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  • feedwordpress 09:00:40 on 2019/04/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , dessert, Emily Luchetti, Erin McHugh, , , Quotes, So Who's Counting   

    Emily Luchetti and Erin McHugh: “We Are Big Believers in Doing at Least One Fun Thing a Day, However Small.” 


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    Interview: Emily Luchetti and Erin McHugh

    How I love quotations—I collect them myself in giant troves, I collect books of quotations, and I love sending out my free daily "Moment of Happiness" newsletter with a terrific quotation about happiness or human nature (sign up here if you'd like to get it).

    So of course I was immediately intrigued by the new book from two friends and authors Emily Luchetti and Erin McHugh. So Who's Counting?: The Little Quote Book About Growing Older and Still Kicking Ass is a book of quotations that remind us that with age comes the opportunity to ask, "What's next? What do I really want? What have I learned the hard way?"

    I couldn't wait to talk to Erin and Emily about happiness, habits, aging, and self-knowledge.

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

    Emily: Exercise. Either a hike or working out at the gym in a TRX/weights class. The former I do on weekends with my husband and a friend. The classes first thing in the morning during the week. I feel more productive, energized, and ready to take on the world once I have gotten my body in gear.

    What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Emily: Don’t worry so much about what other people think. And don’t compare yourself to others. Be your own authentic self. Now that I am older I take many things less personally. I can keep myself and others happy. I don’t have to forfeit what I want over others’ needs.

    Erin: That it isn’t an inalienable right. Happiness is work, and it needs constant attention and upkeep. Feed it and it grows. And that, along with the time to pursue it, happiness is worth more than any commodity on earth.

    You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you—or your readers—most?

    Emily and Erin: What turned out to be a revelation for us while we were working on So Who’s Counting? was getting to delve in and discover more about the people we quoted, not just the quote that ended up on the page. We conferred on every passage in the book—more than once—and researched where each came from, whether it was a speech, a letter, a passage from a book. But in doing so, we went down the most intriguing and rewarding rabbit holes. We found that Julia Child’s family had a cook growing up, and young Julia could have cared less about food. We were reminded about Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War draft, how it caused him to lose all his titles, left him on the sidelines during his best fighting years, but became the beginning of his journey as a humanitarian. How Maya Angelou’s life was burdened by a past as a sex worker, and a childhood in the Jim Crow South. And though these were people we had never met, we found then began to influence us in profound ways.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    Emily: I took the quiz (I love things like this!) and am an Upholder. “I do what others expect of me—and what I expect from myself.” In my younger days only the first part of this sentence would have been true. I took care of others needs and put myself last. A real plus about getting older!

    Erin: I’m a Questioner. By profession I’m a writer and an interviewer: so it’s no surprise that curiosity drives me even when I’m practicing neither!

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

    Erin: Time—especially as one grows older—seems to whiz by. You’ve got to keep it in your grasp! A good calendar with some structured activity, whether it’s yoga, writing, getting together with friends, and whatever else pleases you, is key. Then the distractions don’t seem as...well, distracting. And Emily and I are both big believers in doing at least one fun thing a day, however small.

    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.?

    Emily: When I turned 60, I became aware of time in a good way. It hit home that we each only have one life and should live it to the best—whatever that means to you. For me, it’s a different answer each day. Some days it will be all work, sometimes all play. Sometimes something totally new, sometimes something I have done a zillion times. That’s what makes life exciting. I never really celebrate my birthdays but at 60 I wanted to make a statement to myself and saw it as an opportunity to do something I always thought would be fun but never did, I had a luncheon (cooked by Chef Jonathan Waxman) for about 70 women in the food world. It was electrifying to be in that room. Since then I have tried to make more time for these friendships and connections. We are always all so busy. You need to make a concerted effort to get together. And it’s worth it.

    Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”)

    Emily: “Someday is Today.”

    Erin: Singer Lauren Hill says at the end of one of her songs, “Everything is everything.” From the first time I heard it, I have found it such a valuable reminder for me. It means “Every little thing matters,”  “Every moment counts,” and “Even the tiny things sometimes end up being the thing that makes the difference.”

    Has a book ever changed your life—if so, which one and why?

    Erin: I wrote a book a few years ago called One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better, in which I tried to do just a small, positive thing each day as I went about my business. Almost immediately it clocked the way I looked at the world, and how I approached life on a daily basis. It trained both my head and my heart to be aware, mindful, kinder. I treasure the experience and take myself back to its pages constantly to remind myself that better doesn’t have to be hard.

    In your field, is there a common misperception or incorrect assumption that you’d like to correct?

