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

    Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 104: Have a “Life Story Conversation,” Ideas for Travel Beasts, and Dealing with the Emotional Toll of the News. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 23:43:03 on 2017/02/03 Permalink
    Tags: , career, , , , , , , , ,   

    How Agatha Christie’s “Kittens” Game Helped Prepare Her to Write Her Famous Mysteries. 

    When people ask about career change, or also, how to get more fun in life, I often find myself telling people: “What you did as a child is probably something you’d enjoy as an adult, for work and for play.”

    I’m fascinated by how a person’s play as a child can prefigure their adult life. For instance, a friend who played with her three dollhouses well into her teens is now an interior designer.

    I was reminded of this when I read Agatha Christie’s fascinating Autobiography.

    In recalling her childhood days, Christie noted of her nurse that “Perhaps because she was an old woman and rheumatic, my games were played around and beside, but not wholly with, Nursie. They were all make-believe.”

    Christie would sit near her nurse,  and play games with “The Kittens.”

    “Nursie was too wise ever to talk to me about them, or to try to join in the murmurings of conversation going on round her feet. Probably she was thankful that I could amuse myself so easily.”

    Many years later, while Christie was recovering from the flu, her mother suggested that she might try writing a story.

    Christie got the idea to write a detective story when she was working in a medical dispensary. She started to think about how the murder would be committed, and by whom, and why.

    As the story started to take shape, she began to form her characters, and then, she recounts, “I took all three [characters] off the tram with me to work upon–and walked up Barton Road muttering to myself just as in the days of the Kittens.”

    Much later in the book, reflecting on the process of writing, she says, “Oh well, I suppose it is just the same as when I was four years old talking to the kittens. I am still talking to the kittens, in fact.”

    For me, this story has three lessons:

    1. We never know what’s a “waste of time,” for ourselves or for other people.
    2. What we did as a child is probably something we’d enjoy as an adult, for work or play.
    3. People do best what comes naturally.

    Do you agree with some or all of these conclusions?

    The post How Agatha Christie’s “Kittens” Game Helped Prepare Her to Write Her Famous Mysteries. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:48:34 on 2017/01/12 Permalink
    Tags: career, CrossFit, , , , , ,   

    “I Really Dislike Traveling for Work…How Easily Travel Destroys What Makes Me Happy.” 

    Interview: Russ Laraway.

    I’m thrilled that the Radical Candor podcast is one of the terrific new podcasts launching on The Onward Project, the family of podcasts about your life, made better brought to you by me (!). The Radical Candor podcast is about being a better boss, a better colleague, a better team member. Something that many of us aim for.

    Russ has tackled many work environments: Company Commander in the Marines; launching his own company; Google; Twitter; and co-founder of Candor.

    I was very intrigued to hear what Russ had to say about habits, happiness, health, productivity, and all the rest.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?

    Russ: I have two.  First, I am committed to not allowing my career to interfere with being a good dad.  The easiest way to make this real is to prioritize my family, which means getting home at a normal hour to spend time with them.  I am maniacally disciplined about getting out of the office on time.  If there’s something happening that requires a late night, I’m there, but I’ve found that to be such a rare case.  This means dealing with and managing perceptions about “how hard you work.” I actually work very hard, but I reject that being present in an office for 12 hours a day is a good manifestation of that.  BUT so many people lazily ascribe your work ethic to your time in the office, that I end up battling perception.

    Second, I work out nearly every day.  I carefully put my workout time to coincide with my normal afternoon energy lull.  Working out is a great way to relieve stress, but also a great renewal practice.  I often feel like a new guy and can fire my brain back up in the evening and be more productive than if I never worked out.

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

    When you’re 18, or young in your career, you don’t really understand what prioritizing means or more precisely, you don’t really know how to do it.  You think that “Work Life Balance” is impossible or for lazy people.  My happiness is a direct function of my ability to prioritize what really matters: my health, my family, my work, the Philadelphia Eagles in that order.  At 18 you say the word prioritize, but you rarely mean it because you’re not comfortable setting your own boundaries or saying ‘no’ to people.  It’s not easy.

    Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    This will not sound realistic, but no. I have carefully developed routines and habits that help me manifest happiness, keep a positive mental state.

    Now, not a habit, but I do occasionally fall asleep on the couch.  I wake up a bunch and won’t go to my bed because I don’t want to disturb my wife.

    Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

    My daily workout at HomeGrown CrossFit. My wife and middle son are both also members, so we can integrate “family” and “health” habits – for example, we can connect on and discuss the “WOD” or workout of the day.  Sometimes we even do it together, as partners, which is awesome.  But also, the classes happen at specific times, which force me to step away from everything else, and then just go be in that moment.  CrossFit also has a certain intensity about it that makes it impossible for your mind to be anywhere else while you’re working out.  My gym is close to my home, so I can get home immediately after I work out and spend time with my family.  It all works together.

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

    See my lightening bolt below answer below.  After a long slow decline in my physical health after the Marines, I needed to develop habits around being physically healthy.

    I’ve done that.

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

    I am a Questioner. For example, I am sitting here questioning if this is really a MECE [mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive] list of tendencies and in what context are they MECE if at all?  I am probably not the most aggressive flavor of questioner…. But WOW do I hate arbitrary practices, doing things because conventional wisdom says to, doing things because it’s how others do them, or because someone think that’s how it “should” be done. (I immediately think “should? by what standard?”) I’m actually getting a shot of adrenaline as I type this, getting irritated by conventional wisdom.

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

    Not so much.  In truth, I lead a very simple life centered around the things I care most about.  The only times I get out of synch are when I’m allowing my carefully developed boundaries to get trampled because I feel like I’m being a “more reasonable” person to others.  An example, someone creates an urgent meeting at just the time I need to leave to go to my CrossFit class.  Most often, I can challenge whether this is truly an emergency (it rarely is), I can arrange to call in, etc., but sometimes, a person just really wants me there, possibly legitimately needs me there.  I will allow my boundary to be trampled, and it rarely (if ever), in hindsight, seemed worth it.

    I really dislike traveling for work.  I do it, of course, but I try to minimize it, but you can see how easily travel destroys what makes me happy – I am usually away from family, and there is a ton of friction involved to exercising (I am a CrossFitter!) in other places – hotel gyms are mostly terrible.  I hate running, etc.  Over time, I’ve dialed in the exercise thing – you can drop in on any CrossFit gym anywhere in the world – and I do that, but still taxis, lack of familiarity with my surroundings, not having easy access to healthy food… it’s tough and takes a lot of effort.  There’s not a great solve for family when I’m traveling.   I don’t find Skype or Google Hangout calls to be particularly useful/meaningful/suitable substitutions for being fully present with my family at home. We actually don’t do them.  My wife and I catch up a little bit – she gives me small updates on the day, and I love that, but no good substitute to being around my boys.

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

    After getting out of the Marines, I allowed myself to get on a slow unhealthy decline over the course of 7-10 years.  When I moved to California, I got a horrible case of poison oak.  New to the area, I went for the first time to my new doctor knowing I needed a steroid shot, and she said, “Sure, sure, a steroid… but I want to talk about your blood pressure.”  I was surprised.  She said, “It’s 140/104, which is very high.  Are you doing anything about that?”  She inquired about medication and I gave her a bunch of crap about how I didn’t like medicine and would solve it with some running, etc. I waved my hand, dismissing her concerns.

    She paused, looked at me, and said, “OK, let me tell you about the trade-off you’re making.  You ‘don’t want to make medicine’ (she used highly sarcastic tone of voice and air quotes which I can still see vividly in my mind’s eye 10 years later), and that means you’re almost certainly going to have a stroke before you’re 40.”  Yeah.

    I got on medicine, but set a goal to be healthy enough to be off of it.  Built a fitness habit out of that.  [This is such a Questioner story that I’m laughing out loud.]

