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  • Crystal Ellefsen 15:09:47 on 2018/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , inteview, Morten Hansen, , time,   

    “The Data Revealed a Big Surprise: Top Performers Do Less.” 

    Interview: Morten Hansen.

    Morten Hansen is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the co-author with Jim Collins of the book Great by Choice and also the author of Collaboration, and he has a new book that's just hitting the shelves, Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.

    Morten has done a lot of thinking about how people do their best work and live their happiest lives, so I couldn't wait to hear his insights about happiness, habits, and productivity.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit or activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Morten: One of the things I have always done is to celebrate milestones, even the small ones, with my wife and kids. When I got an academic paper accepted in a prestige journal, I would open a bottle of champagne with my wife and have a toast, to mark the milestone but also to give thanks for her support. When I finished my last book, I took my family out to dinner and thanked them. We do this for their milestones too. Some of these are small markers, perhaps, but it’s great to pause for a moment in our hectic lives, celebrate a bit, and express gratitude. I believe we don’t celebrate enough at work. It’s an easy thing to do.

    You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or other people -- most?
    In my new study published in my book Great at Work, I set out to answer a deceptively simple question: why do some people perform better at work than others? I developed a data set of 5,000 managers and employees from across corporate America to find answers. The data analysis revealed a big surprise to me and to many others; top performers do less. We live in a world where we strive to do more to succeed: we take on more assignments, go to more meetings, fly around, network more, get online 24/7, and so on, yet we don’t pause to ask, is this the best way to work? It turns out, it isn’t. That’s an uncomfortable piece of news to many, including myself: I do more and stress to get it all done, believing it is the road to success—yet it isn’t. Of course, the good news is that we can change that and perform better, and have better lives, too.

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

    When I started out working, I joined the Boston Consulting Group in London as a 24-year old. I had no real prior experience, so I came up with a great formula to succeed: I would work crazy hours. I put in 70, 80 and even 90 hours per week. I did rather well, being promoted up the ranks of the company. I discovered that some colleagues who also did well (and some better than me) worked fewer hours, but I just couldn’t figure out what they did, so I brushed it off and kept those long hours. Of course, it took a toll on my relationship with my fiancée (who, luckily, stuck with me). Now, a few decades later, I have discovered how foolish I was. I had fallen into the trap of believing that each extra hour worked improves output, and that’s not the case.

    The results from my new research show that the relationship between hours worked and performance is an inverted U: you perform much better when you go from 30 to 50 hours per week on average (slacking off at 30 is no good), performance only goes up a little bit by going from 50 to 65 hours, and it DECLINES from 65 hours onwards. So my “brilliant” strategy of piling on 70 and 80 hours a week was most likely a dismal failure. Uggh. It hurts even today to think back on all that wasted time (and life). But I have learned from my data. I have created what I call the “50-hour work week” rule: Work about 50 hours per week (which is hard work), but no more. My true lesson for a good work habit: it’s HOW you work—and not how hard—that matters.

    Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    I am a “do more” type of person. By that I mean that I take on many assignments, say “yes” to too many things, and then I work hard—and stress—to get it all done. Many people work like that. First off, it doesn’t lead to the best results, as I said. But it also makes me less happy: that stress to get it all done means I am working at night when I should be with my family, and it’s also stressful to coordinate all kinds of priorities. I don’t feel burned out (yet!), but working this way clearly increases the risk of that. I know this from my data. We asked our study participants whether they felt burned out at work and about a fifth strongly agreed they felt burned out, and another quarter agreed somewhat. Those are big numbers and it’s hard to feel happy when you’re burning out working. The solution is to “do less”: cut priorities and zoom in on what matters the most.