    Emily: "Never trust a skinny chef." For sure, I know how hard it is to not succumb to sweets. Especially when there are several ten-pound boxes of chocolate on the shelf. But it is possible to enjoy desserts and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about moderation. I started a movement around it called dessertworthy. Pastry chefs like to bake but we also like to exercise, eat veggies, and fit into our jeans. People don’t automatically assume a wine maker is an alcoholic or a pharmacist is a drug addict.

    Erin: Writing a book is never a simple task. It’s long, arduous, vexing...but always rewarding.

    SWC COVER

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:44:19 on 2017/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Quotes, ,   

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


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    “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 07:00:57 on 2017/10/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Quotes,   

    What Is Work, and What Is Play — for You? 


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    “But what is work and what is not work?  Is it work to dig, to carpenter, to plant trees, to fell trees, to ride, to fish, to hunt, to feed chickens, to play the piano, to take photographs, to build a house, to cook, to sew, to trim hats, to mend motor bicycles?  All of these things are work to somebody, and all of them are play to somebody.  There are in fact very few activities which cannot be classed either as work or play according as you choose to regard them.”

    --George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

    What is work for you, and what is play for you? For me, as my play, I usually do something involving writing, which is my work -- I'm not a well-rounded person. I've tried hard to develop non-bookish hobbies, but they never progress very far.

    And sometimes my play becomes my work. I've been doing a tremendous amount of research and note-taking on the subject of my obsessive interest: color. At some point, perhaps I'll try to turn that material into an actual book -- I've even chosen a title, "My Color Pilgrimage." How delightful, but rare, when work and play converge.

    I do love the writing of George Orwell! I've read The Road to Wigan Pier three or four times, and I've re-read some of my favorite Orwell essays -- such as "Reflections on Gandhi," "Charles Dickens," and "Such, Such Were the Joys" -- even more often. Though, oddly, I haven't re-read any of his fiction since high school. (Should I?)

    What is work for you, that might be play to someone else? And what is play for you, that might be work for someone else?

    Of course, conditions matter tremendously. Work that might be enjoyable in some circumstances becomes hideous drudgery in other circumstances.

    And choice matters. It matters if you're doing what you choose to do, when and because you choose to do it. And if you feel that you could do something else, if you wanted to stop.

    And money matters. Getting paid for something influences whether we regard it as work or play. In fact, research suggests that if we reward people to do an activity that they'd otherwise do for play, they may begin to view that activity as work -- and may not want to do it voluntarily. At the same time, we might enjoy doing something for work that we wouldn't choose to do for play. And vice versa.

    What is work, and what is play?

     

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:24 on 2017/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: Leonard Woolf, , , , , Quotes,   

    A Little Happier: It’s Right to Do the Right Thing, Even When It Doesn’t Seem to Matter. 


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    Ever since I read this passage from Leonard Woolf’s memoir, it has haunted me.

    Leonard Woolf was an English political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant, and husband of author Virginia Woolf.

    In The Journey Not the Arrival Matters: Autobiography of 1939-1969, Woolf writes:

    “Looking back at the age of eighty-eight over the fifty-seven years of my political work in England, knowing what I aimed at and the results, meditating on the history of Britain and the world since 1914, I see clearly that I achieved practically nothing…I must have in a long life ground through between 150,000 and 200,000 hours of perfectly useless work….

     

    Though all that I tried to do politically was completely futile and ineffective and unimportant, for me personally it was right and important that I should do it.”

    It’s right to do the right thing, even when it doesn’t seem to make any difference. And we never can really know what the effect of our actions will be – on the world, or on ourselves.

    A lesson that’s very much in keeping with the very title of Woolf’s autobiography: the journey, not the arrival, matters.

    Have you ever poured a lot of time and energy into a project that seemed, in the end, to be futile? Was it right that you made the effort, even if it didn’t seem to pay off?

    This mini-episode is brought to you by the Platinum Card from American Express. There’s a world of experiences waiting to open up with the Platinum Card–backed by the services and security of American Express.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: It’s Right to Do the Right Thing, Even When It Doesn’t Seem to Matter. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:00:56 on 2017/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: , B. J. Novak, , , , , , , Quotes   

    A Little Happier: Actor B. J. Novak’s Memorable Expression of Gratitude to Two Guys from Grade School. 


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    In discussions of happiness, the subject of gratitude comes up all the time. The feeling of gratitude is one of the key elements to a happy life — but it’s all too easy to forget to feel grateful for the basics of our lives, like electricity, or to overlook who and what we should feel grateful for.

    I’m a huge fan of B. J. Novak. He’s an actor, comedian, screenwriter; he founded a terrific app called “li.st” for sharing lists; and he also played the deliciously awful character of Ryan in my family’s all time-favorite TV show, The Office (American version). As if all that wasn’t enough, he also wrote a terrific book of essays, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.

