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  • gretchenrubin 14:00:52 on 2017/11/26 Permalink
    Tags: , human nature, , ,   

    As You’ve Grown Older, Have You Become More Willing to Consider a Person “Good?” 

    “As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.”

    --Samuel Johnson, quoted in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

    As you've grown older, and had more experience of the world, do you think you are more or less likely to consider a person to be "good?" Do you expect more, or less, of people?

  • gretchenrubin 14:00:32 on 2017/11/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , human nature, , ,   

    The Surprising Truth About Why Your To-Do List May Be Failing You. 

    The most important thing I've learned about happiness, habits, and human nature? There's no one magic, one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone.

    We've all heard the expert advice: Do it first thing in the morning! Do it for 30 days! Start small! Give yourself a cheat day!

    But here's the thing: those approaches work well for some people, some of the  time. They don't work all the time for everyone.

    The most important thing is to know ourselves, and what works for us.

    One place where I've seen this issue arise? With to-do lists.

    Over and over, I see the advice, "Write down your to-do list, set your priorities, work your way through the items, this is the way you'll get things done most successfully."

    But I've been talking to people about this advice, and I've discovered that to-do lists just don't work for many people. They make them, they try to use them, they fail.

    And they often think, "Something's wrong with me, I have no will-power, I can't stick to a list, why can't I use this simple tool that works so well for so many people, what's my problem?"

    To which I say: "There's nothing wrong with you. How could we tweak the tool, to see if there's a way to make it more effective for you?"

    Since I've started looking for new approaches to the to-do list, I've found several versions that work for people:

    To-do list:

    If the classic to-do list works for you, terrific. I make them all the time myself, and find them very helpful. That's no surprise: Upholders tend to do well with a to-do list. But if it doesn't work...

    Could-do list:

    A Rebel told me that the minute she made a to-do list, she wanted to resist it (the very term "to-do list" is not Rebel-friendly). So she changed the vocabulary. She explained,

    ‘To-do’ lists almost never get done by me, because as soon as I have to do something, it’s the last thing I want to do. A ‘could-do’ list, however, reminds me that I can choose whether or not I complete the task.”


    Variation: the Might-could list: I'd never heard this term until an audience member used it during my book tour. I love it! It's not a to-do list; it's a might-could list.

    Ta-da list:

    In episode 134 of the "Happier" podcast, for our weekly "Try This at Home" tip, Elizabeth and I suggested making a ta-da list. Make a list of everything you've already accomplished. You're often pleasantly surprised and energized to see how much you've done, and giving yourself credit for your efforts often make it easier to keep going.

    To-day list:

    It's easy to feel overwhelmed at the sight of all the errands, tasks, and aims that require our attention. If you can't bear to contemplate the complete list, try making a to-day list. Just list the things that you'd like to get done today.

    We're told that "everybody" should use to-do lists, and that "everybody" finds them useful. Nope, not in my observation.

    How about you? Are you a fan of to-do lists, or have you found another version that works for you?

  • gretchenrubin 14:00:53 on 2017/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , Chuck Palahniuk, human nature, , ,   

    Agree? “Not Everybody Is Looking for an Easy, Fun Job.” 

    Chuck Palahniuk wrote a piece about life on a Navy submarine. As he was leaving the sub, an officer asked him to write a good piece; fewer and fewer people saw the value in the kind of service he valued most. Palahniuk writes:

    I saw the value. I admire those people and the job they do.

    But by hiding the hardships they endure, it seems the Navy cheats these men out of the greater part of their glory. By trying to make the job seem fun and no-big-deal, the Navy may be repelling the people who want this kind of challenge.

    Not everybody is looking for an easy, fun job.

    Chuck Palahniuk, “The People Can,” Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories

    I'm haunted by this last line. I agree: I suspect that sometimes, when we try to convince people to undertake a certain job, activity, or aim as pleasant and fun (or even manageable), we might dissuade people who might otherwise be interested.

    Not everybody is looking for a fun, easy job.

    Agree, disagree? Can you think of examples about yourself or someone else, when a person was attracted to a difficult, arduous task?

  • gretchenrubin 12:00:48 on 2017/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , human nature, progress, , ,   

    Do You Believe You Can Improve Human Nature Before You’ve Changed The System? And Vice Versa. 

    “Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing…Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time.”

    –George Orwell, “Charles Dickens” in A Collection of Essays

    This is one of my favorite essays by George Orwell, and that’s saying a lot.

    I think about this quotation often, because I spend most of my time thinking about individual change. How steps can each of us take, in our own lives, to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative?

    Which is not to say that I don’t think that the system should change — just that, for whatever reason, it’s the second question that interests me more.

    How about you?

    The post Do You Believe You Can Improve Human Nature Before You’ve Changed The System? And Vice Versa. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

  • gretchenrubin 13:34:16 on 2017/03/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Christopher Alexander, human nature, , , ,   

    Agree? “It Is Hard, So Terribly Hard, to Please Yourself…It Is Almost the Hardest Thing in the World.” 

    “It is hard, so terribly hard, to please yourself. Far from being the easy thing that it sounds like, it is almost the hardest thing in the world, because we are not always comfortable with that true self that lies deep within us.”
    –Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order Book Four: The Luminous Ground

    I agree. It is so, so hard to please yourself.

    The more I write about happiness and human nature, the more clearly I see this.

    But it sure does sound easy.

    What do you think? Do you find it hard, or easy, to please yourself?

    The post Agree? “It Is Hard, So Terribly Hard, to Please Yourself…It Is Almost the Hardest Thing in the World.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

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