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  • gretchenrubin 10:00:25 on 2019/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , love, ,   

    Some Advice I Give Myself Over and Over, About My Romantic Relationship. 


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    I love my husband Jamie with all my heart.

    But as research shows—and I've found this in my own experience—married couples often treat each with less courtesy than they show to friends, or even strangers.

    I find it all too easy to snap at Jamie, to read my email while I'm talking to him on the phone, or to get annoyed by some of his habits.

    I remind myself often to take good advice—that I know perfectly well!

    Here are the challenges that come up most often for me, and the advice I give myself most often.

    1. Don't take things personally.

    It was really helpful for me to realize that Jamie is a Questioner, and that Questioners often intensely dislike answering questions. Before I understood this, I always wondered, "Why does he refuse to tell me what he's making for dinner, or what time we're supposed to arrive for the party?" I thought he was subtly trying to drive me crazy. But now I realize, "Yeah, that's an annoying thing about a lot of Questioners; it doesn't reflect on our relationship, he's like this with everyone."

    2. Use gentle language.

    Elizabeth and I just talked about this idea on the Happier podcast. I can be short-tempered and accusatory. Sad but true. I constantly make an effort to speak more gently, to say, "Do you know where the latest copy of The New Yorker is?" rather than "Did you throw away The New Yorker before I've read it, the way you always do?"

    3. Connect with love.

    I have so many resolutions related to creating a tender, attentive connection. Especially in The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write about the many ways I try to show affection. For instance, the very first thing I do every morning is to give Jamie a kiss, and I get up to say hello or good-bye every time he comes and goes from the apartment.

    4. Look for ways to be thoughtful.

    I used to wish that Jamie handed out gold stars more often than he does—and in fact, I still wish he did, but I've accepted the fact that he doesn't. I remind myself that I'm doing thoughtful things for him not because he'll thank me, but because that's the way I want to be, that's the kind of atmosphere I want to live in. I'll buy him his favorite kind of shampoo if I notice that he's running low. I'll send him funny photos or cheerful updates during the day, especially when he's traveling.

    5. Make the positive argument.

    I'm very interested in the problems of shared work (one of my very favorite posts that I've ever written is on the subject), and this is an issue in marriage. Because of a phenomenon called unconscious over-claiming, we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people’s. This makes sense, because of course we’re far more aware of what we do than what other people do. According to Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, “when husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent.”

    When I start telling myself things like, "Jamie never helps," "Jamie never plans," "Jamie never answers my emails," I make the positive argument, and remind myself of everything he does do.

    In David Dunning’s fascinating book, Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself, Dunning observes:

    [People] can argue anything. If asked to argue that some assertion “A” is true, people can do that. If next asked to argue that the opposite of “A” is true, they can do that, too, often with the exact same ease and effectiveness…When testing a hypothesis, people tend to emphasize evidence that confirms the hypothesis over information that disconfirms it. For example, if I asked someone whether he or she was an outgoing individual, that someone will likely sit back to think about times he or she has been an extroverted, sociable person…if I asked the same person whether he or she is the shy type, he or she would likely think of exactly…opposing examples because they confirm the new hypothesis. (46-47)

    I have really found this to be true.

    I have Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness, and the Sixth Truth is: "The only person I can change is myself." I can't assign resolutions for my husband to follow (as tempting as that sounds; it wouldn't work). Nevertheless, I've found that when I change, a relationship changes, and the atmosphere of my home changes.

    How about you? What advice do you have to repeat to yourself, about your relationship to your sweetheart?

     
  • feedwordpress 13:30:27 on 2018/04/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , Joanna Coles, love,   

    “Love Is the Food of Life. And We All Deserve to Eat and Love Well.” 


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    Interview: Joanna Coles.

    Joanna Coles has had a very interesting career. Before her current position as the first Chief Content Office for Hearst Magazines, she was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. Plus, in addition to her significant positions in the magazine world, she's also very involved in the world of TV, in shows like So Cosmo, The Bold Type (a scripted series based on her life), Running in Heels, and Project Runway.

    As if that's not enough, she's just published a book: Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World. (I love the double meaning of this title.) It's all about how to find meaningful love in a world full of meaningless encounters. She gives fifteen rules or "love hacks" -- I always love a hack or a true rule! She uses the metaphor of the diet, of eating more healthfully, as a way to look at finding the right sweetheart.

    I couldn’t wait to talk to Joanna about happiness, habits, and relationships.