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    Yes! On January 1, 2017, I set the goal of getting in shape. Like so many others, I signed up with a trainer at a health club. And like so many, I have had this New Year’s resolution every year! I am a former competitive track and field athlete, so I thought this was going to be easy, but alas, I succumbed like so many others. But this year I succeeded and here’s how. I applied the idea of “20-mile march” from my book Great by Choice (co-authored with Jim Collins): the idea is to set a periodic goal (say monthly and weekly) and then set an upper and a lower bound (that’s crucial). I told myself: the goal is to exercise 3 times a week, and the lower bound is 1x, and the upper bound is 4x. My motto was: stick to the bounds, no matter what. The bounds made all the difference: I would reach my goal even if I just exercised a paltry 1 time a week. This is very different from what I used to say to myself: exercise 3 times a week, and everything below that is a failure (and sure enough, after 6 weeks in 2016 I failed and then I had, in my mind, broken my new year resolution). Now, why an upper bound? The reason is, if I exercised too many times in one week, my legs would be sore from running and so I had to rest the next week. Pacing yourself like that works really well in forming a habit, I found.

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

    I am a Questioner, absolutely. Particularly at this point in my life I notice that I question many things. Of course, I can be annoying at times, like when I ask flight attendants why we board by zones that don’t make any sense (“because that’s the way it’s done, duh.”). They are not especially impressed (or interested) when I tell them that research shows there is a better way. In my research, I found that a number of people kept asking fundamental questions about why work was done in certain ways, and that allowed them to find new and better ways. A high school principal asked his faculty, “Why do we send kids home with homework?” which challenged a 300-year old model of teaching in school. This question prompted the school to switch to a better method, where they “flipped” the classroom—homework at school, lectures via video clips at home—and results soared. It would be great to include a measure of The Four Tendencies in a study like the one I did for my book to see how work practices relate to performance. I can see why Questioners like me and the high school principal have some strengths, and yet weaknesses too (my bosses don’t especially like it when I question everything they ask me to do….oh well).

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:19:32 on 2017/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , time   

    What Do You Plan to Read Tomorrow?–Apparently It’s the Biggest Reading Day of the Year? 

    According to a study commissioned by the huge bookseller Barnes & Noble, Thanksgiving Eve--which this year falls tomorrow, on Wednesday, November 22--is the busiest reading day of the year.

    It's a very popular (and therefore stressful) travel day, and many people turn to books and periodicals to make traveling more pleasant.

    My family usually celebrates Thanksgiving in New York City, so I don't have any travel-related reading time.

    In general, though, I love to read on airplanes. I made a rule for myself: when I'm in transit, I don't work; I read for pleasure. This rule means that I get much more reading done, plus I enjoy traveling much more.

    I can't read during car trips, however -- I get car-sick. Can you read while riding in a car?

    If you're traveling tomorrow, do you plan to do some reading? What book or periodical are you taking?

    If you'd like to see my one-pager on tips for getting more reading done, it's here.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:01:32 on 2017/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , time,   

    Setting the Table for a Halloween Holiday Breakfast–For One. 

    In my book The Happiness Project, I write about my resolution to "Celebrate holiday breakfasts." And this morning, I set the table for a Halloween holiday breakfast.

    I do these holiday breakfasts for all minor holidays -- it's festive, and also fun and easy.  I always use food dye to color some food or beverage in a holiday-themed color (this morning: black peanut butter). I re-use the same decorations every year, so I don’t have to spend money or do errands. I have a very precise place in the kitchen where I store my holiday-breakfast decorations, so I don't have to scramble to find anything.

    Studies show that traditions are important to family happiness. Family rituals encourage children's social development and boost feelings of family cohesiveness by 17%. They help provide connection and predictability, which people--especially children--crave. Without traditions, holidays don't feel much different from ordinary life. Holiday breakfasts give a big happiness boost, without much effort.

    But this year was a little different. Instead of setting the holiday breakfast for two daughters, I was setting it for one daughter. Now that Eliza's in college, it's just Eleanor at the breakfast table.

    And that was bittersweet.

    One thing I decided, when Eliza left, was that I wanted to make sure to maintain fun family traditions for Eleanor -- that I didn't want to skip the effort, or decide that Eleanor was too old to enjoy it (unless she truly has outgrown something), or forget to create these little moments.

    Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age, or that because I'm busy, I won't take time for celebration.  The days are long, but the years are short.

    In fact, of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people.

    One challenge of Eliza leaving for college is figuring out how to adapt traditions for the new situation. I want to maintain, but also evolve.

