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  • feedwordpress 12:00:14 on 2018/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , book list, book recomendations, , , family, favorite books,   

    My Favorite Books About Parenting. 

    Mother’s Day is coming up, so in honor of the holiday I decided to make a list of my favorite parenting books. I’ve read many parenting books, but there are a few that really stand out to me – in many cases, I’ve read these books several times.

    One thing I've discovered is that when a parenting book is truly excellent, its advice is just as helpful for dealing with adults as with children. Children and adults are more alike than we sometimes assume. For instance, when I was researching habits for Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I did a fair amount of research on the design of pre-school and kindergarten routines.

    So after reading these books about parenthood, I’ve applied most of what I learned to my adult relationships, with equal success:

    1. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

    How I love this book! It has helped me tremendously as a parent – and in every other aspect of my life. In fact, I probably think more about its lessons in the context of adult interactions that I do of child interactions. I've read it at least five times. It’s very wise, and it’s also a very fun read.

    One of the most important lessons I learned from this book? Make people feel happier by acknowledging that they’re not feeling happy. When we acknowledge the reality of other people’s feelings, they know they’re being heard. Instead of denying feelings like anger, irritation, fear, or reluctance, we do better to articulate the other person’s point of view. It turns out that when people’s bad feelings are acknowledged, those feelings dissipate more easily.

    This was a giant revelation to me. It really, really works. If you’d like to read a post I wrote on this subject, it’s here.

    2. I also love Faber & Mazlish’s book Siblings Without Rivalry.

    3. Practical Wisdom for Parents: Raising Self-Confident Children in the Preschool Years by Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum.

    I love this book, in part because it’s a terrific book and in part because it was written by two people whom I really like and respect. In fact, as I describe in my book The Happiness Project, I played a small role in the book’s inception. (You can also read that story here.)

    If you want to listen to a two-minute episode of "A Little Happier" where I describe one of the many wise things that Nancy Schulman said to me, it’s here.

    4. Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson.

    I’m a giant raving fan of Michael Thompson’s work. It’s practical, realistic, and insightful, plus it’s written in a very engaging way.

    Here’s a post I wrote about a passage from the book about why it’s a bad idea to "interview for pain." Again, this principle is just as true for adults as for kids.

    5. I also love Thompson’s book Mom, They're Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems. If you want to hear "A Little Happier" episode where I talk about one of the most important lessons I gleaned from that book, it’s here.

    6. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel.

    This is a very useful book that emphasizes why it’s important to let children make mistakes, suffer consequences, handle disappointment, and deal with boredom as part of their growing up.

    What are your favorite books about parenthood? I’d be especially interested in any recommendations aimed at parents of twenty-something children. My older daughter isn’t twenty yet, but she will be, before I know it. The days are long, but the years are short.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:51:14 on 2017/11/16 Permalink
    Tags: , family, , ,   

    A Happiness Paradox for Thanksgiving: Happiness Doesn’t Always Make Us Feel Happy. 

    In my study of happiness and human nature, I'm always striving to identify fundamental principles.

    For instance, I identified the Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness.

    The First Splendid Truth is: To be happier, we have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

    The First Splendid Truth accounts for a paradox I noticed within happiness: sometimes, happiness doesn't make us feel happy. (This is the kind of statement that a scientist couldn't say, but I can.)

    I was reminded of this paradox this morning, during a conversation with a friend.

    "Are you going to your mother's house for Thanksgiving?" I asked. "Looking forward to it?"

    "Yes, I am," he said, "but I'm not looking forward to it. I'll be doing all the work, because no one else can be relied on to do anything, and I don't really like spending time with most of my family."

    "So why do you go?"

    "It's important to my mother, she wants us to have these times together," he said with a shrug. "So I do it, even though it means passing up invitations to spend the holiday with my friends, which would be much more fun."

    Right. Because sometimes happiness means living up to our values, even when it makes us "feel bad" to do so, or doing things to promote other people's happiness, even when it doesn't make us "feel good."

    My friend is willing to "feel bad" by being bored, annoyed, overworked, and unappreciated with his family, and to give up the opportunity to "feel good" by having fun with his friends, in order to "feel right" about his relationship to his mother and family.

    We're happy when we know when we're living up to our values for ourselves. Even if that happiness doesn't make us feel happy.

