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  • gretchenrubin 12:00:29 on 2018/11/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guide, holiday, , ,   

    Gift Guide for Kids in College and Middle School, Suggested by My Daughters 

    One of the great joys of life is giving people gifts that they want and need—and a big happiness stumbling block is not having any good ideas for what such a gift might be.

    I decided to ask my daughters what they'd suggest, for people wanting to buy gifts for children their age.

    My older daughter Eliza is a sophomore in college. She suggests:

    • temporary tattoos (such as these)
    • fun flip-flops for the shower
    • Command hooks of various kinds
    • twinkle lights
    • nice pens
    • a smart speaker
    • soft blanket
    • fun keychain
    • bean bag or inflatable chair (I have to admit, I had no idea what an "inflatable chair" was, but Eliza explained that it's something like this.)
    • a fun collapsible umbrella
    • gift card to Starbucks or food places

    My younger daughter Eleanor is in middle school. She made the point that this is a tough age for gift-giving, because kids are too old for toys but too young for many items that adults would enjoy.

    She suggests:

    If you're looking for unexpected, delightful gifts for recipients of any age, check out the MoMa Gift Store.

    What are your suggestions for good gifts for these ages?

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:00:01 on 2017/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , holiday,   

    More Gift-Giving Suggestions! 7 of My Favorite Suggestions from the “Happier” Podcast. 

    On the "Happier with Gretchen Rubin" podcast, Elizabeth and I have mentioned several items that might make good gifts. So, in case gift-finding is turning into a Happiness Stumbling Block for you, consider these:

    Flying Wish Paper -- this is so fun to use. You see it fly into the air, and you get to make a wish. Very dramatic. Fun for the whole family, as they say.

    Hard-boiled egg-maker -- how I love my egg cooker! I use it constantly. Hard-boiling eggs is a breeze.

    Tabletopics Family: Questions to Start Great Conversations -- my mother brought this to the holiday table a few years ago, and we've really enjoyed the family conversations it has prompted.

    Electric foot callus remover -- if you want to hear me laugh uncontrollably as Elizabeth describes giving this gift to her mother-in-law, listen here.

    Pads of paper, mugs, post-it notes, etc. personalized with a person's name -- I use Zazzle.com, but I'm sure there are many places to get this done. I learned this tip from Elizabeth's gift-giving habits: adding someone's name, or a personalized image, makes an ordinary gift seem much more special.

    Book weight -- Admittedly, this is a very specialized gift, but for the person who can use it, it's wonderful. It's a weight that will hold a book open to a certain page -- great for people like me, who need to refer to books and take notes. Perhaps if you know someone who is writing a Ph.D., or has to write a lot of papers for school.

    FREE VALUABLE GIFT to give or receive -- PODCASTS! If you already know how to subscribe to podcasts, you can teach someone who doesn't know how, and supply that person a few listening suggestions. In my experience, once people try listening a few times, they love podcasts. And podcasts are free! and easy to use!

    Or, if you don't know how to listen to podcasts, write that on your holiday list. Ask someone to teach you. It's like getting a free subscription to cable TV.

    And of course, I must put in a plug for my own books, journals, calendar, coloring book, mugs, and so forth. In January, I always get a big spike in email from people who received one of my books as a holiday gift -- that's always so fun.

    What are some of your favorite gifts to give?

     
  • gretchenrubin 20:25:46 on 2017/12/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , holiday,   

    Need Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas? Here are the 7 Books I Most Often Give as Gifts. 

    I love giving books as gifts -- during the holiday season, and throughout the year. I constantly recommend a million books, but there is a handful of books that I find myself giving over and over, because they've had such an influence on me.

    Here are the seven that I most often give as gifts:

    1. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes.

    As I write about in Better Than Before, this book changed my life in dramatic ways, and all for the better. It also changed my father's life. I hand this book out constantly. It's easy to read, interesting, and (for me) utterly convincing.

    2. A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander.

    I'm not a visual person, and this book was a revelation to me; it allowed me to understand space and design in an entirely new way.

    3. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte.

    Yes, I know, it's the worst title ever, but it's a gorgeous, brilliant book that changed the way that I think about information. I just gave this book to a friend last week.

    4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

    This is the novel that I give someone who's stuck in the hospital and needs to be distracted. It's so absorbing and exciting.

    5. Selected Essays by George Orwell.

    I admire Orwell's writing tremendously, and am always trying to encourage other people to read his work.

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

    This is by far the most useful and entertaining parenting book that I've ever read. I use the advice to deal more effectively with my daughters, and also with adults. I've probably read it five times.

    7. Open by Andre Agassi.

    I don't know anything about tennis, but I love memoirs, so I read this book because so many people praised it as a memoir. It's a brilliant, fascinating book, but I give it as a gift because it's an astonishingly accurate portrait of an Obliger. Some people make inaccurate assumptions about the Obliger personality, so I often say, "Read Open, and you'll get a very different understanding of how this Tendency can play out." (Don't know what an Obliger is? Read here.)

    I hear from a lot of people who give my books as gifts, and that's always thrilling to hear.

    What books do you most often give as gifts?

    You'll notice that I didn't include any works of children's literature or young-adult literature. That's a whole different category. If you'd like to see my 81 favorite works of kidlit, look here.

     
  • gretchenrubin 22:06:09 on 2017/12/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , holiday   

    Looking for Holiday Gifts? Consider These Suggestions. (Warning: Blatant Self-Promotion!) 