    Do you have any little traditions that help you celebrate the holidays in a manageable way? Have you had to figure out how to adapt traditions, as your family changed?

    If you want some tips for creating new family traditions (oxymoron alert!), here are some ideas.

     
  • gretchenrubin 19:17:24 on 2017/10/05 Permalink
    Tags: , Chip Heath, Dan Heath, , , , time   

    Agree? “Defining Moments Defining moments Are What Make Our Lives Memorable and Meaningful.” 

    Interview: Dan Heath.

    I've been a fan of the work of Dan Heath -- and his brother and co-author Chip Heath -- for years. They've written extraordinary books like Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard; Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work; and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

    Also, as someone who does a podcast with her sister -- the "Happier" podcast -- it's interesting me to see two brothers collaborating as writers so successfully.

    Their new book just hit the shelves. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact is a fascinating book, on many levels. The book explains why certain brief experiences can elevate us, allow us to change, and stick in our memories -- and how we have the power to shape and create those extraordinary moments. I got so many insights from this book, ones that I will use both in my work life and in my personal life.

    Gretchen: You've done fascinating research. What's the most significant thing you've concluded? 

    Dan: That we shouldn’t wait for our “defining moments” to happen to us—we should be the author of them. We write about Eugene O’Kelly, who was 53 years old, a husband and father, and the CEO of the firm KPMG, when he learned that he had 3 golf-ball-sized tumors in his brain. There was no treatment. He had 3 months to live.

    In his memoir, Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life, he wrote about how he approached the final summer of his life. He resolved to “unwind” the relationships in his life, to bring them to a satisfying closure, one by one. With acquaintances, he would share reminiscences via email or phone. With friends, he’d plan “Perfect Moments”: a walk through Central Park. A great meal. A drive out of the city. These weren’t sad moments, although of course there was sadness in the air—they were celebrations of the friendships they’d shared. And as the summer progressed, he spent more and more Perfect Moments with his family.

    Toward the end, he wrote: “I experienced more Perfect Moments and Perfect Days in two weeks than I had in the last five years, or than I probably would have in the next five years, had my life continued the way it was going before my diagnosis. Look at your own calendar. Do you see Perfect Days ahead? Or could they be hidden and you have to find a way to unlock them?”

    It’s a heartbreaking memoir, but O’Kelly didn’t write it to break our hearts. He wrote it to warn us not to wait until our dying days to start creating the most important moments of our lives.

    Ultimately, our conclusion is the same as O’Kelly’s: Defining moments are what make our lives memorable and meaningful, and they are ours to create. That’s what we hope people take away from The Power of Moments.

    What's something you know now about happiness, health, creativity, or productivity that you didn't know when you were 18 years old?

    That when things go wrong, it doesn’t really mean that things have gone wrong. We write about a woman, Lea Chadwell, who in her early 40s decided to pursue her fantasy of opening a bakery. And long story short, it made her crazy. The work stressed her out and made her realize that, “This fantasy is not a fantasy anymore. I don’t want this.” (When I talked to her, she used a phrase that made me laugh out loud: “It was like this albatross of butter around my neck.”)

    At age 18, if something like that happens to you, all you can see is the failure. You’re crushed. But later in life, you start to realize that it’s as valuable to know what you don’t want, and what you can’t do, as it is to know the opposite.

    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.? 

    Yes. Peter Singer’s book The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty jolted me with its message that we have a moral responsibility to do more for the neediest people on the planet. (Experience the jolt yourself! Read this excerpt.) Causation is rarely so simple: A guy named Peter wrote some words on a page, and as a result of reading those words, my beliefs and behavior changed. Like, that same day. (And parenthetically, having had that experience as a reader gives me hope as an author that books can make a difference in people’s lives.)

    What's a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?
    NOT cherishing the moment. We’ve all heard the advice to “stay in the moment,” to “cherish the moment.” It sounded like good advice to me. So I resolved to really cherish the hell out of the good times. To wring the last drop of goodness out of them. But what I found was that all the cherishing made me anxious. I’d be having a terrific time, and then suddenly I’d have these doubts: Am I CHERISHING this enough? Am I really PRESENT right now? And somehow the hand-wringing would make me aware that: This moment is going to end. And suddenly I’d find myself SAD ABOUT A HAPPY MOMENT. That’s just dumb.