    Can you think of examples from your own life when happiness didn't make you feel happy?

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:01:32 on 2017/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , family, , , ,   

    Setting the Table for a Halloween Holiday Breakfast–For One. 

    In my book The Happiness Project, I write about my resolution to "Celebrate holiday breakfasts." And this morning, I set the table for a Halloween holiday breakfast.

    I do these holiday breakfasts for all minor holidays -- it's festive, and also fun and easy.  I always use food dye to color some food or beverage in a holiday-themed color (this morning: black peanut butter). I re-use the same decorations every year, so I don’t have to spend money or do errands. I have a very precise place in the kitchen where I store my holiday-breakfast decorations, so I don't have to scramble to find anything.

    Studies show that traditions are important to family happiness. Family rituals encourage children's social development and boost feelings of family cohesiveness by 17%. They help provide connection and predictability, which people--especially children--crave. Without traditions, holidays don't feel much different from ordinary life. Holiday breakfasts give a big happiness boost, without much effort.

    But this year was a little different. Instead of setting the holiday breakfast for two daughters, I was setting it for one daughter. Now that Eliza's in college, it's just Eleanor at the breakfast table.

    And that was bittersweet.

    One thing I decided, when Eliza left, was that I wanted to make sure to maintain fun family traditions for Eleanor -- that I didn't want to skip the effort, or decide that Eleanor was too old to enjoy it (unless she truly has outgrown something), or forget to create these little moments.

    Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age, or that because I'm busy, I won't take time for celebration.  The days are long, but the years are short.

    In fact, of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people.

    One challenge of Eliza leaving for college is figuring out how to adapt traditions for the new situation. I want to maintain, but also evolve.

    Do you have any little traditions that help you celebrate the holidays in a manageable way? Have you had to figure out how to adapt traditions, as your family changed?

    If you want some tips for creating new family traditions (oxymoron alert!), here are some ideas.

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:48:00 on 2017/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , family, , , , ,   

    Podcast 133: Create a Spot of Transition, Accountability for Introverts–and Is There a Correct Way to Load a Dishwasher 

    Update: I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just SIX days. Not long now!

    Remember, as a thank-you for people who pre-order the book, I’m making my videos series free for people who pre-order. All the details are  here. 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.

    I’m looking forward to heading to Los Angeles, and many other cities, on my book tour. Info here if you’d like to come to an event. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, and you’d like to come to the meet-up from 5:00-7:00 p.m. September 17, go onto the free Better app and under the tab “Events,” look for “Los Angeles Meet-up with Gretchen and Liz.”

    1pix
    happier podcast things in transition
    Try This at Home: Create a place for things in transition. Having a system for things in transition helps a household or office to be more efficient, and also removes the visual clutter of having stuff out.

    Here’s a photo of my “spot of transition.” Library books to return are on the left, books to give away are on the right, and there’s room for other things in transition. Elizabeth and I will work on her spot of transition when I visit her in L.A.

    Happiness Hack: As I describe in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I love my system of organizing my daughters’ paper-based mementos (birthday party invitations, our family Valentine’s cards, school photo, etc.): years ago, I bought two durable, slightly-more-attractive-than-cardboard file-boxes, added a file folder for each school year, and now I add anything worth saving.

    It’s organized, visually appealing, space-efficient — and it’s so satisfying to know exactly where to put the official camp photo or the special birthday card.

    Above is a photo of Eleanor’s box. You could choose any kind of file-box, but if you’re curious about the one I used, it’s here.

    Know Yourself Better: Do you have strong views about the right way to load a dishwasher? I’m astonished by how passionately people will argue about this topic.

    Listener Question: Jenna is an Obliger who is shy. She wants to create the outer accountability that she needs as an Obliger, to meet her inner expectations — but doesn’t like meeting in groups.

    I suggest that she might consider joining an accountability group on my free “Better” app — find the app here or search in the app store under “Better Gretchen Rubin.”

    Speaking of Obligers, if you want to take the Quiz to tell you whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel, it’s here. Or to learn even more, buy The Four Tendencies book.

    Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m going too fast. I remind myself, “Go slow to go fast.”

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Gold star for whiteboards! At home and at work.


    Free Resources:

    1. If you’d like a discussion guide to one of my books, you can email me or go to the Resources section.
    2. If you’d like to get the free “Moment of Happiness” email newsletter, with a great quote about happiness or human nature, sign up here or email me.

