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  • feedwordpress 07:00:58 on 2018/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , Dalai Lama, , , hepatitis c, Oprah, , , quitting sugar, ,   

    A Question I’m Often Asked: What’s Changed in My Life Since “The Happiness Project” Was Published? 

    Zoikes, it’s hard to believe that almost a full decade has passed since The Happiness Project first hit the shelves. In many ways, my life is much the same—and of course, many things have changed as well. The Tenth Anniversary edition is on shelves today. Order a copy here.

    By far the most important thing that happened was that my husband Jamie’s hepatitis C was cured—a medical miracle.

    As I write about in The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Jamie got hepatitis C from a blood transfusion during a heart operation when he was eight years old. You really don’t want to have hepatitis C; eventually, it destroys your liver. Jamie tried many treatments over the years, but nothing worked.

    When a new treatment was approved, Jamie went on it right away, and as of January 9, 2015 (a date we celebrate every year), Jamie was cured. You can read more about it in my post "Today is one of the happiest days of my life. Here’s why."

    Brief service announcement: If you support organ donation, sign the registry at organdonor.gov, tell your family that you’d want to donate your organs, or post a message with #organdonor.

    Other big news: My older daughter Eliza is now off at college! That was a big family milestone. Here's the advice I gave her when she left.

    After much discussion and pleading, my family got a dog, a delightful black cockapoo named Barnaby. If you want to hear me talk about this decision, Elizabeth and I discuss it in episodes 24 and 27 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.

    Speaking of the Happier podcast, launching the podcast has been one of my favorite undertakings from the last ten years. My co-host is my sister Elizabeth Craft, the TV writer and producer who lives in Los Angeles, and together we talk about happiness, habits, and human nature. We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much! We’ve had so many terrific sisterly adventures together because of the show.

    I quit sugar, and really, almost all carbs. (If you want to know more about this change, I write about it in my book Better Than Before.)

    Since The Happiness Project came out, I’ve written four additional books: Happier at Home, Better Than Before, The Four Tendencies, and Outer Order, Inner Calm. (Plus I’ve written My Color Pilgrimage, but it’s still in the manuscript stage.)

    In The Happiness Project, I write about starting a children’s literature reading group. Well, that group got so big that I started a second group, and now even a third group. Yes, I’m in three kid-lit reading groups, and these groups are a giant engine of happiness for me.

    A big personal highlight was getting interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. She recorded the interview at her home in Montecito, so I got to visit "The Promised Land," and I also got to bring my sister Elizabeth with me, on a terrific sisterly adventure. Oprah is so...Oprah. In person, she’s exactly the way I’d imagined her to be. (You can listen to the interview here.)

    Another highlight was meeting the Dalai Lama. In fact, at the end of our meeting, we needed to walk to the other end of the conference center in the rain, so he grabbed my arm to help him stay steady—yes, I walked arm in arm with the Dalai Lama.

    I had dinner with Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman—he’s notable for his work on the psychology of judgment, decision-making, and behavioral economics, subjects that fascinate me. He’s the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, among countless other accomplishments, and a person I was thrilled to meet.

    One very fun thing that happened—though I had nothing to do with it—was that "The Happiness Project" was an answer on the gameshow Jeopardy!

    Less flashy, but very gratifying, was that my personality framework of "Four Tendencies" was written up in a scientific journal.

    I’ve been on the cover of a few magazines. That’s surreal.

    I’ve also created several interesting projects. One-sentence journals, habit journals, mugs, Page-a-Day calendars, 21 Day Projects—I even designed a coloring book.

    My blog (which I now call my "site," because the very word "blog" seems old-fashioned) has been going strong for more than a decade. To celebrate the tenth anniversary, I created an e-book, The Best of the Happiness Project Blog—that was a lot of fun to put together.

    I started "Ask Gretchen Rubin Live," a weekly show on Facebook. It’s great to get a chance to talk about happiness, habits, and human nature with people in real time.

    I launched the free "Better" app to help people make their lives happier, healthier, more productive and more creative—just search "Better Gretchen Rubin" in the app store. It’s a place where you can join discussions, ask questions, weigh in, and form accountability groups.

    I also created my first video course to help more people harness the power of the Four Tendencies.

    Of everything I’ve written in the last ten years, I think my one-minute video "The Years Are Short" resonates most with people. It was a truth that I felt deeply at the time that I wrote The Happiness Project, and I feel it more deeply with every passing year. The days are long, but the years are short.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:00:35 on 2018/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , Dolly Parton, , interests, , Oprah   

    Assay: Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey Discuss…Hubris. 

    Assay: One of my favorite things about myself is that I often get hit by epiphanies or obsessions. Discovering a new obsessive interest is one of my great joys in life.

    I just got struck by a new obsession, and what a joy it is to explore this subject. Dolly Parton. All of a sudden, I just can’t learn enough about Dolly Parton. And I’m not even a huge fan of music – her music or anyone’s music. I’m fascinated by her life and character.

    For that reason, I spent quite a bit of time the other day watching her old TV interviews on YouTube.

    In my writing (and thinking and reading), my subject is human nature. Why do we do what we do? How can we change? How are people alike, and different, from each other?

    One question I often ponder is: Why do some people who achieve stardom bend under that pressure, and succumb to its pressures and temptations in destructive ways? And why do other people seem to be able to withstand that pressure?

    One answer is "character."

    But that just raises the question – what aspect of character? Inborn qualities, beliefs, habits, relationships, experiences, what combination protects certain people?

    Because I’ve thought a lot about this question, I was particularly interested in this exchange between Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey, on The Oprah Winfrey Show in April 1992. (Wow, that’s 26 years ago.)

    Dolly Parton: I feel so lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to make a good living at what I love to do. I always wanted to sing, I always wanted to be a star, I always wanted to be out with the people, and I’m getting to do that. And I’m getting to enjoy doing that. I think we’re all born, we wonder who we are, what we’re doing here, it’s the same old thing, all through history, who are we, who am I...

    Oprah Winfrey: Same old thing! You’re wondering who you are.

    ...

    Oprah Winfrey: [Don’t you think] that one of the reasons that you are where you are, and I am where I am, those of you [pointing to audience] are where you are, is because you believed you could be here?

    Dolly Parton: It’s faith. I think you have to work very hard...There’s a certain amount of luck, too...I used to not realize how lucky I had been. I was always grateful and humble, but I always have worked very hard, too. But I see so many people that have twice the talent that I have, that maybe came to Nashville at the same time I did, they write better songs, they sing better, but there’s just something—where the timing’s not right—so I think there’s a certain element of luck in that. But I think that people can do a lot with what they’ve got, if they just had the faith. I mean, so much of it is faith and belief. I think one has to be careful not to get arrogant with that faith, because I think, you know, if you don’t humble yourself, God will do it for you.

    Oprah Winfrey: Absolutely. And when God does it, it will bring you to your knees.

    I found this fascinating. Hubris! I wish that these two mega-starts had spent much more time exploring their thoughts and their experiences on this subject. I wish that Oprah Winfrey had asked, "Dolly, what do you mean by ‘humble?’"

    A few minutes later in the interview Dolly Parton talks about being "a servant to the people." Is that what she means? She certainly has done many things to be a servant to the people, generally in her performances, and particularly to improve the lives of the people in the Great Smoky Mountains where she grew up. Or does she mean something else?

    Well, maybe I’ll learn more as my obsession continues.

    If you’d like to watch this interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show yourself, here’s the interview. This discussion happens around 16:50.

     
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