    As a result, I decided that I could not be trusted to “cherish.” These days, I am conscious about creating more “defining moments” while also trying to be more unconscious while they happen. In fact, what works for me, more than cherishing, is spending more time anticipating good times and more time reflecting on them. That extends the moment for me.

    What are 3 simple things people can do in the next week to create “defining moments” in their lives?

    (1) Write agratitude letterto someone who has made a positive difference in your life and, if possible, read it to them in person. Here’s how. Research shows that doing that can boost your happiness levels for as much as a month. There are many pleasures in the world that can spike your happiness levels for a few minutes or hours. Not many that last a month. (Not to mention the effect it has on the person you read the letter to!)

    (2) “Break the script” in some part of your life that has grown too routine. As an example, you might turn your usual Saturday routine upside down: Go for a hike, or eat out at a new restaurant, or visit some friends you rarely see, or do all three. Research shows that novel experiences make time seem to slow down—we savor them more. [I write a lot about how novelty and challenge boost happiness in my own book, The Happiness Project.]

    (3) Push beyond small talk with someone in your life. When someone asks you “How are you?”, and you’re just about to give the automatic answer, “Fine, how are you?”, take a breath. Then give the actual answer. Share something real—maybe something you’re struggling with. Trust that the other person will care and reciprocate with something real from their life. You may be amazed at how such a simple moment can deepen a relationship.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:58:33 on 2017/08/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , time, ,   

    Some Thoughts on Happiness After Dropping Off My Daughter at College. 

    This was a big week in the life of my family:  my older daughter Eliza has gone off to college.

    In her case, she did a pre-program, where she went hiking in New Hampshire with a small group of other incoming freshmen.

    This step reminded me of how we did the “Separation” stage when she was starting pre-school.

    During pre-school, she began the school-going experience by attending for a short day, I’d wait nearby with the other parents, and she and I got used to the idea of her going off to school by herself.

    For this outdoor program, we sent her off, but it felt more like a return to summer camp. Before she left home, the focus was on “Do you have the right hiking gear?” not “Now you’re saying good-bye to our dog Barnaby for several months.” When I dropped her off with her backpack, we told each other, “See you next week.”

    This hiking trip made the transition less abrupt. During that week, I told my husband, “I feel like I’m on the mezzanine level — in the mid-way point between two stages.” It was helpful to Eliza, because she got the chance to get to know a group of other students beforehand.

    Then after a week, my husband, my younger daughter Eleanor, and I packed up the car to meet her. We spent the day unloading, unpacking, meeting Eliza’s roommate and her family, buying a trash can, and all the rest.

    I can get very tightly wound in situations like this, so in the car on the trip up, I announced to my family, “I’m really going to try to stay calm. I know there will be ambiguous directions [a pet peeve of mine], and it’s going to be hot, and there will be a lot of waiting and frustrations, but I am going to stay calm.” (My mother is rightly always reminding me to stay calm.) I wanted this day to be a memorable, fun, serene good-bye day. I didn’t do a terrific job of staying calm, but I did a pretty good job of staying calm.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about happiness, and about self-mastery, it’s to think in advance about the experience I want to have, the likely pitfalls, the challenges that always trip me up. By using the Strategy of Safeguards, I help myself avoid acting in ways that will cause me regret later.

    It’s always odd, for me, when I’m going through an experience that I know will be a major life milestone. As we were waiting for Eliza to return from the hiking trip, I said to Eleanor, “I remember so well the day I moved into college. For all of us, we’ll remember this day. We’ll reminisce, ‘Remember Eliza’s first day?'” I had a similar thought when Eleanor came home from the hospital. A friend sent flowers, and I remember rocking Eleanor and thinking, “I have a baby who is such a newborn that the congratulatory flower arrangements are still fresh.” That happened more than twelve years ago.

    Time is so strange, how events can seem so distant and yet so recent. Already, Move-in Day seems like part of the distant past.