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

    Joanna: Whenever I take the subway or a cab in New York City, I try not to go on my phone and instead look around. I find it helps me notice things which leads to ideas. And sometimes when you are thinking about nothing in particular and you let your mind wander it's exciting where it will end up. And if I see someone standing alone at a party or looking awkward on their own, I will try and go up and say "Hi" because walking into a room on your own can feel terrifying, and it makes you feel good to make someone else feel welcome.

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

    Joanna: That friends and partners should always be treated with respect, even when you least feel like it! And that its always better to have a conversation about whatever is going wrong with them, than to ignore it or pretend you don’t care. Good communication is the key to everything. It’s hard but it’s almost always worth it. At work, at home, at play.

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

    Joanna: Harvard began a longitudinal study in 1938, during the Great Depression, that tracked 268 sophomores to study what made people happy. Now 80 years later, what they found is that good relationships were essential. Robert Waldinger, the director of the study, said in a recent press release, "The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too." This is why finding finding someone to love who loves you back is so vitally important—your health and happiness depend on it.

    The other research I found fascinating, and grim, is the negative impact of binge drinking on women, and how closely it is tied to sexual assault in this country. Getting drunk is an accepted part of our culture today, for women and men, but the ramifications of getting black out drunk are so costly for women. It is the one area where women should not want equality—our bodies have more fat which means we process alcohol more quickly then men. The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) defines binge drinking for women as four drinks in two hours, where for men it is five. And yet, binge drinking has risen 17% for women between 2005 and 2012 versus 4.9% for men. The other stat that ties in to this, also by the NIAA is that half of all sexual assaults involve alcohol. This is why Rule #8 is, Know Your Limits.

    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?

    Joanna: I end Love Rules with a snippet from a story Ian McEwan wrote for The Guardian following 9-11. It still brings me to tears. In the piece, McEwan writes about about a husband who misses the last panicked call from his wife who is in the Twin Towers that day. She was calling to say goodbye. He wrote, "There was really only one thing for her to say. Those three words that all the terrible art, the worst pop songs and movies, the most seductive lies, can somehow never cheapen. I love you. She said it over and over again before the line went dead."

    Love is the food of life. And we all deserve to eat and love well. That is why I wrote Love Rules--I felt there was no guide book out there as to how to find it. It nourishes and feeds us, it is the key to happiness. It makes us feel we are alive and without it, little else matters.

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

    Joanna: I have a scalding hot bath every night. I still have the apartment’s original porcelain bath from 1908, it’s very deep and very long and I sink up to my neck and exhale. I love Epsom salts, oils, bubbles, and I lie there in silence and inhale the steam and think through the day. Heaven.

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

    Joanna: Of course! Late nights with friends mean I cancel too many early morning yoga lessons, always set up with the best intentions and promise that this time I won’t cancel. But as much as I love yoga, nothing is better for your long-term health -- not even a restorative headstand -- than a good evening with family and friends.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:05:14 on 2018/02/13 Permalink
    Tags: , love, , spouse, sweetheart, valentines   

    Self-knowledge Can Help You Strengthen Your Romantic Relationships 


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    Valentine’s Day is almost here – and if you’ve been thinking about the relationships in your life, you may be thinking about some questions that I often get: "How do people’s Tendencies play out in romantic relationships? Are any pairings particularly strong – or particularly troubled? Can The Four Tendencies help me improve my relationship?"

    If you don’t know anything about the Four Tendencies – whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel – you can take the free quiz here (more than 1.3 million people have taken it).

    When we first meet someone, we’re often attracted to the very qualities that, over time, will drive us nuts. An Upholder might initially be intrigued by a Rebel’s refusal to play by the rules, and the Rebel may be drawn to the Upholder’s ability to get things done—but five years into the marriage, those qualities look much less attractive.

    For instance, I’m an Upholder, and realizing that my husband Jamie is a Questioner dramatically improved our dealings. One common (ironic, annoying) aspect of the Questioner Tendency is that Questioners often hate to answer questions. Now that I know that fact, I don’t take it personally when Jamie refuses to answer a question. Also, I know I’m more likely to get an answer from him if I explain why I’m asking. "What time are we leaving? Because I’m wondering if I have time to go to the gym."

    So if you know your Tendency and the Tendency of your sweetheart, that knowledge can help you strengthen your relationship, by alleviating resentment, boosting understanding, figuring out how to get things done more efficiently, and minimizing anger.

