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  • gretchenrubin 12:00:50 on 2018/07/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , knowledge, Secrets of Adulthood   

    25 Secrets of Adulthood that I’ve Learned the Hard Way. 


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    With time and experience, life teaches us all lessons. I keep a running list of my "Secrets of Adulthood" -- the things I've learned, the hard way. (For instance, here are my Secrets of Adulthood for Habits.)

    I write about these in my books, I talk about them in my podcast "Happier," I think about them all the time. There's something about distilling an idea or observation into a proper "Secret of Adulthood" that makes it easier for me to remember.

    1. What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.
    2. For the most part, I'm very much like other people, but our differences are very important.
    3. Hell is other people; Heaven is other people.
    4. Every medicine can become poison. (Email, caffeine, social media, work, treats...)
    5. I manage what I monitor. So if something's important to me, I should figure out a way to monitor it.
    6. Never let myself get too hungry, too sleepy, or too cold. And never pass up the chance to use a bathroom.
    7. I bring my own weather to the picnic.
    8. Just because something is important to me doesn't mean that it's important to someone else.
    9. A stumble may prevent a fall. This relates to the Strategy of Safeguards in my book Better Than Before.
    10. One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself. This is one of my Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness.
    11. Outer order contributes to inner calm. I'm finishing up a little book with this title. Stay tuned.
    12. I can't expect to be motivated by motivation. This realization was a big inspiration for my forthcoming book The Four Tendencies.
    13. It's easier to change my circumstances than to change myself.
    14. Things often get harder before they get easier.
    15. The things that go wrong often make the best memories. My mother told me this, to calm me down before my wedding weekend.
    16. Choose the bigger life.
    17. Turning a computer on and off often fixes a glitch.
    18. When I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. This relates to the fun and helpful Strategy of Treats.
    19. What's fun for other people might not be fun for me--and vice versa.
    20. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Cribbed from Voltaire.
    21. Now is now. I write about this in the conclusion of my book Happier at Home -- which, I must say, is one of the best things I've written in my whole life.
    22. If I need to remember something, write it down. How many times have I regretted remembering this Secret of Adulthood?
    23. Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.
    24. There is no wizard. (I will explain this in an upcoming episode of "A Little Happier.")
    25. The days are long, but the years are short.

    What are your Secrets of Adulthood? I'd love to add many more to my list!

     
  • feedwordpress 18:10:29 on 2016/09/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , office-mates, , Secrets of Adulthood,   

    7 Tips for Clearing Clutter in the Office. 


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    Clearing Office Clutter

    One of my Secrets of Adulthood is: Outer order contributes to inner calm.  And that’s just as true at the office as it is at home.

    True, in the context of a happy life, a messy desk or a box of files on the floor is a trivial problem—yet I’ve found, and other people tell me they feel the same way, that getting control of the stuff of life makes me feel more in control of my life generally. And if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.                               

    When I’m surrounded by a mess, I felt restless and unsettled; when I clean up a mess, I’m always surprised by the disproportionate energy and cheer I gain—plus, I’m able to find my stapler.

    Here are some ways to fight clutter at the office:

     1. Never label anything “Miscellaneous.”

     

    2. Abandon a project.

    One source of office clutter is stuff related to unfinished projects. You’ve always meant to learn that software program. You were going to switch to using a different kind of planner.  You were going to review that proposal. But that stuff has been sitting in your office for months, maybe years, and it hasn’t been used. Be honest with yourself. If you’re not going to complete that project, abandon it — and get the stuff off your shelves, and off your conscience.

    3. Beware of freebies, swag, and give-aways.

    Yes, you went to that conference, and they gave you a branded mug, t-shirt, metal water-bottle, journal, pen, and an eraser in the shape of a cow. But if you don’t have a clear plan to use these things, they’re clutter — and the best way to deal with that clutter? Don’t accept those freebies in the first place.