    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 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.

    Check out Lyft  — join the ride-sharing company that believes in treating its people better. Go to Lyft.com/happier to get a $500 new-driver bonus. Limited time only.

    Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

     

    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 Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 133: Create a Spot of Transition, Accountability for Introverts–and Is There a Correct Way to Load a Dishwasher appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:58:33 on 2017/08/25 Permalink
    Tags: , family, , , ,   

    Some Thoughts on Happiness After Dropping Off My Daughter at College. 

    This was a big week in the life of my family:  my older daughter Eliza has gone off to college.

    In her case, she did a pre-program, where she went hiking in New Hampshire with a small group of other incoming freshmen.

    This step reminded me of how we did the “Separation” stage when she was starting pre-school.

    During pre-school, she began the school-going experience by attending for a short day, I’d wait nearby with the other parents, and she and I got used to the idea of her going off to school by herself.

    For this outdoor program, we sent her off, but it felt more like a return to summer camp. Before she left home, the focus was on “Do you have the right hiking gear?” not “Now you’re saying good-bye to our dog Barnaby for several months.” When I dropped her off with her backpack, we told each other, “See you next week.”

    This hiking trip made the transition less abrupt. During that week, I told my husband, “I feel like I’m on the mezzanine level — in the mid-way point between two stages.” It was helpful to Eliza, because she got the chance to get to know a group of other students beforehand.

    Then after a week, my husband, my younger daughter Eleanor, and I packed up the car to meet her. We spent the day unloading, unpacking, meeting Eliza’s roommate and her family, buying a trash can, and all the rest.

    I can get very tightly wound in situations like this, so in the car on the trip up, I announced to my family, “I’m really going to try to stay calm. I know there will be ambiguous directions [a pet peeve of mine], and it’s going to be hot, and there will be a lot of waiting and frustrations, but I am going to stay calm.” (My mother is rightly always reminding me to stay calm.) I wanted this day to be a memorable, fun, serene good-bye day. I didn’t do a terrific job of staying calm, but I did a pretty good job of staying calm.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about happiness, and about self-mastery, it’s to think in advance about the experience I want to have, the likely pitfalls, the challenges that always trip me up. By using the Strategy of Safeguards, I help myself avoid acting in ways that will cause me regret later.

    It’s always odd, for me, when I’m going through an experience that I know will be a major life milestone. As we were waiting for Eliza to return from the hiking trip, I said to Eleanor, “I remember so well the day I moved into college. For all of us, we’ll remember this day. We’ll reminisce, ‘Remember Eliza’s first day?'” I had a similar thought when Eleanor came home from the hospital. A friend sent flowers, and I remember rocking Eleanor and thinking, “I have a baby who is such a newborn that the congratulatory flower arrangements are still fresh.” That happened more than twelve years ago.

    Time is so strange, how events can seem so distant and yet so recent. Already, Move-in Day seems like part of the distant past.

    Of everything I’ve ever written, this one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that has resonated most with people. Now that little girl who rode the bus with me is off on her own.

    In episode 125 of the “Happier” podcast, we talked about advice that listeners suggested for dealing with this family transition (also for packing–we got lots of great packing recommendations). The advice was great, and the most helpful suggestion came from the listener who said, “Remember, this is the end of something, but it’s also the beginning. You’ll have a new chapter in your family life, new favorite restaurants, and spots to visit, new memories. This chapter is short, so enjoy it.”

    I’ve reminded myself of that helpful observation often, because of that, for me, addresses the heart of my mixed feelings about this time.

    I’m thrilled for my daughter — she’s ready for this change, this experience will be terrific, she is so very fortunate to have this opportunity to get more education. And of course this change is a happy change — while often when we deal with endings, it’s in the context of loss.

    I’m sad because it’s the end of her childhood — of her being under our roof. Last week, I got a shock when I glanced into her room in the early morning: her door was open, her bed was made, and for a moment I panicked, where was she?

    And even the extra space in our bathroom makes me a little sad. She shared a bathroom with my husband and me, and the removal of her products gives us a lot more room in the medicine cabinet. This change was gratifying to my simpicity-lover side, but it was also an unexpected visual reminder of her absence.