    So what are some things to keep in mind about the Four Tendencies, in relationships?

    Upholders:

    • They’re self-directed; they get things done on their own and keep to their promises
    • They embrace routine and may struggle to adjust to sudden scheduling changes
    • They can be very committed to meeting inner expectations, even when it’s inconvenient for you—"I know we have guests this weekend, but I need to go for my twelve-mile run." This can make them seem cold
    • They may be judgmental of those who won’t or don’t meet expectations easily
    • They can seem uptight or rigid

    Questioners:

    • They put a high value on reason, research, information, and efficiency
    • They follow an "authority" only if they trust his or her expertise and may reject "expert" opinion in favor of their own conclusions
    • Spouses may become frustrated by Questioners’ persistent questioning
    • Questioners often dislike being questioned themselves
    • They resist anything arbitrary—like "We have to clean the basement this weekend"
    • They can suffer "analysis-paralysis" when they can’t make a decision or move forward because they want more, more, more information
    • When making a request of a Questioner, spouses should include plenty of explanation—"We have to get the car inspected or risk a big fine," not "Because I say so" or "That’s the rule"

    Obligers:

    • They put a high value on meeting commitments to others, however...
    • Obligers readily meet outer expectations but they struggle to meet inner expectations, and while sweethearts sometimes count as "outer," they often count as "inner"—in which case Obligers don’t meet a spouse’s expectation
    • They require supervision, deadlines, monitoring, and other forms of accountability
    • They may have trouble saying "no" or setting limits on others’ demands
    • They may have trouble delegating, because they feel that an expectations attaches to them personally—"I can’t hire someone to mow the lawn; I have to do it myself"
    • Spouses should ensure that the desires and needs of their Obliger spouses get articulated and met, or face the risk of Obliger-rebellion if Obligers feel that they’ve been exploited, neglected, or unheard for too long

    Rebels:

    • They put a high value on freedom, choice, and self-expression; they can do anything they want to do
    • If someone asks or tells them to do something, they’re likely to resist – something like "doctor’s orders" annoy them
    • Rebels can often be manipulated to act out of resistance: "I’ll show you," "Watch me"
    • They may choose to act out of love for you
    • They resist routines, schedules, and repetitive tasks; they like to act spontaneously—"It’s midnight, and now I feel like fixing that door"
    • They resist supervision, advice, nagging, or reminders; when you remind Rebels to do a task, you’re very likely making it less likely that they will do it
    • They’re may resist settling down in a particular house, city, or job
    • To inspire a Rebel to act, it’s most effective to appeal to their identity, or to use information-consequence-choice

    Another common question is "How do the Tendencies pair up? Any particularly good combos or bad combos?"

    Your Tendency is just one narrow slice of your nature. So many elements go into people’s attraction for each other, and the success of a relationship, it’s hard to make too many generalizations. But here are a few:

    • Obligers are "type O" – they pair up the most easily with the other Tendencies.
    • If your sweetheart is a Rebel, you’re probably an Obliger. Rebels almost always pair up with Obligers, whether in romance or at work.
    • The most difficult pairing is Upholder + Rebel. It’s not unheard of, but it’s unusual, and often includes special circumstances. The two types are just very opposite from each other.

    Has understanding the Four Tendencies framework helped make your relationship stronger or more loving? I’d be very interested to hear how it played out in your situation if you feel like adding your comment. If you want to learn more about how to understand yourself and your sweetheart, order a copy of The Four Tendencies.

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:00:23 on 2018/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , love, relatonships,   

    Want to Be Happier in Romance? “Focus on What’s Going Right in the Relationship, Rather than Dwelling on What’s Going Wrong.” 


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    Interview: Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski.

    Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski are the co-authors of a new book, Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts

    They're both positive psychology experts, and they're also married to each other -- very fitting, given their subject! In their book, they use the principles of positive psychology to help people figure out how to create thriving romantic relationships.

    I was very interested to hear what they had to say about happiness, habits, and making more loving relationships.

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

    James: Reading together quietly or playing family games with our adorable seven-year-old son Liam.

    Suzie: Tackling -- or ideally completing -- the New York Times crossword puzzle.

    Gretchen: You’ve highlighted fascinating positive psychology research in your book Happy Together and your Romance & Research workshops you’ve conducted across the world. What has surprised or intrigued you the most?