    I always love reading the Acknowledgements section of any book, and in One More Thing, Novak has two pages thanking various people. He concludes with a final paragraph:

    “Josh Funk and Hunter Fraser: we haven’t been in touch in years, but you made me feel like the funniest kid in the world. I would stay up late on school nights to write things to try to make you laugh the next day in class, and you inspired the one piece of advice on writing that I’ve ever felt qualified to give: write for the kid sitting next to you.”

    This beautiful acknowledgement made me think of many things, but in particular, it reminded me that we never know how our actions and our words will affect other people. These two guys! Their enthusiasm may have been a crucial catalyst for Novak’s career.

    And of everyone in his long, successful career that he should thank, he remembered to say thank-you to these two guys from childhood.

    If you were going to write your own Acknowledgments, is there anyone you’d thank, who might be surprised to see himself or herself listed? Is there anyone from way back in childhood? A teacher, a neighbor, a teammate?

     

    It’s strange, and even a little eerie, to think of how we all have so much influence over each other, even when we don’t realize it.

    This mini-episode is brought to you by the Platinum Card from American Express. There’s a world of experiences waiting to open up with the Platinum Card–backed by the services and security of American Express.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: Actor B. J. Novak’s Memorable Expression of Gratitude to Two Guys from Grade School. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:43:13 on 2017/09/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Quotes   

    Fill in the Blank: “The Clearest Indication of Character Is ______.” 


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    “The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable.”  –Goethe

    Agree, disagree?

    What do you find laughable? Have you seen people laugh in situations where you thought it reflected poorly on their characters?

    The post Fill in the Blank: “The Clearest Indication of Character Is ______.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 10:40:32 on 2017/08/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Quotes,   

    Why I Named the Four Tendencies the “Four Tendencies.” 


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    Since college, when I first read it, I’ve been haunted by an observation by Freud, where he notes that the names of the three Goddesses of Fate mean “the accidental within the decrees of destiny,” “the inevitable,” and “the fateful tendencies each one of us brings into the world.

    — Sigmund Freud, The Freud Reader, “The Theme of the Three Caskets.”

    When I read this, it seemed perfectly to distill the three threads of fate.

    The fateful tendencies each one of us brings into the world. Years later, when I was trying to figure out what to name the categories that I’d identified as part of human nature — Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel — I thought back on that passage. So I named my framework the “Four Tendencies.”

    Calling them “fateful” struck me as slightly melodramatic. What do you think? Would that have been a terrific name, or too much?

    The post Why I Named the Four Tendencies the “Four Tendencies.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:40:23 on 2017/08/12 Permalink
    Tags: Julia Child, Julie Powell, , Quotes   

    Agree? “Sometimes, If You Want to Be Happy, You’ve Got to Run Away to Bath and Marry a Punk Rocker.” 


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    “Sometimes, if you want to be happy, you’ve got to run away to Bath and marry a punk rocker. Sometimes you’ve got to dye your hair cobalt blue or wander remote islands in Sicily, or cook your way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, for no very good reason.”

    –Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

    I love all books about year-long projects in self-improvement, and I loved this book. (Side note: it’s surprising just how big this category is.)

    Reading this passage reminded me of a post that I myself wrote several years ago — A Happiness Lesson from Julia Child? — which remains one of my favorite pieces of everything I’ve ever written. I wrote it as a response to reading Child’s wonderful memoir, My Life in France.

    Here’s the final paragraph of that post:

    “Julia Child’s love for French cooking was so contagious that even today, almost fifty years after she wrote her first cookbook, we still feel her influence. I’m not sure whether I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – but enthusiasm certainly helps. What a passionate life Julia Child led! And what a marvelous flavor she left behind.”

    The post Agree? “Sometimes, If You Want to Be Happy, You’ve Got to Run Away to Bath and Marry a Punk Rocker.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:15:07 on 2017/08/07 Permalink
    Tags: , Andy Warhol, , , , , Quotes,   

    A Little Happier: Why Andy Warhol (and I) Want To Have a Boss–on Retainer. 


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    Any Warhol quote

    I agree wholeheartedly with Andy Warhol. Sometimes I wish I had a boss who could tell me what to do, so I wouldn’t have to figure it out myself.

    Often, for me, the toughest part is figuring out what to tell myself to do.

    Here’s the actual quotation, from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), a book I love and have re-read several times:

    When I think about what sort of person I would most like to have on a retainer, I think it would be a boss. A boss who could tell me what to do, because that makes everything easy when you’re working.

    Agree, disagree?

     

    This mini-episode is brought to you by the Platinum Card from American Express. There’s a world of experiences waiting to open up with the Platinum Card–backed by the services and security of American Express.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: Why Andy Warhol (and I) Want To Have a Boss–on Retainer. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

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

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


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    “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.

     
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