    Of everything I’ve ever written, this one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that has resonated most with people. Now that little girl who rode the bus with me is off on her own.

    In episode 125 of the “Happier” podcast, we talked about advice that listeners suggested for dealing with this family transition (also for packing–we got lots of great packing recommendations). The advice was great, and the most helpful suggestion came from the listener who said, “Remember, this is the end of something, but it’s also the beginning. You’ll have a new chapter in your family life, new favorite restaurants, and spots to visit, new memories. This chapter is short, so enjoy it.”

    I’ve reminded myself of that helpful observation often, because of that, for me, addresses the heart of my mixed feelings about this time.

    I’m thrilled for my daughter — she’s ready for this change, this experience will be terrific, she is so very fortunate to have this opportunity to get more education. And of course this change is a happy change — while often when we deal with endings, it’s in the context of loss.

    I’m sad because it’s the end of her childhood — of her being under our roof. Last week, I got a shock when I glanced into her room in the early morning: her door was open, her bed was made, and for a moment I panicked, where was she?

    And even the extra space in our bathroom makes me a little sad. She shared a bathroom with my husband and me, and the removal of her products gives us a lot more room in the medicine cabinet. This change was gratifying to my simpicity-lover side, but it was also an unexpected visual reminder of her absence.

    Speaking of echoes to pre-school separation, I keep reminding myself of the wise observation made by the nursery-school director, who as we went through “separation,” told us, “This is the first of many times that you will say good-bye to your child.

    We’ll see her soon. Visiting Day, Thanksgiving, and sheesh, I’ll be back in town for an event in less than three weeks! (I told her she didn’t have to attend, and she and I didn’t even need to see each other, if she thought it would be too unsettling to have me pop back into view.)

    It won’t be the same, but while it’s the end of an era, it’s also the beginning of an era.

    If you want to hear Eliza’s views, you can listen to her podcast “Eliza Starting at 16.” I certainly can’t wait for her next episode.

    We also did a Facebook Live broadcast together where viewers gave both of us advice for this big transition. Watch it here.

    For me, it’s always difficult when something comes to the end. Even if I’m ready and happy for it to end, I always feel a sadness in the thought that a period of my life is over.

    But then I remind myself, “No beginnings without endings. Growth brings change.”

    Also, I remind myself, “Gratitude.” As always is the case, feelings of gratitude crowd out negative feelings. When I think about how very, very, very fortunate we are, that comforts me. And that steels me to handle my own feelings and to turn outward, to think about other people’s difficulties and challenges, and the problems of the world.

    Have you grappled with this feeling — of dealing with the end of an era?

    The post Some Thoughts on Happiness After Dropping Off My Daughter at College. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:04 on 2017/08/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , time   

    Podcast 131: Do 10 Jumping Jacks, an Easy Way to Stay Off Your Device–and Life Is High School. 

    Happier with Gretchen Rubin

    Update: I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 19 days.

    I’m looking forward to heading to Los Angeles, and many other cities, on my book tour. Info here if you’d like to come to an event.

    To thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

    It was great to hear everyone’s suggestions for anti-perfectionism mantras. Wonderful.

    If you want to check out Chris Guillebeau’s brilliant podcastSide Hustle School,” for ideas about how to start your own side hustle, learn more here.

    Try This at Home: Do ten jumping jacks. It will boost your mood and increase your energy.

    If you want to listen to the Happier 911 playlist on Spotify, it’s here. Such a terrific collection of songs.

    Happiness Hack: As a way to cut down device addiction, Eric suggests that by forcing yourself to type in a long password to open your phone–rather than using a 6-digit password or fingerprint–you make it more inconvenient to open your phone and therefore easier to stay off it.

    I talk about this strategy, the Strategy of Inconvenience, in Better Than Before.

    Happiness Stumbling Block: When you feel like you’re in high school, all over again. The thing is, life is high school.

    1pixHappier with Gretchen RubinListener Question: Bethleen asks, “What should I do with my dead mother’s wedding dress?” As promised, I include a photo of Kristen in her vintage wedding dress.