    In most areas of our lives we understand that it takes hard work to achieve our goals. For example, we don’t just land a job and sit back coasting along thinking it’ll turn into our dream job without effort. Or we don’t buy a gym membership and only go once expecting to have a fitter and more toned body overnight. Instead, we work hard by taking training classes to excel in our career, and training at the gym to help strengthen our body. Yet when it comes to our romantic relationships we seem to think that after meeting our special someone and committing to him or her that “happily ever after” just happens. That’s not the case, except in fairy tales. It’s healthy habits that helps build love over the long term.

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

    Suzie: For optimal health, creativity and productivity having a daily routine that consists of exercise and spending time in nature is crucial for me.  It calms my nerves and helps me to focus better. While I can get by without them, I find that I don’t thrive without these two key habits.

    James: Having a regular sleep schedule and waking early and starting my day with meditation is what makes me feel focused, creative, and productive. These habits are life-fueling. They energize me and provide me with the clarity that I need throughout the day to make the best decisions at work and at home.

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

    One ongoing challenge we have is James’s teaching and speaking schedule. Every few weeks, he teaches weekend classes in the masters program he directs, and he travels frequently to give talks and attend conferences. In light of this schedule, we try to be flexible and plan in advance to figure out how we are going to maintain our healthy habits like regular exercise, reading time, and meditation. One thing we do is try to stay at hotels with gyms or access to outdoor running paths, and we optimize our air time by reading and meditating.

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

    We discovered after getting together that we both had a very similar lightning bolt moment after reading Marty Seligman’s fascinating book Learned Optimism. The book talks about how we have the ability to teach ourselves to choose healthy thoughts, thereby enabling us to choose happiness. The book was what lead each of us on our own individual journey to delve into the science of positive psychology. And it’s what brought us together.

    Gretchen: What is one of the most important habits you recommend in your book to people on how to be “Happy Together?”

    We recommend couples focus on what is going right in the relationship, rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong.  One way to do that is to focus on our partner’s strengths and see your relationship through a lens of strengths. Positive psychology researchers have identified 24 strengths that have been valued across time and cultures that each of us possess to varying degrees. Things like: creativity, zest, love of learning, leadership, kindness, etc. It’s what make us unique. We invite readers to find out what their top five strengths are by taking the free Via Survey that is here on our website.

    Gretchen: How can people actively practice using their strengths every day?

    Once people have discovered their top 5 strengths, commonly referred to as one’s “signature strengths,” we recommend they practice using them in new ways. First, select one of your signature strengths. Next, brainstorm some ways you can use this strength more in your life, and write down a list of specific steps you could take for applying this strength in healthy ways. Use this strength in a new way every day for the next week. Each day, choose a different activity from your list or you could come up with a new idea. The point is to experiment with seven new ways you can use this strength over the course of the week.

    Gretchen: Can you suggest one healthy habit couples can do together to help practice using their strengths?

    We suggest couples go on a “strengths date.” A strengths date is where you pick a top strength of yours (say, zest) and one of your partner’s (say, love of learning). And you organize a date that will enable you each to use your strength. A personal example from our own lives is that we rented Segways to do a guided tour of the historical part of Philadelphia. At the end of the date Suzie’s sense of adventure, or strength of zest, was sated and James’s love of learning was fulfilled.  A mutually satisfying date for both of us! Remember to take turns arranging the dates (or plan them together) -- and the important thing is to have fun while connecting in new ways.

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:13 on 2017/11/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , love, , , , , William Wordsworth   

    Fill in the Blank: “The Best Portion of a Good Man’s Life” Is His _______. 


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    Wordsworth describes his response to remembering beautiful country landscapes when he's in towns and cities:
    ...[O]ft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
    Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
    In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
    Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
    And passing even into my purer mind
    With tranquil restoration:--feelings too
    Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
    As have no slight or trivial influence
    On that best portion of a good man's life,
    His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
    Of kindness and love."
    --William Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798"
    Funny, it's only now that I'm realizing the aptness of "Wordworth's" name. His words are truly worthy! How have I never noticed that before?
    Wordsworth's reflections on this landscape remind me of my resolution to "Find an area of refuge" -- that is, to find a few phrases or memories or scenes that fill me with peace, or exaltation, or good humor. That way, when I find myself spiraling down into boredom, anger, or sorrow, I have an area of refuge. And by doing so, I may make it easier to perform little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.
    Do you have a memory like this?
     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:29 on 2017/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , love, , , ,   

    Podcast 124: Remember Love, Coping with Sad Anniversaries, and Why People Shouldn’t Tell You What You “Should” Be Able to Do. 


