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  • feedwordpress 12:00:07 on 2018/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , Fun, Ingrid Fetell Lee, ,   

    “I Have a Phrase That I Come Back to Again and Again: ‘Remember What You Love.’” 

    Interview: Ingrid Fetell Lee

    Right now, I can't learn enough about color and scent -- I'm looking for anything I can read, see, touch, learn, or listen to on these fascinating subjects. Plus I'm always thinking about happiness and human nature.

    So when I got an advance copy of Ingrid Fetell Lee's new book, I couldn't wait to read it. Just the title was enough to spark my enthusiasm: Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.

    Ingrid  is a Brooklyn-based designer and writer whose work focuses on the way that design affects our health and happiness.

    She gave a terrific TED talk called "Where joy hides and how to find it" and writes an excellent blog called The Aesthetics of Joy.

    She has more than twelve years of experience in design and branding, most recently as Design Director of IDEO's New York office, having led design work for Target, Condé Nast, Eileen Fisher, American Express, Kate Spade, Diageo, Pepsico, and the U.S. government, among others.

    About herself, she notes, "loves pancakes, polka dots, and rainbow sprinkles, and has an extensive repertoire of happy dances for any occasion."

    I couldn't wait to talk to Ingrid about happiness, habits, and productivity.

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

    Ingrid: Happy dances! My husband and I often do a happy dance on Friday evenings to mark the start of the weekend. We also do them when one of us has good news. It sounds silly, but there’s science to suggest it works. Research shows that celebrating good news with someone else can deepen relationships by increasing our confidence that they will be there for us in hard times, not just in good ones. And dancing with other people can bring about a state that scientists call synchrony, which elicits feelings of unity, generosity, and a desire to be helpful. Not to mention that happy dances are silly and fun!

    Gretchen: What’s something you know now about building healthy habits or happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Ingrid: That true happiness is really a sum of many smaller moments of joy. When I was younger, I associated happiness with large milestones or goals in life: getting into the right school, finding a good job, getting married, having children. Reaching some of these milestones has brought me happiness, and some I haven't reached yet — but now I understand that you can have all the “right” things happen in life and be unhappy, and you can have big disappointments and still be extremely happy.

    My research on joy has shown me that the small daily joys matter a lot more than we think. A picnic in the park with a friend, a deep belly laugh, or taking time to stop and smell the proverbial roses: these simple moments of delight have powerful effects that linger long after the moment has passed. Small sparks of joy can mitigate the physical effects of stress, open our minds, and connect us to others. They can even make us more resilient, by sparking positive feedback loops that promote long-term wellbeing. Though the moments themselves seem small, they have ripple effects that do end up influencing our happiness on a broader scale.

    The reason this is important is that while the big elements of happiness are often out of our control (we don’t always get the dream job, and we don’t know when we’ll meet “the one”), joy is always accessible to us. Turning our attention to the joys of the moment absorbs us in the present, focusing us on the parts of our lives that are good, not the ones we’d like to change. We notice more moments of joy — in fact, research shows that people in a state of joy are actually more attuned to positive stimuli on the periphery of their visual field — and begin to include others in our joy. When we focus on joy, happiness finds us.

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

    Ingrid: I've found that people are often surprised to learn just how deeply our physical environment affects our emotions and wellbeing. The field of psychology has historically focused almost exclusively on the internal factors that shape our emotional experience, in the form of thoughts, behavioral patterns, and neural chemistry. Almost no attention has been paid to environmental factors. So, if we are feeling sad or anxious, we’re conditioned to believe this is due to either our genetics or our learned responses. We never look around us and think that there might be something in our surroundings that is making us uneasy.

    Yet when you look at the research, there are many well-documented links between environment and emotional wellbeing. One example that has gained visibility in recent years is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which highlights the link between light and mood. But light therapy has actually been shown to be effective in treating non-seasonal depression too, so effective that in some studies the results are comparable to those achieved by anti-depressants. (We rarely hear about this research, perhaps because it's more lucrative for pharmaceutical companies to fund studies about drugs than about light.) Other research shows that employees with sunnier desks sleep better and are more physically active in and out of the office than those without windows, and that just changing the lightbulbs in a nursing home can reduce both depression and cognitive decline among Alzheimer’s patients.

