Tagged: Quotation Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • gretchenrubin 11:00:32 on 2018/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Quotation, , Stephen McCauley,   

    Have You Invoked Any of These Loopholes to Let Yourself Off the Hook? 

    I've very happy: I've discovered a new novelist whose work I love. I just finished Stephen McCauley's new book My Ex-Life, and I plan to work my way through all his novels. It's such a treat to discover a new writer.

    One of the many things that interested me in My Ex-Life was the depiction of the main character Julie's thoughts about smoking marijuana.

    Julie is getting a divorce from Henry, renting out rooms in her house on Airbnb, and the parent of a teenager. She smokes more pot than she should.

    As part of my work for Better Than Before, my book on how we make or break habits, I became very interested in the Strategy of Loophole-Spottinghow do we spot the loopholes that we invoke to let ourselves off the hook, when we want to indulge in a habit that we know we shouldn't?

    Julie is a master of loopholes. Do any of these justifications sound familiar?

    "She pulled out a joint. Anxiously awaiting for Henry to berate her wasn't doing anyone any good, and since she'd stopped smoking pot, it mattered less if she occasionally got stoned. Her slips were meaningless, parenthetical."

    "Rain was predicted for tomorrow, so why not enjoy the lovely evening in a calm frame of mind? Weather was a useful excuse for so many things in life."

    "She sat in the chair next to him...and pulled out a joint. 'Don't judge me,' she said. 'I stopped smoking a while ago, but I keep a little around to prove to myself I don't need it.'"

    The tricky thing about loopholes is that we often invoke them without even realizing it—we let ourselves off the hook so fast and with such confidence that we don't feel the pain of breaking our word to ourselves.

    By contrast, when we consciously realize that we're invoking a loophole, we're more able to resist.

    Eventually, Julie stops smoking pot.

    There are ten categories of loopholes, and most of us have a few favorites that we deploy most frequently.

    I most often invoke the false-choice loophole and the one-coin loophole. How about you?

    If you'd like to learn more about loophole-spotting, and about habit-formation in general, check out my book Better Than Before, where I describe the twenty-one strategies we can use to make or break our habits. (Can't resist mentioning: it was a New York Times bestseller.) You can learn more about the book here.

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:55:19 on 2018/02/24 Permalink
    Tags: , Francoise Gilot, Matisse, Quotation, ,   

    Secret of Adulthood: I’m Unique, Just Like Everyone Else. 

    In her memoir Life with Picasso, Francoise Gilot quoted Matisse:

    As Matisse said, "When I look at a fig tree, every leaf has a different design. They all have their own manner of moving in space; yet in their own separate ways, they all cry, 'Fig tree.'"

    It's one of my Secrets of Adulthood: I'm unique, just like everyone else.

    Do you have any favorite memoirs to recommend? I'm in the mood to read a really terrific memoir. Maybe I'll finally read James Boswell's London Journal.

     

     

     
  • gretchenrubin 19:01:53 on 2018/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , Quotation, ,   

    Agree: Even One Task Fulfilled at Regular Intervals…Can Bring Order into Life as a Whole. 

    "Even one task fulfilled at regular intervals in a man's life can bring order into his life as a whole; everything else hinges upon it. By keeping a record of my experiences I live my life twice over. The past returns to me. The future is always with me."

    -- The Journal of Eugene Delacroix

    Agree, disagree?

    How I love this book!

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:38:24 on 2017/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Quotation, ,   

    Beautiful Color! Coral and Apple-Green and Lavender and Faint Orange, and Indian Blue. 

    From F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby:

    Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.

    “I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.”

    He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

    “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

    As soon as I started writing about color, I looked up this passage from The Great Gatsby. It's one of my favorite passages about color.

    The question, of course, is -- why is Daisy crying?

    If you know any other beautiful passages describing color, please let me know. Color obsession continues!

     
  • gretchenrubin 13:15:01 on 2017/12/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , Edna St. Vincent Millay, Quotation,   

    Ever Get the Feeling that You Just Can’t Contain the Beauty of the World? 

    O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
       Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
       Thy mists, that roll and rise!
    Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
    And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
    To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
    World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
    Long have I known a glory in it all,
             But never knew I this;
             Here such a passion is
    As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
    Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
    My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
    No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
    -- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "God's World"
     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:52 on 2017/11/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , Quotation, ,   

    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 12:44:19 on 2017/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , Quotation, , ,   

    Working Is One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Procrastination–18th Century Style. 

    “Idleness is often covered by turbulence and hurry. He that neglects his known duty and real employment naturally endeavours to crowd his mind with something that may bar out the remembrance of his own folly, and does any thing but what he ought to do with eager diligence, that he may keep himself in his own favour."

    --Samuel Johnson, Selected Writings, "Idler no. 31," November 18, 1758

    One of my Secrets of Adulthood is: "Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination." I got a kick out of seeing one of my favorite authors, Dr. Johnson, express the same notion in his inimitable, eighteenth-century style.

    Agree, disagree?

     

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:47 on 2017/11/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Quotation, , Scarlett Thomas   

    Which Do You Prefer? “Simple Beauty with No Explanation, or Knowing Exactly How and Why?” 

    'You know, I haven't been able to look at flowers the same way since I learnt about the Fibonacci sequence,' Violet says, stroking the pink daisies with her thin white hand as we walk along the wall. 'I don't know which is better: simple beauty with no explanation, or knowing exactly how and why seed pods are organized.'

    --Scarlett Thomas, PopCo

    This comment reminded me of the conversation Elizabeth and I had on episode 105 of the "Happier" podcast, about the question of "Do you prefer childlike wonder or adultlike wonder?"

    Which do you prefer? I prefer adultlike wonder, myself. The more I know about something, the more I enjoy and appreciate it.

    How I love the novels of Scarlett Thomas! I'm working my way through everything she's written. I can't recommend her work highly enough. It's thrilling to discover a new author.

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

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

    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 14:00:53 on 2017/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , Chuck Palahniuk, , Quotation, ,   

    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?

     
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