    Gretchen’s Demerit: I gave myself a prospective demerit, as a way to do a “pre-mortem” to anticipate reasons for failure. Doing a pre-mortem helps identify ways to help a project to succeed. This is an exercise that really works!

    To learn more about doing a pre-mortem, read Gary Klein’s piece “Peforming a Project Premortem” in the Harvard Business Review.

    I did a pre-mortem by thinking, “My book fizzled. What did I do wrong?” and got very fired up to promote my book more. For instance, here’s the link to the pre-order bonus videos.

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gave a gold star to her friend Jessica who entered — and won! — a Beverly Hills Pie-Baking Contest.


    Free Resources:

    1. Want to join my group of Super-Fans? From time to time, I’ll offer you a little bonus, or ask for a small favor (nothing onerous, I promise). Sign up here. Super-Fans, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm.
    2. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    As I mentioned above, I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Check out Lyft  — join the ride-sharing company that believes in treating its people better. Go to Lyft.com/happier to get a $500 new-driver bonus. Limited time only.

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    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 131: Do 10 Jumping Jacks, an Easy Way to Stay Off Your Device–and Life Is High School. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:06:02 on 2017/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , time,   

    Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. 

    Update: I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 34 days. So close, and yet so far!

    Elizabeth and I are considering planning a meet-up with listeners and readers on Sunday, September 17, around 6:00 p.m. Would you be interested in coming? What would be a good neighborhood or spot? Weigh in on the Better app, under Events — that makes it much easier to coordinate responses. We’re trying to figure out if this would be a good idea. If you’re already a member of the app, click here to go directly to the event to RSVP.

    Pre-orders give a big boost to a book, so to thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

    Try This at Home: Remember that September is the other January. In my book Happier at Home, I describe my happiness project that stretched from September to May — a school year, which is another kind of year for me.

    September, for many people, marks a fresh start and a new beginning, so it’s good to think about changes to make with this clean slate.

    Elizabeth vows to start grilling — not expecting Adam to grill, but to grill herself. I’m planning to start “Weekly Adventures” with Eleanor.

    In my book Better Than Before, I talk about using the “Strategy of the Clean Slate” as a way to harness new beginnings to help yourself make important changes. The clean slate is a powerful catalyst for me.

    1pix

    Happiness Hack: I love an office-supplies hack! Elizabeth ordered personalized post-it notes — easy, inexpensive, and seem special — specifically for “Happier in Hollywood” for her and Sarah to use. She ordered hers from Zazzle.com. Post a photo of your personalized post-it notes on #happier2017 on Instagram, and tag us @lizcraft and @gretchenrubin.

    Happiness Stumbling Block: What will “they” think?

    Here’s the video I mention, of the twelve-minute talk that I gave about drift, and here’s the quiz “Are you drifting?

    Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m a dedicated hair twister, and I’ve been twisting my hair more than usual.

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s young son Jack participated enthusiastically on a hike. Elizabeth’s fantasy is to do family hikes on the weekend — so now her fantasy self and real self are colliding, thanks to Jack.


    Free Resources:

    1. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.
    2.  Want to join my group of Super-Fans? From time to time, I’ll offer you a little bonus, or ask for a small favor (nothing onerous, I promise). Sign up here. Super-Fans, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    As I mentioned above, I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

    Also check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

    Visit Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 15% off your first Framebridge order.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

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    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:45:12 on 2017/07/08 Permalink
    Tags: May Sarton, , , , , time   

    What’s Your Most Fruitful Time for Thinking? 

    “Some of the most fruitful thinking times are when I wake after sleeping a few hours, and in the seamless time when nothing needs to be done, not even getting up, I meditate.”

    –May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

    When is your most fruitful time for thinking — in the middle of the night, before you get out of bed, in the shower, during a run, walking the dog, in the car?

    I have a friend who never misses his weekly massage, because that’s when he gets his best ideas for building his business.

     

    The post What’s Your Most Fruitful Time for Thinking? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:00:00 on 2017/06/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , time   

    “Sometimes I Dream About Him When He Was Younger, and I Remember It with Such Sweetness that It Wakes Me.” 