    These effects can come from very subtle aspects of the environment, ones we may not be conscious of, such as symmetry and shape. For example, researchers at the University of Chicago have found that showing people pictures of visually disordered, asymmetrical environments increases the likelihood that they will cheat on a test. And fMRI studies have shown that when people are shown pictures of sharp, angular objects, a structure in the brain called the amygdala, associated in part with fear and anxiety, lights up, but stays quiet when people look at curved versions of the same objects.

    I've found that many people have an intuitive understanding of these effects but have been taught to tune them out. Or worse, made to feel that their impulses toward color and light, symmetry and curves are frivolous. What has surprised me most about this work is how validated many people, especially women, feel to know that these sensations are a real, measurable contributor to their wellbeing. I even heard from one woman who told me she cried with relief after watching my TED talk, because she had so often been judged as childish for her vibrant home and whimsical outfits. My hope is that as awareness rises of the role that environment plays in emotional wellbeing, more people will feel permission to seek out joy in their surroundings, and as a society we will recognize that mental health is a function of both what’s in us, and what’s around us.

    Gretchen: Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”) 

    Ingrid: It’s not a motto, exactly, but I do have a phrase that I come back to again and again: “Remember what you love.” When I get overwhelmed by everything I need to do, or feel anxious about what I’m trying to say or how people might receive it, this phrase helps remind me that everything I do at root stems from the love I feel for this beautiful, diverse world, for the people in it and the extraordinary joy that can be found in even its ordinary corners. I do what I do because I want to share that love with others. When there’s a task I really don’t want to do, “remembering what I love” helps me see the bigger picture. An email or errand that normally might feel like a chore becomes an extension of that love; it enables it and is connected to it .

    This phrase also helps me conquer some of the anxiety I feel about speaking in public. If I focus on the idea that I have to stand on a stage and talk about my work, I get nervous. But if I "remember what I love," that feeling cuts through the anxiety and helps me see getting on the stage as an opportunity to share my excitement and joy with others. I think this phrase is one of the things that kept me working on Joyful for ten years, even during times when I was really unsure if I’d be able to finish it. Every time I felt lost, “remembering what I love” brought me back to the fundamental reasons why I wanted to write the book, and reinvigorated my desire to see it through.

    “Remember what you love” is also really helpful in relationships. In the day-to-day of a marriage, a work partnership, or a friendship, it’s easy to let small disagreements or annoyances take over. When you remember what you love about the other person, it reconnects you to the reasons you chose to be in this relationship, and it becomes easy to let some of the small things go. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but this also applies to one’s relationship to oneself. As someone who can be quite hard on myself, I think it’s not a bad idea to occasionally balance out the critical voices by “remembering what you love” about yourself too.

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

    Ingrid: It’s not a habit exactly, but as a city dweller I’ve found that getting out into nature regularly is important to my sanity and wellbeing. When I’m in the city, this means taking a walk to Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, an old pier that was converted a few years ago into a meadow. I sometimes bring a notebook and spend an hour there working on an essay or a talk. But I also enjoy getting out of the city as often as possible, to the beach or for a hike, or to go snowshoeing in the winter!

    Having houseplants brings a little of that nature into the house, and creates a new habit by necessity: watering once or twice a week. I find I really enjoy this task — checking on them all, dusting their leaves and removing spent flowers, and seeing what new growth has appeared. Even if I have a million other things to do, the plants need me, and that brings me back into connection with the natural world.

    Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

     
  • feedwordpress 10:00:02 on 2018/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Fun, , Pam Lobley, , ,   

    “Let’s Take the Pressure Off, and Enjoy the Passage of Time.” 

    Interview: Pam Lobley.

    Pam Lobley has been a columnist and writer for many publications, including the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, BlogHer, and others.

    She's also the author of the book Why Can't We Just Play?: What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy.

    Pam Lobley's work reminds me of my one-minute video about "The days are long, but the years are short." You can watch it here.  It also reminds me of my resolution in my book Happier at Home, to "guard my children's free time."

    I couldn't wait to talk to Pam about happiness, habits, and productivity.

    Gretchen: What’s something you know now about building healthy habits or happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Pam: When I was 18, I figured happiness would be found in grand adventures, success, and accomplishments. But I have found that my deepest happiness has come not from the extraordinary days, but from the ordinary ones. Big accomplishments and milestones do bring happiness, but they can also bring stress, change and pressure. A new job or a book publishing deal are wonderful, but they also can mean taking on new and difficult tasks and pressures. A fancy vacation is delightful, but the expense, scheduling and unexpected disappointments can diminish the joyful feeling - like the time we took the kids to Disney and they weren’t that interested in the rides. They just kept asking when could we go back to the hotel and swim in the pool!