    4. Don’t get organized.

    When you’re facing a desk swamped in papers,  don’t say to yourself, “I need to get organized.” No! Your first instinct should be to get rid of stuff. If you don’t keep it, you don’t have to organize it. You can spend a lot of time filing papers that you don’t even need to keep—and one of the biggest wastes of time is to do a chore well that need not be done at all. (See also #7.)

    5. Establish ownership. This is a particular problem at the office.

    Often, clutter sticks around because it’s not clear who owns it– those aren’t your files, and no one seems to know why they’ve been in the hallway for two years, but how can you throw them away? If you encounter something that you think is clutter, take the time to ask around and find out if anyone wants it. It’s surprising how often things go unclaimed. Relatedly…

    6. Beware the tragedy of the messy commons.

    When several people use one area, and no one person is responsible for keeping order, people tend to become messy and careless. Establish some system—for instance, by taking turns, assigning people to oversee specific areas, or enforcing the expectation that people mind their own messes—for making it clear who’s responsible for any disorder. This is related to the painful truths about shared work.

    7. Toss unnecessary papers.

    Paperwork is one of the toughest forms of clutter to vanquish.  Ask yourself: Have I ever used this paper? Could I easily replace it, if it turns out I need it? Is this information on the internet (e.g., manuals)? What’s my reason for keeping it? Does it become dated quickly (travel materials)? What’s the consequence of not having it if I do need it? Could I scan it, so I can keep it as a reference but get rid of the physical paper?

    NOTE: Outer order contributes to inner calm — for most people. But not for everyone.

    Some people thrive on disarray; they find it stimulates their ideas and doesn’t slow them down. It’s probably related to being an abundance-lover instead of a simplicity-lover.

    Some people are just clutter-blind. They simply don’t see the clutter. It doesn’t affect them for better or worse. They just don’t see it.

    Different levels of clutter-acceptance can lead to conflict, because the people who love order tend to try to badger the disorder-tolerant people into cleaning up. I always remind myself, “There’s no right way or wrong way, just the way that works for a particular person.”

    As part of my “Design my summer” project ( you can hear me talk about it on the Happier podcast), I wrote a little book called “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” I’m just finishing it up now. It was so fun to write that book! So if you have any great tips about clearing clutter — at the office or at home — I’d love to hear them, to see if there’s anything I’ve overlooked.

    What are your great clutter-clearing tips?

    The post 7 Tips for Clearing Clutter in the Office. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 12:27:07 on 2016/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , Dr. Seuss, , , , , , , , , , Secrets of Adulthood,   

    A Little Happier: Important Lesson from Dr. Seuss–It’s Fun to Have Fun, But You Have to Know How. 


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    catinhatjuggling

    The Cat in the Hat said it, and it’s a truth that I feel more deeply with every year that passes: It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how — and that may take some serious reflection.

    Research shows that the absence of “feeling bad” doesn’t mean that we “feel good.” We must actually strive to find sources of “feeling good.” Having fun on a regular basis is a pillar of happiness.

    As you ask yourself, “How can I have more fun?” keep two things in mind:

    1. Be honest about what’s actually fun for you. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for you, and vice versa. Wine-tasting, skiing, baking bread, reading mysteries—I personally do not enjoy any of these “fun” activities. They’re fun for some people; not for me. Don’t try to be self-improving, and don’t plan a “fun” event based on what other people would enjoy. Make time for something that’s fun for YOU.

    2. Do have real fun. I often feel so overwhelmed by tasks that I think, “The most fun would be to cross some items off my to-do list. I’d feel so much better if I could get something accomplished.” In fact, though, I just make myself feel trapped and drained. If I take time to do something that’s truly fun for me (re-read All the King’s Men for the fourth time, call my sister), I feel better able to tackle that to-do list.

    In case Dr. Seuss hasn’t convinced you, I’ll also invoke Samuel Butler:

    “One can bring no greater reproach against a man than to say that he does not set sufficient value upon pleasure, and there is no greater sign of a fool than the thinking that he can tell at once and easily what it is that pleases him. To know this is not easy, and how to extend our knowledge of it is the highest and most neglected of all arts and branches of education.”