    Speaking of echoes to pre-school separation, I keep reminding myself of the wise observation made by the nursery-school director, who as we went through “separation,” told us, “This is the first of many times that you will say good-bye to your child.

    We’ll see her soon. Visiting Day, Thanksgiving, and sheesh, I’ll be back in town for an event in less than three weeks! (I told her she didn’t have to attend, and she and I didn’t even need to see each other, if she thought it would be too unsettling to have me pop back into view.)

    It won’t be the same, but while it’s the end of an era, it’s also the beginning of an era.

    If you want to hear Eliza’s views, you can listen to her podcast “Eliza Starting at 16.” I certainly can’t wait for her next episode.

    We also did a Facebook Live broadcast together where viewers gave both of us advice for this big transition. Watch it here.

    For me, it’s always difficult when something comes to the end. Even if I’m ready and happy for it to end, I always feel a sadness in the thought that a period of my life is over.

    But then I remind myself, “No beginnings without endings. Growth brings change.”

    Also, I remind myself, “Gratitude.” As always is the case, feelings of gratitude crowd out negative feelings. When I think about how very, very, very fortunate we are, that comforts me. And that steels me to handle my own feelings and to turn outward, to think about other people’s difficulties and challenges, and the problems of the world.

    Have you grappled with this feeling — of dealing with the end of an era?

    The post Some Thoughts on Happiness After Dropping Off My Daughter at College. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:26:37 on 2017/05/14 Permalink
    Tags: family, , , ,   

    In Honor of Mother’s Day, One of My Happiest Memories of My Mother. 

    Today is Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada.

    Some people think it’s ridiculous to celebrate holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – that these are just commercial holidays forced on us by clever marketers. But I think it’s nice to be prompted to think lovingly about your mother and your father, and the mothers and fathers in your life.

    The other day, I was contemplating (as I often do) an observation made by my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux, in her extraordinary memoir, The Story of a Soul.

    While writing about being blamed for things and scolded for little transgressions in her convent, she noted, “I noticed this: when one performs her duty, never excusing herself, no one knows it; on the contrary, imperfections appear immediately.”

    So true, right? You do something perfectly and reliably, nobody notices. You make a mistake, everyone complains.

    This is particularly true of parenthood, which involves a myriad of tasks, small but pesky and relentless, that need to be done without fail. “I packed lunch for four years,” a friend told me, “and all I hear about – to this day – is that time in first grade when I forgot to put in my son’s dessert.”

    It’s true that parents don’t get a gold star for everything they do right, but often, just hear about it when they mess up. But it’s also true that, as my mother once told me, “The things that go wrong often make the best memories.” Here’s an example.

    Of the countless times in my childhood when my mother drove carpool, or picked me up to go to an orthodontist’s appointment, or wherever, I have only the haziest recollections. All I remember is the time when she was very late picking me up. But this is an important memory.

    It was a very snowy day when I was in grade school — fourth grade, I think — and my mother was late. She’s completely reliable, so I was anxious about the fact that she wasn’t there, and I was embarrassed about being left over when all the other kids had gone home, and I was worried about what would happen if she didn’t show up. She didn’t come, and she didn’t come, and finally I was sent to wait in the library, in the main building of the school, until someone came to get me.

    It got later and later. I could feel the building emptying out. Still no sign of my mother. The snow was getting heavier. I was getting more and more anxious.

    Finally, I saw my mother coming up the steps to the library, and I had to fight back the urge to burst into tears from sheer relief. I was so happy to see her! She was staggering under the weight of my sister, who was probably four or five years old, both of them covered with snow, and she was slipping around on the unshoveled walkway as she battled her way to the door.

    And I thought to myself, Nothing can ever stop my mother from coming for me.

    I remember that her car had become stuck on a patch of ice, but I have no recollection of what happened next. Did my father come to get us, did the school receptionist give us a ride? I’ve never asked my mother about that afternoon, so perhaps my memory isn’t even accurate. But that’s how I remember it.

    And that’s how I think about my mother.

    The post In Honor of Mother’s Day, One of My Happiest Memories of My Mother. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 15:00:05 on 2017/05/06 Permalink
    Tags: , family, ,   

    Need an Idea for a Gift for a Mother in Your Life? 

    Next Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada.