    Running into a good friend while I’m walking the dog or driving to the orthodontist with my son and talking about his day ... these regular moments bring me so much happiness, notably because they are built in to my life and occur naturally. Realizing that they make me happy leads me to another realization - my life is a happy one! This kind of appreciation of the present moment would not have been possible for me to understand at age 18.

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

    Pam: I hate to admit this, but I am not that organized. I think I am, and I always have a to-do list, but in reality everything takes longer than I think it will, I let stuff slide left and right, and then I end up late and rushing. Rushing kills my joy every time. That feeling of being behind and trying to finish a few things before time runs out is so distracting and defeating. The rushing itself makes me unhappy, then it compounds itself because I tend to make bad decisions or feel irritation when I am rushed - and that leads to further unhappiness.

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

    Pam: I need 7+ hours of sleep a night, I exercise several times a week, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I get outside for some time every day. Without these things I am super cranky and definitely not creative.

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

    Pam: Questioner! Questioning the conventional wisdom of raising children today is what led me to write my book Why Can't We Just Play? What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy. I asked myself, "Why is our family life so overscheduled, and when did parenting get to overwrought and frantic?" I answered it by removing all our activities for an entire summer, and letting my sons, ages 8 and 10 at that time, "just" play. Because we had NO scheduled activities, no camps, no classes - nothing but play and free time - I wryly referred to that summer as "a summer from the 1950s" and read and researched that era as the weeks went by. Adopting the 1950s mindset offered sharp perspective of current family values. Was that decade a better time to raise children? Well, it certainly was a simpler time. People did not check emails at midnight or enroll their 12 year olds in travel baseball leagues with 4 games a week.

    We think of the 1950s as a time when conformity reigned supreme, but there is plenty of conformity in this era as well. The pressure to control and improve your children, and to micromanage their days is true for the vast majority of middle class families. Once I got off that merry-go-round, I saw my kids more clearly. They needed tremendous amounts of down time, and they were growing up in a world which provided almost none. In addition, I became aware that the more we rushed around, the faster I felt they grew up, and the less time I had to enjoy simply being with them. Being a Questioner is the reason I had the idea, and then the stamina, to carry out that experiment.

    Gretchen: Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to "Be Gretchen.") Or a quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful? Or a particular book that has stayed with you?

    Pam: I love that line from the James Taylor song, "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time..." I’m somewhat obsessed with the passage of time. I am constantly aware of how precious our time on earth is, how quickly kids grow up, how life can change in an instant, of how memories we create are kept alive. Resisting the urge to do more, building free time our family’s schedule is something I strive for daily, though not always successfully. Savoring days when the kids are growing up is especially important to me, but every stage of life has its treasures and opportunities, and I don’t want to blur past them. A phone call with my sister, planning a party with my husband, shopping with my teen for his prom tux ... rather than pressing through those tasks, I remind myself to take my time. Let those moments be ones of happiness. Let things take longer. Let’s take the pressure off, and enjoy the passage of time.

    Why Can't We Just Play? by Pa m Lobley

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:08:19 on 2017/08/02 Permalink
    Tags: , Fun, , , , , ,   

    Podcast 128: Connect with TV, Conquering the Snooze Alarm–and Is It Possible to be a Mix of the Four Tendencies? 

    Update: Elizabeth is excited because tomorrow on the “Happier in Hollywood” podcast, she and Sarah talk about a very common happiness stumbling block: self-criticism. When is it helpful, and when is it toxic?

    I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 41 days. So close, and yet so far!

    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:  Connect through television. On episode 9 of “Happier in Hollywood,” the weekly “Hollywood Hack” was to “watch the TV shows your boss watches” to create an easy way to connect.

    But TV is a great way to connect not only with a boss, but also with co-workers, teenagers, grandparents…many relationships. Have you ever used TV to strengthen an important relationship?

    I quote from Tyler Cowen’s Discover You Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Your Motivate Your Dentist.

    Happiness Hack: Put your alarm device across the room, so you have to get out of bed in order to turn off the noise.

    1pix

    Four Tendencies Tip: If you want to take the Quiz, to see whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here.

    People often suggest that they think they’re a mix of Tendencies, but I argue that just about every one of us does fall into one core Tendency.

