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  • feedwordpress 09:00:35 on 2019/05/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , failure, , It's Great to Suck at Something, Karen Rinaldi, self-improvement   

    “Happiness Doesn’t Mean We Are Feeling ‘Happy’ All of the Time.” 

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    Interview: Karen Rinaldi.

    Karen Rinaldi has a double bookish identity. She's worked in the publishing industry for decades, and is now the publisher of Harper Wave, an imprint that she founded.

    She's also a writer herself. She wrote the novel The End of Men, and now she has a new non-fiction book with an absolutely great title and premise: (It's Great to) Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What It Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff that Really Matters.

    She makes the case for why it's great to push yourselves, try new things, and find joy in the pursuit rather than the goal.

    I myself have been trying to tap into this kind of joy during my frustrations at trying to learn to play the ukulele!  (#7 on my "19 for 2019" list).

    I couldn't wait to talk to Karen about happiness, habits, and productivity.

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

    Karen: Surfing!

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

    Karen: Happiness doesn’t mean we are feeling “happy” all of the time. We can be “happy” but still experience sadness, frustration, anger, loneliness—which are all part of what it means to be an open-hearted human. Our attachment to those negative feelings is what gets in the way of our happiness. But respecting those more uncomfortable feelings, making room for them, and not judging them allows us to release them and make room for happiness.

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

    Karen: I don’t know yet what my readers think but what surprised me the most while writing my book was that with every deep inquiry, in much of the research and reading, the philosophy and the science—it all kept leading me back to concepts and questions of the divine. I wasn’t expecting to wind up there at each turn, but it was a beautiful and unexpected journey. I was humbled by humankind’s constant search to understand meaning and to grapple with our mortality. This is as true for physicists as it is for poets, for doctors as it is for philosophers.

    Gretchen: Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit?

    Karen: Yes—I have been able to change a bad habit when I was finally convinced that it was bad (it’s easy enough to lie to ourselves about stuff to keep us at it) and I’ve started new habits with the expectation, understanding, and self-forgiveness that I would fail to uphold it, so that the pressure was eliminated.

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

    Karen: I would consider myself a Rebel, but according to the criteria and the questionnaire, it turns out that I am an Upholder, which I think is funny! It’s probably true and just shows that we like to think of ourselves one way, when we are really something else. Can I be a rebellious Upholder? (Probably not, right?)

    Gretchen: Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?

    Karen: Yes, my tendency to be an Upholder (now I know!) sometimes puts obligations before personal health and happiness. But that said, I’m pretty good at pulling back to focus on what I want, even if it results in actually fulfilling that obligation. I make a habit of asking myself why I am doing something that I might at first resent or resist doing, only to realize that I’m doing it because I want to do it. I make the best decisions when I respect the tension between volition and duty, productivity and rest, and accept that none of it is binary.

    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.?

    Karen: Yes, there are three times specifically in my life when this happened. The first was when I was in my late twenties and struggling with my self-confidence, I was complaining to someone that so-and-so “made me feel stupid.” My friend’s response changed my life. He said, “Karen, no one can make you feel anything.” That one comment gave me agency in my responses to all kinds of things. It still does.

    The second time was when my son was struggling at school—he was eight years old at the time—and a father of one of his classmates said to him, “Rocco, it’s so great to suck at something.” Rocco’s eyes lit up and I think it helped him enormously. I had been five years into my efforts to surf (which I still suck at doing) and John’s comment became my mantra. It allowed me to keep failing but to embrace the joy of it anyway. Rocco became valedictorian of his high school class and I didn’t give up paddling out. That one aha-moment turned into a more than decade-long journey to this book and new way of living for me.

    The third time came with a diagnosis and year-long- everything-gone-wrong battle with breast cancer. I finally understood the age-old wisdom of how “Why me?” is only answered with, “Why not me?” These three experiences were lessons in freedom.

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

    Karen: From Samuel Beckett: “Every tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” That about sums it up for me. Anything is possible in that framework.

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

    Karen: I wouldn’t say that there is a single book that changed my life, but I couldn’t imagine my life without books. As a reader, editor, and writer, books—or, rather, the intimate communion between writer and reader—have helped me in absolutely every single aspect of my life. Books are like oxygen or water—completely essential.

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

    Karen: If my field is publishing and writing, I would say that, like anything else that looks simple from the outside (surfing, for one)—and all those books out there in the world would indicate otherwise—it’s harder than it looks!

  • feedwordpress 16:44:47 on 2016/12/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , intention, , , , , , self-improvement, , ,   

    A Little Happier: What’s Your One-Word Theme for the New Year? 