    If you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for a mother in your life, may I self-promotingly suggest one of my (bestselling) books about happiness?

    The Happiness Project was a #1 New York Times bestseller, was on the bestseller list for two years, and has been translated into more than thirty languages. In the book, I describe the year I spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. I examined areas like energy, work, play, mindfulness, money, attitude, and eternity.

    If you’d like to read an excerpt, to see if you think the book would be a good gift, read here.

    Happier at Home was also a New York Times bestseller. I did a second, deeper happiness project — this time focused on being happier at home. Because if I’m not happy at home, it’s hard to be happy.

    So, starting in September (the new January), I dedicated a school year — from September through May — to concentrate on the factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, parenthood, body, neighborhood.

    If you’d like to read an excerpt, read here.

    I love all my books equally, but my sister Elizabeth says that Happier at Home is her favorite of all my books.

    Or perhaps a mother in your life is interested in changing her habits? Nothing is a bigger source of happiness than good habits! If so, I suggest my latest book, Better Than Before.

    If you’d like to read an excerpt, read here.

    Or for something completely different, for a mother who likes to color, there’s my coloring book: The Happiness Project Mini Posters: A Coloring Book with 20 Hand-lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame.

    You could also buy the coloring book in advance and ask your kids to color in a quotation appropriate to the occasion — such as “The days are long, but the years are short” — to give to their mother as their gift. Kids love to give handmade gifts, and mothers sure love to receive them.

    I know some people think that days like “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” are artificial and forced, but for myself, I find it helpful to have reminders to think about the important people in my life.

    How about you? Do you embrace these holidays — or resist them?

    The post Need an Idea for a Gift for a Mother in Your Life? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 15:50:15 on 2017/04/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , family, , , , , , , ,   

    Observations from Marie Kondo about the Life-Changing Magic of Creating Good Habits. 

    Marie Kondo

    Interview: Marie Kondo.

    It’s hard to exaggerate the influence that Marie Kondo has wrought with her blockbuster books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. The latter book takes its name, of course, from the question she urges us to ask ourselves, “Does this possession spark joy?”

    Her ideas about how to create order and fight clutter have helped countless people to give themselves more energy and peace. (You might ask, “How does something paradoxically give you more energy and give you more peace?” and I would say, “That is exactly the effect of clutter-clearing.“)

    The New York Times called her “perhaps the world’s only decluttering celebrity.” Absolutely!

    Even I don’t agree with everything that Marie Kondo prescribes (as I write about here), I’m a huge fan of her work. It’s practical, thought-provoking, and often surprising. For most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm, and her “KonMari method” resonates with many, many people.

    One thing I love is that alongside detailed instructions for how to fold a t-shirt, Marie Kondo makes observations like this: “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature.” Profound.

    In my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home (can’t resist mentioning–both bestsellers), I write a lot about the role of possessions in building a happy life. It’s a fascinating area.

    I was thrilled to get the chance to ask Marie Kondo questions about happiness and good habits.

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

    In terms of tidying, I’m definitely an Upholder. I stay tidy because I feel that the effects ground me and allow my home to spark joy for my family and me.  However, I’m not sure if I qualify as an Upholder in other aspects, as I’ll procrastinate submitting written work or sometimes show up late to get-togethers with friends or colleagues!

    Perhaps this makes me a Questioner, as I’ll only do things if, when I ask myself: “Does it spark joy?” and the answer is “yes.” My very profession is centered on encouraging others to ask themselves: “Does it spark joy?” This must qualify me as a Questioner! [Yes, that sounds Questioner to me.]

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

    I usually go to bed early and wake up early with my kids, who are 18 and 5 months old. However, because I travel frequently for work, I’ll sometimes get jet-lagged. This can disrupt my sleep pattern for a couple of days after! When this happens, I get a little anxious that I am getting behind on work or missing out on time spent with my daughters while I try to catch up on rest.

    Simply having children can interfere with healthy habits!  For instance, before bed, I usually like to stretch and release any tension that may have developed over the course of the day. However, if one of my daughters cries or calls out for me, I’ll tend to them and, by the time they’re calmed down, I’m tempted to pass on stretching and head straight to bed.

    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.?