    “I also can still see many of Sam’s ages in him. New parents grieve as their babies get bigger, because they cannot imagine the child will ever be so heartbreakingly cute and needy again. Sam is a swirl of every age he’s ever been, and all the new ones, like cotton candy, like the Milky Way. I can see the stoned wonder of the toddler, the watchfulness of the young child sopping stuff up, the busy purpose and workmanship of the nine-year-old…

    “I held him loosely and smelled his neck. Sometimes when I dream about him, he’s in danger, he’s doing things that are too risky, but most of the time he’s stomping around or we’re just hanging out together. Sometimes I dream about him when he was younger, and I remember it with such sweetness that it wakes me.”

    –Anne Lamott, “Diamond Heart,” in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

    My daughter graduated from high school this week, so you see where my head is.

    The post “Sometimes I Dream About Him When He Was Younger, and I Remember It with Such Sweetness that It Wakes Me.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:06:21 on 2017/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , time,   

    Some Thoughts on My Daughter’s High School Graduation: Go Forth Unafraid. 

    Yesterday, my daughter graduated from high school. It was a bittersweet afternoon.

    Happy, because it’s satisfying to think of the work that she’s done, sweet because it’s great to see the friends she’s made, and exciting to see her move forward. (Like that old joke, “That’s why they call it a Commencement.”)

    Sad, because this ceremony marks an end. This time in her life, and in my life too, has come to a close. I always feel a sense of loss when things come to their end (even things I want to end).

    During the ceremony, the school crest was projected on a giant screen above the graduates’ heads, and I got to thinking about the school motto.

    I love maxims, proverbs, manifestos, mantras, teaching stories — anything that crams a big idea into a small space — and I’ve always been fascinated by school mottoes.

    The motto of my high school was “Freedom with responsibility.” We talked about it often in school, and I still think of it, to this day. It’s a great motto for anyone, it’s a great motto for the United States, it’s thought-provoking and transcendent.

    My daughter’s school takes a different angle on the school motto — it’s  “Go forth unafraid.”

    As with my high school, the school talks about this motto often. Teachers lecture about  it, kids joke about it, it’s prominently displayed throughout the school.  It’s part of the school song: “We go forth unafraid/Strong with love and strong with learning…” It’s deeply embedded in the school culture.

    For instance, the seniors have a tradition of the end-of-year “Count Down” celebration: as kids from younger grades look on admiringly, the seniors gather in the Senior Lounge with a big digital clock, and count down together to their final 3:15 p.m. dismissal time. I watched a video, and saw that as the last seconds slipped by, the seniors broke into the school song, and as 3:15 started to flash, they were all singing its last line at the top of their lungs: “Here we have learned to go forth unafraid.”

    I’ve always loved this motto, and it never struck me more forcefully than during the graduation ceremony.

    It prompted me to recall my daughter’s very first day of pre-school. As I stood in the corridor  with the other parents, all of us struggling to say good-bye to our children, the head of the school said to me gently, “This is the first of many times that you will say good-bye to your child.”

    And as hard as it was to let my three-year-old daughter walk through that brightly decorated door, I was so happy when she marched ahead, interested and eager, to explore her new classroom.

    And as I sat in the audience and watched all the seniors receive their diplomas, I thought, “As hard as it is to see this time come to an end, I’m happy, too, and what I want most for my daughter and all these kids is for them to go forth unafraid, strong with love and strong with learning.”

    And as I sat in the audience, and searched for my daughter’s mortarboarded head among the crowd onstage, I recalled that three-year-old girl going to school for the very first time — and remembered something else from those days.

    Back then, she and I rode the bus to school, and I wrote a little video story about that bus ride, called “The Years Are Short.” Of everything I’ve ever written, this one-minute video has resonated most with people, and its truth, for me, has never struck me more forcefully. In my daughter’s childhood, some days seemed interminable, but the years have passed in a flash.

    That three-year-old pre-schooler has become an eighteen-year-old high school graduate.

    Now what?

    Go forth unafraid.

    The post Some Thoughts on My Daughter’s High School Graduation: Go Forth Unafraid. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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