    Do you embrace habits or resist them?

    EMBRACE.  Routine and habit are critical to my positive mental state.

    Has another person ever had a big influence on your habits?

    No, unfortunately, these have been developed through trial and error over years.

    The post “I Really Dislike Traveling for Work…How Easily Travel Destroys What Makes Me Happy.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:59:20 on 2017/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: alcohol, , , , career, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “The Habit of Daily Exercise Was Probably the Most Important and Unexpected Thing I Learned at Business School.” 

    Interview: Kim Scott.

    I’ve known Kim for many years. She and I (and my husband Jamie, too) worked at the Federal Communications Commission together. After that job, I switched to being a full-time writer, and she worked in a bunch of different places, including three failed start-ups, Google, and Apple, and wrote novels.

    I’m thrilled that with her co-host Russ Laraway, she’s heading the terrific new Radical Candor podcast on The Onward Project family of podcasts that I’ve just launched — podcasts about your life, made better. The Radical Candor podcast is about being a better boss, a better colleague, a better team member.

    I love talking to Kim about workplace issues. She has such interesting things to say about how to be a terrific boss or colleague who has high standards, and who can help people grow and improve, but also be kind. It can be a tough balance.

    Her book Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity comes out in a few months — a terrific books, with fascinating stories from her own life (including mistakes and failures, always my favorites), practical suggestions, and profound insights.

    As a side note, I thought of Kim when I read this line by Gertrude Stein in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, as she described her friend the poet Apollinaire:

    “The death of Guillaume Apollinaire at this time made a very serious difference to all his friends apart from their sorrow at his death. It was the moment just after the war when many things had changed and people naturally fell apart. Guillaume would have been a bond of union, he always had a quality of keeping people together, and now that he was gone everybody ceased to be friends.”

    I’ve never known exactly how she does it, but Kim also has this quality of “keeping people together” to help them be friends. I’m going to ask her to about this on the Radical Candor podcast! How does she do it?

    Naturally I wanted to quiz Kim about her habits.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?

    Kim: I declared 1999 the Year of my Fantasy. I quit my job and did only the things that I wanted to do. It turned out that not having a job was enormously productive: I wrote a novel, I worked at a pediatric clinic in Kosovo, and I started Juice Software. The reason I was able to do so many things that year was not because I wasn’t working, but because I started the year out focusing on how to be happy. I found three habits were responsible for keeping me happy:

    1. Sleeping 8 hours a night
    2. Exercising 45 minutes a day
    3. Having a real conversation with somebody I love every day.

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

    I had no idea how bad sugar is, how much of it is snuck into our food, or how much we need a little fat to deal with the sugar that’s in foods we don’t think of as sugary (milk, Cheerios, etc). I learned this only when I got gestational diabetes, and the experience of checking my blood sugar levels after every meal really changed my eating habits for the rest of my life.

    Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    I like to have a glass of wine with dinner. I prefer two glasses. And unless I focus on not having that third, I reach for it. That much alcohol interrupts my sleep, which affects my happiness.

    Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

    Sleeping 8 hours a night is probably the most important habit I have for health, creativity, productivity, and for enjoying leisure.

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

    I quit drinking altogether for about 18 months to break my 3 drinks a day habit. Here were the things that helped:

    1. Having a ritual of a seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime
    2. Eating dinner earlier–often I was hungry and had a drink rather than eating something
    3. Eating food I really looked forward to eating
    4. Arriving at parties late

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

    I am definitely a Rebel!

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

    I have twins who are seven years old and go to bed at 8:00. The temptation to crawl under the covers with them as they are falling asleep is often overwhelming. When I succumb to it, I fall asleep too. Then I wake up around 11 with a crick in my neck and am unable to go back to sleep till about 3 am. It’s a disaster for healthy sleep habits!