    When I was 15, I would continually tidy my room, only to have it become cluttered again shortly after.  This cycle contributed to so much stress that one day, I fainted. This breaking point made me realize that I was approaching tidying the wrong way.  Instead of focusing on discarding things and approaching tidying as the removal of negativity, I realized that I needed to focus on finding and keeping things that spark joy.

    Do you embrace habits or resist them?

    For daily life, I try to keep to routines, but for work, I prefer variety. For example, I get new ideas by traveling and exposing myself to other countries’ cultures. I enjoy giving talks in a variety of locations, because it allows me to interact with different people and learn from their diverse perspectives.

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

    My grandmother taught me the importance of tidying up even those places you don’t openly see, such as the insides of drawers and bureaus.  She recognized the intrinsic beauty in belongings and took pride in their presentation in her home.  When she dressed and accessorized, she applied the same philosophy to her personal appearance – everything mattered.  I developed my initial respect for my belongings as a result of her influence.

    The post Observations from Marie Kondo about the Life-Changing Magic of Creating Good Habits. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 13:00:17 on 2017/04/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , family, , free, , , , management, , , , , , , , , tools, , ,   

    Big Announcement: the “Better” App Is Now Free to Use! 

    My obsession with my Four Tendencies framework is just as strong as ever.

    Ever since I first came up with the Four Tendencies framework, I’ve grown more and more interested in it — and more and more people keep asking me questions about it. (Don’t know about the framework? Don’t know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quiz here.)

    People want information about the Four Tendencies, and they also want help — they email because they’re eager to join an accountability group, they want to work with a coach who understands the Tendencies, they want to apply the framework with their medical patients or as a manager at work or with their coaching clients. And I hear from a lot of parents who want to use the Tendencies (especially parents of Rebels).

    I’m finishing up my book The Four Tendencies (sign up here to hear when it goes on sale in fall 2017), but I also wanted a way for people to exchange ideas and questions. I’ve been staggered by people’s brilliant insights, imaginative solutions, and compelling examples. Henry James couldn’t do better.

    So I created the app Better, an app to help you harness the Four Tendencies framework to create a better life. You can use it as an app on your phone, or you can use it on your desktop.

    Since launch, there has been so much fascinating, helpful discussion on the Better app. It’s exciting to see how everyone puts the Four Tendencies into action – at home, at work, in health, and in life.

    I can hardly drag myself away from reading the comments and posts.

    When it launched, there was a $9.99 monthly charge for the app, but as publication of The Four Tendencies drew nearer, I started to think about how the app experience would be better and better (sorry, couldn’t resist that) as more people contributed.

    And I knew that for some people, a fee is a barrier.

    So I decided to make the Better app free for anyone who wants to join. The more, the better, for all of us.

    If you know people who would be interested, or who would benefit from the discussions here, or want to start or join Accountability Groups, please let them know they now can join for free.

    I hope this change makes your life a little better!

    The post Big Announcement: the “Better” App Is Now Free to Use! appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:45:21 on 2017/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: April Fool's Day, , family, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Do You Pull April Fool’s Day Pranks? I Pranked My Daughters–But Not for Long. 

    In The Happiness Project, I write about one of my favorite resolutions — to celebrate minor holidays — and Elizabeth and I have also talked about this a few times on the Happier podcast. I’ve been gratified to hear that many people also have fun celebrating these little, colorful-yet-not-much-work occasions. (I love it when people send me photos.)

    Today is April Fool’s Day, and I played a trick on my daughters (my husband is traveling for work). It’s a Saturday, and they’ve been on spring break, so I went into their rooms at the time when I wake them up on school days, and went through the whole morning routine as if it were Monday morning.

    For a few minutes, I managed to fool them in their grogginess, but pretty quickly they realized what I was up to.

    Reflecting on my last few years of April Fool’s Day pranks, I’ve learned something about myself: I do better with a sight gag, like the time I dyed the milk in the carton bright green, and then poured it over my daughter’s cereal (see image), than I do when I’m misleading them. I’m a terrible liar and can’t fool them for long.

    I love these kind of easy, fun traditions. They build happiness because they mark the passage of time in a special way, they’re memorable, they’re light-hearted, they contribute to a sense of group identity.

    Do you play April Fool’s Day pranks? What are some good ones? I’m already collecting ideas for next year.

    The post Do You Pull April Fool’s Day Pranks? I Pranked My Daughters–But Not for Long. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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