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    Happier Podcast 124

    Update: Elizabeth gives a teaser — tomorrow on her other podcast Happier in Hollywood, she and Sarah discuss the highly controversial issue of food in the workplace. Will they discuss the evil donut-bringer? Tune in!

    Try This at Home: Remember love. When someone is bugging us, often we can re-frame the situation by remembering: this person’s annoying behavior is an expression of love.

    Happiness Hack: Use a Ziploc bag instead of a toiletry bag. Cheap, clear, easy to replace, any size, and changes shape to conform to the open space in a suitcase.

    Four Tendencies Tips: Be very wary when someone tells you what you “should be able” to do. That’s often a sign that someone is giving you advice based on their Tendency, which is often not the way that’s right for someone else.

    If you want more information on the Four Tendencies, go here.

    If you want to pre-order my book The Four Tendencies (and it’s a big help to me, if you do), go here.

    Listener Question: Nicole asks about “What’s your advice about dealing with sad anniversaries?” If you have any strategies to suggest, please let us know.

    Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth didn’t “design the summer” for her seven-year-old Jack. I mention the “Strategy of Clarity,” which is very useful to keep in mind.

    Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to Dwight Garner’s new New York Times book column, “American Beauties,” where he writes about under-sung American books from the past 75 years. The novel that Elizabeth mentions after the credits is Soleri by Michael Johnston.

    Two Resources:

    1, As I mention, I have a “book club,” where each month I recommend one book about happiness or human nature; one work of children’s literature; and one eccentric pick (a book that I love, but that’s probably not for everyone). To make sure you never miss a month’s selections, sign up here for the free newsletter.

    2. Speaking of books, if you’d like a free, personalized, signed bookplate for you or for some friends, make your request (within reason). Or if have audio-book or e-book, I’ll send you a free, signed, personalized signature card. Alas, U.S. and Canada only.  To request, email me or go here.

    The September book tour for The Four Tendencies is set! I’ll be going to New York City (obviously), Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.  I hope to see you there — please come, bring friends. Info is here.

    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 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.

    And 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, with free shipping.

    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.

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    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 124: Remember Love, Coping with Sad Anniversaries, and Why People Shouldn’t Tell You What You “Should” Be Able to Do. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

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

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


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    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 23:10:24 on 2017/03/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , love, , , , , ,   

    Podcast 110: A Very Special Episode on a Major Happiness Stumbling Block–Are You Lonely? 


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

    Update: This is the month of #trypod, when we’re all trying to help people discover new great podcasts. And our current producer Kristen Meinzer and our former producer Henry Molofsky are both involved in terrific podcasts.

    In the new podcast By the BookKristen and her co-host comedian Jolenta Greenberg zealously follow the precepts of a particular self-help book, to see if the advice actually works. First up: The Secret. It’s funny, thought-provoking…just terrificBy the Book is part of a pilot project run by Panoply, so you can vote for the podcast to get greenlit here.

    Henry is the producer over at the blockbuster mega-hit Missing Richard Simmons. In 2014, the exercise guru and very public figure Richard Simmons vanished from view. In the six-part series, Dan Taberski tries to figure out what happened. Very suspenseful, and really makes you think about many different issues — the podcast has generated a lot of analysis and discussion. My own view of what happened? Obliger-Rebellion! But listen for yourself.

    Very Special Episode: Loneliness.

    Loneliness is one of the biggest, most serious happiness stumbling blocks out there. One of the keys — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people. The lack of these bonds, even temporarily, is a major happiness stumbling block.

    When we know what kind of loneliness we’re feeling, it’s easier to see possible ways to tackle it. For instance, have you experienced…

    For instance, have you experienced…

    • New-situation loneliness
    • I’m-different loneliness
    • No-sweetheart loneliness
    • No-time-for-me loneliness
    • Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
    • Quiet-presence loneliness
    • No-animal loneliness
    • No-friend-group loneliness
    • I’m-alone-in-this-experience loneliness
    • Parent-of-young-children loneliness/Empty-nest loneliness
    • Everyone-else-is-having-fun loneliness

     

    So what to do about loneliness?

    • Take steps to connect with others (obvious, but important)
    • Show up
    • Revive a dormant friendship. We talked about this in episode 79.
    • Nurture others.