    That said, the Tendencies do overlap, and it’s possible to “tip” to a Tendency that overlaps with your core Tendency. For instance, I’m an UPHOLDER/Questioner, and Elizabeth is an OBLIGER/Questioner.

    Listener Question: Debbie asks how to figure out if she truly finds it fun to pursue the outdoor activities that her husband loves.

    Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth has started playing a new app game, Two Dots.

    Gretchen’s Gold Star: I managed to stay (reasonably) calm while Eliza and I were shopping for some things she needs for college.


    Three 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.  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.

    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 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 Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 128: Connect with TV, Conquering the Snooze Alarm–and Is It Possible to be a Mix of the Four Tendencies? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

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

    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.

     
  • gretchenrubin 20:57:49 on 2017/03/17 Permalink
    Tags: , Fun, , , , , self-command, , ,   

    What Healthy Treats Do You Give Yourself? (Note the “Healthy.”) 

    healthy treats

    In my book Better Than Before, I describe the many strategies that we can use to change our habits. We all have our favorite strategies — but I think most of us would agree that the Strategy of Treats is the most fun strategy.

    “Treats” may sound like a self-indulgent, frivolous strategy, but it’s not. Because forming good habits can be draining, treats can play an important role.

    When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command—and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.

    Studies show that people who got a little treat, in the form of receiving a surprise gift or watching a funny video, gained in self-control. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish.

    If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish.

    Click to tweet

    When we don’t get any treats, we begin to feel burned-out, depleted, and resentful.  We start to feel deprived — and feeling deprived is a very bad frame of mind for good habits.

    When we feel deprived, we feel entitled to put ourselves back in balance. We say, “I’ve earned this,” “I need this,” “I deserve this” and feel entitled to break our good habits.

    So we need treats.

    But it’s crucial to give ourselves healthy treats, because unhealthy treats are often bad for us. We don’t want to give ourselves something to feel better that just makes us ending up feeling worse. Like a costly splurge, an extra glass of wine, a big brownie.

    All of us should have a long list of potential healthy treats. That way, when we think, “I need a treat,” we have ideas.

    For something to be a treat, we have to think of it as a treat; we make something a treat by calling it a “treat.” When we notice our pleasure, and relish it, the experience becomes much more of a treat. Even something as humble as herbal tea or a box of freshly sharpened pencils can qualify as a treat.

    For instance, once I realized how much I love beautiful smells, a whole new world of treats opened up to me. If I need a treat, I visit my “collection of smells” in my apartment or I stop by a perfume counter.

    At the same time, it’s important not to call something a “treat” if it’s not really a treat. It may be good for you, and it may even feel good, but it’s not a treat if you don’t look forward to it with pleasure. So a yoga class could be a treat for someone, but it’s not a treat for me. I do it, and I’m glad I do it, but I don’t think, “Oh, yay, time for yoga!”

    Sometimes, treats don’t look like treats. For example, to my surprise, many people consider ironing a “treat.”

    Here are some other treats I’ve heard about:

    • crossword puzzles
    • looking at art books
    • shopping at a very expensive store (no possibility of buying, so just enjoy looking)
    • translating Latin
    • breaking codes
    • manicure (I never get manicures and dread them; the opposite of a treat for me)
    • visiting camping stores
    • online shopping (I heard from many people who enjoy online shopping with no plan to buy–they have fun filling their cart, then abandon it)
    • choosing plants and seed for the garden
    • video games and phone games
    • getting a massage
    • taking a bath, especially if with special bath salts
    • buying yourself flowers
    • visiting a special place (a park, sculpture, or museum)

     

    If you want to hear me and Elizabeth talk about why you should treat yourself, listen to this episode of the Happier podcast.

    And if you want to hear Donna and Tom of Parks and Recreation talk about their annual Treat Yo’ Self day, watch the hilarious clip here.

    What healthy treats are on your list?

    The post What Healthy Treats Do You Give Yourself? (Note the “Healthy.”) appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:42:20 on 2017/03/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Fun, , , , , , taxi, Taxi TV,   

    Have You Ever Championed a Book That Your Book Club Disliked? I Have. 

    I always get a big kick out of any mention of me or my work in the press, on TV, wherever.

    So it was very fun to be included in Erin Geiger Smith’s Wall Street Journal piece, “When You Bomb at the Book Club.

    I’m in four book clubs (one regular, three for children’s literature), so I’ve made my share of recommendations that other people didn’t like.