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

    I never exercised regularly until I got to business school. I went to Harvard, where they really stressed the importance of daily exercise, and put their money where their mouth was. They spoiled all business school students with a beautiful gym and free personal trainers. Developing a habit of daily exercise was probably the most important and unexpected thing I learned at business school.

    Do you embrace habits or resist them?

    As a Rebel I resisted anything that looked like habit or routine from 1967-1999. Then, in an act of rebellion, I found that having a few habits made me so much happier and left me with so much more energy for other more important rebellions that I adopted a few 🙂

    Has another person ever had a big influence on your habits?

    You have been a huge influence on habits–both breaking them and adopting them. [Awww, thanks Kim!]

    In 1998, I realized that I was in a habit of hating my work. I started talking to people about quitting my job so that I could break this habit, and you were one of the people I talked to. But, I wasn’t making any moves to actually quit. I kept coming up with reasons to delay quitting. Most people, nervous about the idea of my unemployment, reinforced my habit of staying in jobs I hated. But you looked at me one day and said, “Don’t forget to quit!” Your words rang in my ears over and over, and were a big part of what propelled me on the Year of My Fantasy.

    You also helped me with a more mundane habit: flossing. Like you I hate to floss. You suggested toothpicks, and I took your suggestion. I now have toothpicks at my desk, in my bag, in my car. My dentist is pleased, and I feel virtuous!

    The post “The Habit of Daily Exercise Was Probably the Most Important and Unexpected Thing I Learned at Business School.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:40:07 on 2017/01/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , career, , , , , , , , , , , , , , Russ Laraway, Side Hustle School,   

    A Not-So-Little Happier: Announcing the Launch of “The Onward Project” Podcasts! 

    The Onward Project - Podcasts curated by Gretchen Rubin

    Ta-da! In this not-so-Little Happier, I’m announcing the launch of a family of podcasts, headed by me, called The Onward Project.

    These podcasts will made your life better — happier, healthier, more productive, more creative.

    The shows are very different from each other, but they share a similar vibe. They’re fascinating, with great hosts, and they’re all full of concrete, manageable ideas, research, stories, and tips for how to make your life better.

    The idea is that if you like Happier, you’ll like the other Onward Project shows, too.

    Radical Candor 

    Radical Candor from Kim Scott and Russ Laraway. Kim describes the podcast as “how not to hate the boss you have, and how not to become the boss you hate.” It’s all about how to be constructive, and critical when necessary, and also kind. If you want to look at Kim’s book Radical Candor, it’s here.  New episodes every Tuesday.

    Side Hustle School

    Side Hustle School from Chris Guillebeau. If you heard our episode 87, our live event in Seattle, you heard us talk to Chris — so you have a sense of what an interesting guy he is. In Side Hustle School, he talks about how to pursue a “side hustle” — a money-making project you pursue apart from your day job. It’s not a part-time job; it’s not a hobby; it’s something you create. Chris is a Rebel, by the way.  New short episodes every day.

    I’m so excited about these podcasts — these hosts are so engaging, with such interesting stories and perspectives. And I can’t wait to hear what you think! Let me know.

    And to give a teaser, in March, two more podcasts will launch:

    Happier in Hollywood

    Yes, Elizabeth is doing another podcast! This one is with her longtime writing partner, Sarah Fain. It’s about how to be happier, healthier, saner, more creative, more successful, and more productive in a back-biting, superficial, chaotic, unpredictable, fundamentally world. I can’t wait to listen. Elizabeth and Sarah have the craziest stories.

    Whole30

    We got a huge response after episode 52, when we interviewed Melissa Hartwig of Whole30. Whole30 is a very structured way of eating for thirty days, to re-set your body clock. As we discussed, it’s not an approach that works for everyone, but for many people, it’s life-changing (and I don’t use that word lightly). Her ideas resonated so much with listeners that I asked her to start her own podcast.

    Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

    Happier listening!

    The post A Not-So-Little Happier: Announcing the Launch of “The Onward Project” Podcasts! appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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