     

    I mention two books that I highly recommend: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily WhiteLonely, a memoir about the author’s own experiences and research into loneliness. Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

    I also mention the immortal line from Russell Hoban’s brilliant picture book A Bargain for Frances: “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?” (If you’d like to read a New York Times piece I wrote about my love for Frances, it’s here.)

    Demerit: Elizabeth skipped a Moms’ Night Out.

    Gold Star: I give a gold star to Eliza and Eleanor for encouraging (nagging?) us as a family to get a dog. Our dog Barnaby makes us very happy.

    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.

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

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

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

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

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

    How to Subscribe

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

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

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

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 110: A Very Special Episode on a Major Happiness Stumbling Block–Are You Lonely? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:40:06 on 2017/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , love, , , , , Valentine's Day   

    For Valentine’s Day: 7 Mistakes That I Keep Making in Romance and 5 Things I Do Right. 


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    In writing The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I thought a lot about what I can do to make my romantic life better.

    In general, I’m a fan of using milestone days to prompt me to think about changes I might undertake to make myself happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative.

    Certain days, such as January 1 or my birthday,  remind me to reflect on my life and my hopes for the future.  Recently, Inauguration Day prompted me to think about the highest ideals of the United States, and how I can live up to them, in my own life.

    And Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to think about my romance!  My husband Jamie is the love of my life, but sometimes I don’t treat him with courtesy or interest. I have to remind myself — don’t be nicer to a stranger on the street than I am to my own husband. (In fact, research shows that married people often show more consideration to others than they do to each other.)

    For instance, I make these relationship mistakes over and over, even though I know I shouldn’t. In the scheme of things, they’re fairly minor (which I’m quick to point out), but they are annoying. And in marriage, it’s good not to be annoying, whenever you can avoid it; marriage is a long, long road.

    7 Mistakes That I Keep Making in Romance

    1. Even though I know it’s rude, I will often read my emails while I talk to my husband on the phone.
    2. I leave my clothes in a heap in a corner of our bedroom, even though I know it gets on his nerves.
    3. I give him a smart-alecky answer when he absent-mindedly asks me the same question more than once, even when it’s just some little thing I could easily answer.
    4. I leave empty diet soda cans scattered around the apartment.
    5. Months ago, for his birthday, he asked if we could get the carpets cleaned as his present, and I told him I’d organize that as my gift, and I haven’t done it.
    6. I haven’t made a doctor’s appointment for myself, even though he really wants me to get a check-up.
    7. I “snap” at him and speak sharply when I get anxious about something — when I fear that we’re running late, when I’m worried about whether we’re following the right parenting strategy, when I’m concerned about some work issue.

    But it’s true that with time and effort, I’ve learned to do a better job in some ways.

    As I write about in Better Than Before, my book about habit change, what we do most days matters more than what we do once in a while. I’ve managed to cultivate these good habits:

    5 Things I Do Right

    1. I give him a warm, attentive “hello” and “good-bye” every time he comes home or leaves the apartment.
    2. I spend a few minutes clearing clutter in the early morning, right before I walk our dog Barnaby, so the apartment looks at least superficially tidy when he emerges in the morning.
    3. I text him funny or interesting updates during the day — pictures of something I see on the street, or Barnaby asleep in my office, or “Five years ago today” “One year ago” photos of our family (I do this so he doesn’t assume that every text or call from me involves an annoying logistical question).
    4. I’ve learned that as a Questioner (as opposed to an Upholder, Obliger, or Rebel), he doesn’t like being questioned, so I refrain from asking many questions that I’d like to have answered: “Where are we going for dinner?” “What time do we need to leave?”
    5. I make the bed on the days when he doesn’t make the bed. I love having the bed made, and so does he.

    Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: a key to happiness is strong relationships, and if we’re in a romantic relationship, it has a big influence on our happiness.

    How about you — what romance mistakes do you repeat, and what good habits have you cultivated?

    The post For Valentine’s Day: 7 Mistakes That I Keep Making in Romance and 5 Things I Do Right. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:34:01 on 2017/01/01 Permalink
    Tags: endurance, love, , , , , Viktor Frankl. quote   

    “The Salvation of Man is Through Love and in Love.” 


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    To usher in the new year of 2017, I wanted to post one of my very favorite passages in all of literature:

    We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

    That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

    A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

    –Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

    If you haven’t read Man’s Search for Meaning, run out and get a copy now.

    The post “The Salvation of Man is Through Love and in Love.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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