    The piece is behind a paywall, but I get mentioned here:

    Author Gretchen Rubin is a prolific reader and a member of four New York City-based book clubs. She suggests monthly reads for 65,000 subscribers to her online “book club.” But the selection of Sylvia Engdahl’s futuristic 1970s novel “This Star Shall Abide” for her personal children’s literature book club baffled fellow members. “They didn’t like the writing, they didn’t like the twist,” Ms. Rubin says.

    She also recalled a lot of pushback for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s book “The Secret Garden,” which she calls “a towering classic of world literature.” She expected an enthusiastic discussion. Instead, multiple members expressed their opinion the first half felt disconnected from the rest, and that they just didn’t like it in general. For some, “If you don’t like their choice, it really upsets them, whereas me, I’m like, ‘If you don’t like “The Secret Garden,” there’s something wrong with you,’ ” Ms. Rubin says, somewhat jokingly.

    I mean, who doesn’t love The Secret Garden? I’m still baffled by that.

    Have you ever suggested a book that your book club didn’t like?

    In other spottings around town, my podcast Happier gets a fleeting but definite mention in….Taxi TV!

    For all of you non-New-Yorkers, New York City taxis have little screens in the back that show clips of TV shows, news updates, and ads. In an ad for New York City as a center of podcasting, Happier gets a mention. Fun!

    I tried to take a photo, but I’m too slow on the draw.

    The post Have You Ever Championed a Book That Your Book Club Disliked? I Have. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:01:54 on 2017/01/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Fun, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Podcast 101: Do Something for Your Future Self, How Flying Wish Paper Eases Heartache, and “Integrator” or “Compartmentalizer?” 

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

    We’re having so much fun with our Instagram project. Join in, post photos of whatever makes you…happier! Use the hashtag #Happier2017 and tag us — I’m @gretchenrubin and @lizcraft.

    As we discuss, 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.

    Try This at Home: We got this suggestion from our listener Nikki: Do something for your future self.

    Here’s the post where Nikki got the idea: “Do something kind for future you” on Wil Wheaton’s blog.

    If you’re an Obliger, what accountability strategies work for you? There’s a wide range of strategies that work for different Obligers.

    Happiness Hack: In episode 97, we talked about the challenge of dealing with the pain and anger of a break up.

    Our listener Donna had a great approach, by creating a ritual using flying wish paper:

    I was sad, angry and regretful.  I knew the break-up needed to happen, but was having a hard time processing the emotions that came after.  I purchased some flying wish paper and I wrote out all of the things I wanted to release about the situation – using one piece of paper for each thing.  I then took the paper, matches and a glass of wine outside to my patio, put on some nice music and lit the papers one at a time.  As the papers burned down, they lifted off into the air.  It felt like a tribute instead of a catharsis.  I was acknowledging that these feelings had been a part of my life, but were no longer serving me and so I was letting them go.

    If you’re curious about flying wish paper, you can check it out here — it comes in all sorts of colors and patterns. (in our family, we use flying wish paper to makes wishes for the new year, and I’ve also used it as a fun activity at a birthday party.)

    Know Yourself Better: Are you an “integrator” or a “compartmentalizer?” Kathleen wrote:

    I’ve noticed in the workplace that folks tend to fall into one category or the other when it comes to how they deal with the crossover between work and life.  For example, some people seem perfectly happy to answer emails on the weekends, to work on projects late at night, etc., all while they integrate fun into the day (social lunches, coffee breaks, extended online shopping or social media sessions).  I think of these folks as integrators — folks who, seemingly quite willingly, blend work and life together.  They don’t seem to mind switching between the two.

     

    Some of us, on the other hand, are compartmentalizers.  I fall squarely into this camp. Work is work, life is life, and I strive to keep the two separate in terms of time allocation.  I can’t enjoy a coffee break or a relaxed dinner when I know there’s a big project waiting for me to return (as intellectually engaging as that project may be), so I’d rather plow through the work first, then get to the fun as a reward.  I cut the fat from the workday, with the aim of making weekends and evenings — as much as humanly possible — work-free.  (I’m a lawyer at a big firm, so it’s often not possible, but it’s a goal worth chasing!)  I also seem to be one of the few professionals I know who won’t put her work email on her personal iPhone, instead preferring to keep the old firm-issued Blackberry as a second, separate device.