    An example from my own life: I always knew that I found it fun to read children’s and young-adult literature, but I never paid much attention to that passion; when I made this activity a major pastime, by acknowledging what I found fun and starting three kidlit reading groups, instead of pushing it to the corners of my life, I dramatically ramped up the fun I got from it. (Read about these groups in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.)

    How about you? Have you ever had trouble finding fun, or making time for fun? It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.

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

     

    Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: Important Lesson from Dr. Seuss–It’s Fun to Have Fun, But You Have to Know How. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:22:02 on 2016/05/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Secrets of Adulthood, self-acceptance, , W.H. Auden   

    A Little Happier: Accept Myself, and Expect More from Myself. 


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    It’s time for the latest A Little Happier.

    It’s a Secret of Adulthood: I want to accept myself, and expect more from myself.

    Here, again, are those quotations I read:

    In The Dyer’s Hand, in the essay “Reading,” W.  H. Auden wrote: “Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrown and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”

    In a 1961 letter included in the collection The Habit of Being, Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”

    If you want to read more about my struggle to start driving again, I write about it in Happier at Home.

    If you want to sign up for the “Moment of Happiness,” the daily quotation about happiness, habits, and human nature, sign up here.

    Thanks to my terrific sponsor: Squarespace. Start building your website and get your free trial today.  Go to Squarespace.com, and enter the offer code “happier” to get 10% off your first purchase.

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

     

    The post A Little Happier: Accept Myself, and Expect More from Myself. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:10:45 on 2016/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: , choice, , graduate school, law school, medical school, Secrets of Adulthood, , ,   

    Can You “Drift” Your Way into Graduate School? Oh Yes. 


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    Should I go to graduate school?

    From time to time, I write about “drift.” Drift is the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.

    You want to dodge a fight with the people around you, or you want to please them, or you want to avoid a struggle with self-doubt or uncertainty.

    In my case, I drifted into law school.

    If you want to hear me talk about drift, and tell my law-school story, you can watch it here.

    You can also take the popular quiz, Are You Drifting?

    Because I think drift is so important, I made a vow to myself that I’d raise the issue anytime I spoke to students — high school, undergraduate, or graduate.  And the issue always strikes a chord.

    For instance, each year I speak to a group of first-year medical students, and it turns out that medical students can be subject to drift. Initially, this surprised me, because I thought, “Medical school is so hard, and so specific, and takes so much time and money. No one would drift into med school.”

    But no! It happens. People think, “My mother and father are both doctors, so I should be a doctor.” Or “I’m good at math and science, people keep telling me I should become a doctor.” They can do it, and they don’t know what else to do, so they move forward. That’s drift.

    So I was very interested, but not surprised, to see this piece by Tatiana Schlossberg in the New York Times, about the Sauermann and Roach study “Why Pursue the Postdoc Path?

    Schlossberg writes:

    “Doctoral students in the sciences are more like the rest of us than previously thought: They don’t know what they want to do with their lives, either…The authors [of the study found] evidence that many students pursued postdocs as a default option after graduate school, or as part of a ‘holding pattern’ until the job they wanted was available. The authors…conclusively demonstrated the need for more career planning among graduate students, and that graduate students should consider their career paths before they even begin a Ph.D. program.”

    In other words, these students drifted into graduate work without a clear plan for why they were there.

    The word “drift” has overtones of laziness or ease. Not true! Drift is often disguised by a huge amount of effort and perseverance. Just because you’re working hard — I’m sure those graduate students are working hard — is no guarantee that you’re not drifting.

    Here’s another complication. I drifted into law school, and in the end, I’m happy I did go to law school. Sometimes drift does make you happy. But don’t count on it.

    One of my drift-related Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” And here’s another one: “Approval from the people we admire is sweet, but it’s not enough to be the foundation of a happy life.

    Have you ever found yourself drifting? How did you start, how did you end it — or not?

    The post Can You “Drift” Your Way into Graduate School? Oh Yes. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:33:16 on 2016/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Secrets of Adulthood, ,   

    A Little Happier: Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good. 