    'Tis the season to buy presents, and most of us can use some good suggestions. So be warned, I’m going to make a plug for my various creations -- books, journals, calendar, coloring book, and even mugs.

    The Happiness Project was a #1 New York Times bestseller, on the bestseller list for more than two years, translated into more than 30 languages, and was even a question on the quiz show Jeopardy! (Which was quite surreal, I must admit.) I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific research, and lessons from pop culture to figure out how to be happier.

    Happier at Home is about how to be...you guessed it...happier at home. Of everything I've ever written, this book is my sister Elizabeth's favorite. Time, possessions, neighborhood, clutter (of course), the sense of smell -- I got to write about so many great subjects in this book. Also a New York Times bestseller.

    Better Than Before is all about how to make or break habits -- so if you know someone who's planning to make 2018 a happier, healthier, more productive year, this book might be a big help. It turns out it's not that hard to change your habits -- when you know how to do it in the way that's right for you. Also a New York Times bestseller.

    The Four Tendencies is my newest book, and is all about a personality framework I discovered. When you know if you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, many things in life become much clearer. And when you know other people's Tendencies, that's a big help as well. Great for health-care professionals, managers, colleagues, teachers, parents, sweethearts. Also a New York Times bestseller.

    Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill -- ah, what a joy it was to write that book! I wrote it thinking, “I want to write an accessible, manageable book about Churchill so that people can learn enough about him to want to tackle the giant biographies.” I wanted everyone to be as interested in Churchill as I was. What I've learned, however, is that the people who enjoy my book most are the people who already know a lot about him. So if you know someone who is a big Churchill fan, he or she might enjoy it. Also a bestseller.

    Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal -- a one-sentence journal is a manageable, realistic way to keep a journal. Writing one single sentence is something that most people can manage, and one sentence is enough to hang on to memories.

    Better Than Before Day-by-Day Journal -- this journal is designed to make it easier to stick to your good habits. There are tips, quotes, trackers, "don't break the chain" boxes, and everything else to make it easier to achieve what you want.

    Happier 2018 Page-a-Day Calendar -- this calendar one page for each day of the year, with a strategy, tip, quotation, or reminder. I like formats that let me read one item a day; it makes it easy to digest information and put it to use. (Some people have asked if the content differs from the 2017 calendar. Yes, it does.)

    Happiness Project Mini Posters: a Coloring Book of 20 Hand-lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame -- I love the trend of adults returning to the love of coloring books -- meditative, creative, fun, and also makes it harder to snack. As someone who is obsessed with color, I love any excuse to pull out my colored pencils or fancy markers.

    Mugs! For a fan of the Happier podcast, I have a "Happier" mug. And for fans of the Four Tendencies, I have a mug for Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel -- each one featuring my favorite motto for that Tendency. For instance, the Rebel motto is, "You can't make me, and neither can I."

    What's the most memorable book you've received as a gift?

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:19:32 on 2017/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , holiday, , ,   

    What Do You Plan to Read Tomorrow?–Apparently It’s the Biggest Reading Day of the Year? 

    According to a study commissioned by the huge bookseller Barnes & Noble, Thanksgiving Eve--which this year falls tomorrow, on Wednesday, November 22--is the busiest reading day of the year.

    It's a very popular (and therefore stressful) travel day, and many people turn to books and periodicals to make traveling more pleasant.

    My family usually celebrates Thanksgiving in New York City, so I don't have any travel-related reading time.

    In general, though, I love to read on airplanes. I made a rule for myself: when I'm in transit, I don't work; I read for pleasure. This rule means that I get much more reading done, plus I enjoy traveling much more.

    I can't read during car trips, however -- I get car-sick. Can you read while riding in a car?

    If you're traveling tomorrow, do you plan to do some reading? What book or periodical are you taking?

    If you'd like to see my one-pager on tips for getting more reading done, it's here.

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

    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: , , , , holiday, ,   

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

    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 12:52:43 on 2017/03/22 Permalink
    Tags: April Fool's, , , , holiday, , , , , , , , , , talking, , , , , weather   

    Podcast 109: Pay Attention to the Light, a Fun April Fool’s Tradition, and a Demerit for Talking Too Much. 

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

    Update: My daughter Eliza turns 18 years old! Unbelievable. If you want to listen to Eliza Starting at 16, it’s here; if you want to watch my one-minute video “The Years Are Short,” it’s here. I know now, even better than when I created that video, how truly short the years are.

    Try This at Home: Pay attention to the light.

    I mention the very interesting book Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick; you can read my interview with Alan Burdick here.

    And here’s the beautiful quotation I read: “Light, that first phenomenon of the world, reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors.” –Johannes Itten

    Happiness Hack: Our listener Kim suggests celebrating April Fool’s Day with a “Junk Dinner” of junk food.

    Know Yourself Better: Do you like seasons, or do you like constant good weather?

    Listener Question: Our listener Trish asks: “what is happiness anyway? How do we measure it?”

    If you want to read more about this question, I discuss it at greater length in The Happiness Project.

    Demerit: In a conversation with a friend going through a difficult time, I talked too much.

    Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the notion of changing doctors.

    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 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. Shipping is free.

    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 109: Pay Attention to the Light, a Fun April Fool’s Tradition, and a Demerit for Talking Too Much. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:06:56 on 2016/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: , crafts, , , , holiday, , , , , , 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.
    1pix
    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.

     

    1pix

    1pix

    1pix

    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.

     
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