     

    On the whole, the compartmentalizer approach makes me happier, because it means personal time is truly distinct and enjoyable, and the jarring transitions between life and work are minimized.  But I get that others work better when the boundaries between work and life are more fluid.

    Listener Question: Whitney asks, “I have a  hang-up with the idea of a one-sentence journal. I feel like it would be stressful to try to distill my day into one sentence! Any tips for how to do that?”

    Demerit: Years ago, I started a terrific system for keeping my daughters’ mementos in  a highly organized file box (I used this one), but I didn’t maintain it. Now I need to go back and get everything organized.

    Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the enthusiastic, friendly, energetic crossing-guard in her neighborhood.

    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.

    Remember,  I’m doing 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 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.

    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.

    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. Shipping is free.

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    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.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 101: Do Something for Your Future Self, How Flying Wish Paper Eases Heartache, and “Integrator” or “Compartmentalizer?” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:22:05 on 2017/01/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , Fun, house, , ,   

    A Happy Memory: the “Stripey House” of Kansas City. 

    Gosh, I don’t remember much of my life. I constantly work on keeping mementos and photographs, because it seems like other people are so much better at remembering the past than I am. And I love to remember the past.

    And it’s funny what I remember — the weirdest, most random moments and thoughts.

    Some memories stick in my mind from sheer repetition, and for some reason, while I was walking home from the subway today, I was hit by the memory of the beloved “Stripey House.”

    In Kansas City, there’s a mall called Ward Parkway where we often use to go, and on the way home, we’d pass the “Stripey House.” We didn’t know anything about it — who lived there, why they’d decided to paint their house in pastel stripes like a pack of FruitStripe Gum.

    And we loved it — my sister Elizabeth and I always looked for it, and called out “Stripey House!” as we passed by.

    Remembering that funny house brought back happy memories, of all those car trips to the mall with my sister and mother (not my father; my father avoids the mall whenever possible).

    I was just back at Ward Parkway at Christmastime, but alas, the Stripey House is not longer stripey.

    When I was very young, I vowed that when I grew up, I would paint my house purple. Living in an apartment building has excused me from that vow so far — but one day, I hope that I’ll keep it — or maybe I’ll take it up a notch, and go for stripes.

    Especially now that I’m obsessed with color, I’m enchanted by the idea of painting a house a really striking shade(s).

    Do you have a funny memory like that, from childhood? Something that you always looked for, with delight?

    The post A Happy Memory: the “Stripey House” of Kansas City. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:06:56 on 2016/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: , crafts, , Fun, , , , , , , , shared work,   

    Podcast 96: Set Your “Holiday Intention,” the Fun of Making Graham-Cracker Houses, and the Problem of Holiday Shared Work. 

    grahamcrackerhousegretchen

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

    Elizabeth’s young-adult book Flower is ready for pre-order! As promised, here’s the cover. It sounds so good, I can’t wait to read it! (In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking–why didn’t Elizabeth send me an advanced copy? I need to remind her.)

    To start the new year in a happier way, we’re doing a fun project on Instagram. Every day, for the month of January, Elizabeth and I will post a photo on Instagram of something that makes us happier (by giving us a boost, helping us stick to good habits, reminding us to feel grateful, etc.).  Join in! Use the hashtag #Happier2017 and tag us — I’m @gretchenrubin and Elizabeth is @lizcraft.

    Try This at Home: Set your holiday intention; in other words, figure out what you intend to get from your holiday experience.
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    grahamcrackerhouseawningHappiness Hack: To make a graham-cracker house, you build the “house” out of graham cracker sheets, use tub frosting to glue it together, let dry for several hours–then cover the house with frosting and decorate with candy, sprinkles, pretzels, marshmallows, licorice, etc. So easy, so fun!

    Happiness Stumbling Block: During the holidays, shared work can become a problem. (Here’s my post about shared work, which is one of my all-time favorite posts.)

    Listener Question: Jenny asks, “I’m a librarian, and I want to give gifts to my volunteers — but I don’t have a big budget. Any ideas?”

    Demerit: Once again, I left my gift-buying too late. I knew what I should do, but I just didn’t do it.

    Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her in-laws for making handmade tamales each year. It’s a lot of work, and they do it each year.

    Don’t forget: Elizabeth’s young-adult book Flower is ready for pre-order!

    flowercraftolsen

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

    Remember,  I’m doing 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 BlueApron.comWish you cooked more? Get all the delicious, fresh ingredients you need to make great meals, delivered to your front door. Check out BlueApron.com/happier to get your first three meals free.