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    It’s a Secret of Adulthood — admittedly, cribbed from Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.1pix

    Be Gretchen! Just in time, I remembered not to let the perfect, fantasy Gretchen crowd out the actual, real Gretchen (who really dislikes making those kinds of plans).

    Along the same lines, I remind myself that the 20-minute walk I take is better than the 3-mile run I never start; having people over for take-out is better than never having people to an elegant dinner party.

    Have you faced this, in your own experience — where the perfect can interfere with the good?

     

    Thanks, as always, to my terrific sponsor: Audible. Audible has more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio products. Get a free 30-day trial at Audible.com/happier.  Your first book is free!

    In fact, for your free book, you can choose one of my books, Better Than Before or The Happiness Project. I’m the reader for both of them.

    GretchenReadingAudiobookHere’s a photo of me recording Better Than Before. That pillow? It’s to muffle “stomach noises.” Sheesh!

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

     

    Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:02:12 on 2016/04/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Secrets of Adulthood   

    A Little Happier: Tell Me What You Want for Dinner. 


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    Spaghetti_and_Meatballs

    It feels like a paradox: sometimes, by being more demanding, we’re more giving. Being very specific about what we want allows others to revel in the pleasure of giving.

    I hope you’re enjoying the new mini-episodes. I love doing them.

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

     

    The post A Little Happier: Tell Me What You Want for Dinner. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:46:45 on 2016/03/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Secret of Adulthood, Secrets of Adulthood   

    A Little Happier: Stressed? Try This. 


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    ShelfPhyllisRose

    It’s a Secret of Adulthood, and one that never fails me: When I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself.

    What are your healthy treats? We should all load ourselves with healthy treats! (Pictured: my idea of a healthy treat. Not for everyone, but works for me.)

    I hope you’re enjoying the new mini-episodes. I love doing them.

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

     

    The post A Little Happier: Stressed? Try This. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:09:07 on 2016/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , enthusiasm, , , , , , , Secrets of Adulthood, ,   

    For Podcast Listeners, Something New! First Mini-Episode to Make You “A Little Happier.” 


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    A Little Happier - New mini epsiodes

    My sister Elizabeth and I are having so much fun doing our weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    And I’ve found that there are some powerful ideas about happiness, good habits, and human nature that don’t quite fit the structure of the show.

    So, for listeners who’d like to start their weeks with a little boost of happiness, I’ve started doing “A Little Happier.”

    Each Monday, I’ll release a little bonus episode — maybe 2-3 minutes long — to help launch the week.

    I’ve always been intrigued about how much we love stories, and in the end, how we learn best from stories, so these “A Little Happiers” will feature a story from my life, or something I’ve read or observed, that make a point about happiness. They’ll often feature one of my “Secrets of Adulthood” — the things I’ve learned, with time and experience, about how to be happier.

    I love all teaching stories, koans, parables, aphorisms, maxims, epigrams, proverbs, and the like. A Little Happier is another way to explore the power of story and aphorism.

    I hope these mini-episodes will help you start your week…a little happier. Let me know what you think!

    The post For Podcast Listeners, Something New! First Mini-Episode to Make You “A Little Happier.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:57:53 on 2016/02/25 Permalink
    Tags: altruism, others, , Secrets of Adulthood, selfishness, selflessness   

    Be Selfless, If Only for Selfish Reasons. Be Selfish, If Only for Selfless Reasons. 


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    From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons; be selfish, if only for selfless reasons.

    This is a variation of my Second Splendid Truth about Happiness:

    One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
    One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

    I have Eight Splendid Truths, in all. (I was inspired by the numbered lists that pop up throughout Buddhism: the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the eight auspicious symbols, I decided to dub my fundamental happiness principles as my Eight Splendid Truths. ) You can read them all here.

    What do you think? Agree, disagree?

     

    The post Be Selfless, If Only for Selfish Reasons. Be Selfish, If Only for Selfless Reasons. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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