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    A Little Happier: We’re all getting geared up for 2017, and January 1 is often a prompt that people use to reflect on ways to make life happier in the new year.

    This week’s holiday hack is to choose one word, or a short phrase, to sum up what we want to focus on for the new year. When we distill our aims into a single word or phrase, it’s easier to remember it — and to take action.

    In the past, I’ve picked words and phrases like “Upgrade” and “Lighten Up.” This year, I’m picking “Re-purpose.” I want to tackle the question: How can I make more of what I already have?

    Elizabeth has picked words like “Free Time,” “Style,” “Hot Wheels,” “Novel” — this year, she’s picking “Home.” Her renovation is finally almost finished!

    If this one-word theme “Home” appeals to you, you might enjoy my book Happier at Home — it’s all about how to be (surprise) happier at home.

    In the past, we’ve heard from listeners that they’ve picked terrific, thought-provoking one-word themes like Adventure, Renew, Energize, Travel, Rest, Finish.

    What one-word theme will you choose for 2017?


    Check out LOFT.com — it’s a great go-to spot to pull together modern,  feminine outfits for all your holiday adventures.

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


    Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: What’s Your One-Word Theme for the New Year? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

  • feedwordpress 19:02:46 on 2016/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , framework, , , , , , , self-improvement, , , ,   

    Do You Love Personality Quizzes? These 10 Books Will Help You Understand Yourself. 

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    Books to help you know yourself

    They say there are two kinds of people in the world: people who want to divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind of people who don’t.

    Well, I’m the kind who does. I love personality frameworks. I believe they can be a great tool for self-knowledge — they help shine a spotlight on patterns of behavior and thinking.

    That said, it’s important not to let categories become stifling; they’re not meant to box us in or limit our sense of possibility, but to point the way to helpful understanding or change.

    Of course, my favorite personality framework is the one I created, which divides people into Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. Learn more and take the Quiz here.

    Since Better Than Before hit the shelves, I’ve been thrilled to hear from readers and podcast listeners how much the Four Tendencies has helped them.

    If you love a good personality framework as much as I do, you may be interested in reading other systems:

    1. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.

    Argues that people speak different “love languages”: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I love this book. I’m “Words of Affirmation,” by the way. I still can’t figure out what my husband is! He is a man of mystery.

    2. Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm by Beth Grossman and Janet Burton.

    Argues that in families with an imbalance of family power, parents fall into four categories: Pleasers, Pushovers, Forcers, and Outliers.

    3. The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Ross Hudson.

    Divides people into nine categories: Reformer, Helper, Achiever, Individualist, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger, and Peacemaker. I’ve heard that Hollywood writers use the Enneagram to help them create rich, believable characters.

    4. Why Him, Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love by Helen Fisher.

    Argues that people fall into four relationship types: Explorer, Building, Director, and Negotiator.

    5. Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabella Briggs Meyers.

    Based on the theories of Carl Jung, argues that people fall into sixteen types, in different combinations of four pairs: Extroversion or Introversion; Sensing or Intuition; Thinking or Feeling; Judgment or Perception. This super-popular framework is controversial, but many people swear by it.

    6. Please Understand Me by David Keirsey.

    Divides people into four temperament groups, with four sub-types per groups: Artisan (Promoter, Crafter, Performer, Composer), Guardian (Supervisor, Inspector, Provider, Protector), Rational (Fieldmarshal, Mastermind, Inventor, Architect), and Idealist (Teacher, Counselor, Champion, Healer).

    7. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.

    Discusses the thirty-four “strengths” and helps readers identify and take advantage of their own strengths.

    8. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

    Discusses the thirty-four “strengths” and helps readers identify and take advantage their individual own strengths.

    9. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

    Of course, I have to add my own book to the list! Find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, and how you can put that knowledge to use as you work on your habits. Or, even more fun, how you can help other people work on their habits. The Four Tendencies are useful to understand in the context of habits — but also, in many other contexts as well. Right now, in fact, I’m working on a book that explores the Four Tendencies at length. If you want to be notified when it’s available, sign up here.

    People often ask me how the Four Tendencies framework correspond to other frameworks — for instance, how it matches up with Myers-Briggs. In my view, all these frameworks have their own nuances, which are lost if we try to map one framework onto another. So I don’t try to do that.

    10.The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

    Many people have also told me that my book, The Happiness Project was also a meaningful tool for self-knowledge as they embarked on their own Happiness Project. Especially the “Be Gretchen” idea from my personal commandments.

    Has one of these frameworks been very helpful to you? What frameworks have I overlooked?

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