    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.

     

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    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.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 96: Set Your “Holiday Intention,” the Fun of Making Graham-Cracker Houses, and the Problem of Holiday Shared Work. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:57:55 on 2016/12/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , Fun, , , , rainbow, , , ,   

    Why Am I Obsessed with the Subject of Beautiful Colors? 

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    Periodically, I get obsessed with subjects.  And nothing makes me happier than a new obsession! It’s energizing and exciting.

    Sometimes, this obsession leads to a book — like The Happiness Project or Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill. Sometimes it stays a private obsession — like my obsession with beautiful scents.

    Sometimes the subject is a big, obvious subject, like the subject of habits in Better Than Before, or sometimes it’s more obscure, like my long obsession with the question “Why do people destroy their own possessions?” which became the book Profane Waste.

    It’s a wonderful, mysterious feeling to become wildly interested in something new. A new part of the world lights up for me, a previously ignored section of my beloved library becomes familiar, I have a new way to connect with people, and my bookshelves start to fill up (which is a mixed blessing).

    Now, why am I so intrigued with the subject of color? No idea.

    I know the minute my obsession started. On our podcast Happier, in episode 71, Elizabeth and I suggested the try-this-at-home of “Choose a signature color,” which sparked so much response that in episode 75, we did a deep dive into color. I got hooked.

    However, despite my fascination with the subject of color — or perhaps because of it — I haven’t been able to choose a signature color (though I think if I did, it would be purple).

    I love reading about color, taking notes on color, looking at color. It’s so much fun, it’s a great treat.

    Oddly, it’s a treat that also feels like more work. I spend time doing research and taking notes, which is “fun” but is also a busman’s holiday. I also feel obligated to do my reading, so instead of picking up a novel I’m dying to read, say, I think “I really need to spend some time this afternoon reading about color.”

    Of course this sense of obligation is completely self-imposed. As George Orwell wrote in the brilliant book The Road to Wigan Pier, “But what is work and what is not work?  Is it work to dig, to carpenter, to plant trees, to fell trees, to ride, to fish, to hunt, to feed chickens, to play the piano, to take photographs, to build a house, to cook, to sew, to trim hats, to mend motor bicycles?  All of these things are work to somebody, and all of them are play to somebody.  There are in fact very few activities which cannot be classed either as work or play according as you choose to regard them.”

    Or as Tom Sawyer put it more succinctly, in Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and…Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

    But why is color my Play? I’m extremely un-visual, so perhaps part of my pleasure comes from tapping into an underused aspect of my existence –as I did with the sense of smell.

    And the writing about it! Much of it is extremely dry, but some of it is beautiful and thought-provoking. In the end, no matter how tied something may be to the physical senses, I still can only appreciate things through reading.

    “All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’—they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the color of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.” — Diana Vreeland

    “If you cover a surface in red; where is the surface now? Under the red? Over it? The red itself?” –Bernard Cohen

    “Colors must have a mystical capacity for spiritual expression, without being tied to objects.” –Johannes Itten

    “The fact is, that, of all God’s gifts to the sigh of man, colour is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn…the purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.”  –John Ruskin (a bit self-congratulatory on my part!)

    “I knew a wise guy who used to make fun of my painting, but he didn’t like the Abstract Expressionists either. He said they would be good painters if they could only keep the paint as good as it is in the can. And that’s what I tried to do. I tried to keep the paint as good as it was in the can.” — Frank Stella

    I’ve learned new words, like “ombre.”  I have a much greater appreciation for painting.  I’ve learned some odd history — like the existence of killer wallpaper. My love of color has given me an excuse to buy giant sets of fine colored markers and pencils. It has given me something new in common with a few of my friends whom I’ve discovered, to my surprise, are also color-obsessed.

    I realize that just as a romance usually fades out or ends in marriage, probably my love of color will abruptly burn itself out or turn into a book (I already have a title picked out: “My Color Pilgrimage.”). Who knows? I’m just trying to enjoy this beautiful, beautiful obsession for as long as it lasts.

    If you have any suggestions for books I should read, paintings I should look at, movies I should watch, websites to follow, articles to read, or anything else, I’d love to hear them. I’ve received so many great tips from readers.

    Have you ever become intensely interested in a subject? Why? Have you stayed interested for a long time, or have you moved on to other subjects?

    The post Why Am I Obsessed with the Subject of Beautiful Colors? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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