Report from My Book Tour! Some Observations and Insights from the Road. 


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I'm visiting many cities across the United States as part of my book tour for Outer Order, Inner Calm. Many writers don't like to go on tour, but I love it. I really enjoy getting to meet book readers and Happier listeners, and I'm very interested to hear what people have to say on the subject of outer order.

Some observations:

I'm noticing that many people apparently buy the book as a helpful resource, or possibly a gentle nudge, or possibly outright pointed commentary, for someone else. I'm often asked to inscribe a book with sentiments such as "You can do it!" or "You got this!".

It's interesting to me that many book clubs are reading this book. I wouldn't necessarily have thought it would be a candidate for a book group, but there's indeed much to discuss.

I've been struck by how many people who attend book events come through the Happier podcast.  It's tremendously fun to see the two strands of my work coming together.

I've been surprised by how many people have told me that of all the books I've written, Better Than Before is their favorite. I love all my books, and I love Better Than Before, so I don't know why that's a surprise. Maybe because it's about a subject—how to make or break habits—is often considered a challenge.

Speaking of Better Than Beforepeople often bring their old books for me to sign, so my life flashes before my eyes as I see the various covers and editions of my previous books. That's fun, especially when a book is very dog-eared or marked-up. I love to see a much-read book. I really mark up  books when I read (except library books of course).

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When I speak, my favorite part is always the question-and-answer, because I'm so curious to hear what's on people's minds.

A few questions keep coming up over and over:

  • "Because of a death or downsizing in my family, I've inherited a bunch of stuff. How do I manage it?"
  • "How can I teach a child the value of outer order?"
  • "How can I use the Four Tendencies framework to get myself, or someone else, to do a better job of maintaining outer order?"
  • "How do I manage my emotions? I want to create more outer order, but it's very hard for me to relinquish things that have sentimental value."
  • "How do I manage digital clutter?"
  • "What should I do with my photos?" Once a woman started crying as she asked her question, because she was so overwhelmed by her photos.

Fortunately, the book Outer Order, Inner Calm tackles all these issues! It would be discouraging if I found out that I hadn't addressed issues that were pressing on people's minds.

One funny question: a Happier podcast listener asked if I'd been sticking to #10 on my "19 for 2019" list. I'd added the item: "On my book tour, read children's literature instead of watching HGTV before-and-after shows, which for some reason is what I want to do when I'm alone in a hotel room."

Yes, I've kept this. I realized that as an Abstainer, it would be easier for me to follow through if I watched no TV. So I haven't turned on the TV once! I've been reading adult literature as well as children's literature, but I accept that as within the spirit of the resolution.

Speaking of "19 for 2019," many people included "Go to a Gretchen Rubin event" on their lists. Several people even asked me to sign a copy of their lists—so fun to see.

I'm sure no one else noticed, but I thought it was funny when someone introduced me by saying that I'd "walked hand-in-hand with the Dalai Lama" instead of "arm-in-arm." A big difference!

Another question often raised by audience members—and journalists—is how my approach differs from that of Marie Kondo. It's so different!

I love the work of Marie Kondo. I read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as soon as it came out, years ago, and I binge-watched Tidying Up as soon as it was available on Netflix. I see tremendous value in her approach.

But the fact is, Marie Kondo has a very specific, structured way to approach outer order. On the TV show, the specificity of her approach is softened somewhat, but in the book, it's clear: to do it right, follow the KonMari way.

From my observation, there's never just one way to achieve an aim. There's no magic, one-size-fits-all solution that's "best" or "most efficient" or "right." People are different, and different approaches work for different people. So while I love Kondo's work, and have followed some of her suggestions, I don't think there's one best way.

Marie Kondo is a simplicity-lover, but many people are abundance-lovers.

Marie Kondo says to do clutter-clearing in one big effort, but many people prefer to tackle it a little bit at a time, with strategies like the "one-minute rule" or "power hour."

For some people—like me—it would be a waste of time and energy to follow her advice to unpack my bag every night, put things away, and re-pack the next day.

You can read more about my thoughts on Marie Kondo's work here.

In my observation, the problem arises when a certain system (like KonMari, David Allen's Getting Things Done, minimalism, etc.) doesn't work for people, and they get discouraged and think that their situation is hopeless, because they've failed with a specific approach.

My own view is that if one way doesn't work or doesn't appeal, just try something else until you find what works for you. If something doesn't work, that's still helpful, because you've learned value information about what does and doesn't work for you, so now you can try something different.

One last note: It has been great to meet so many people who are doing The Happiness Project Experience this year, and to hear how the program is going for them. I've been very gratified to learn that people are really enjoying it.

Thanks to everyone who came to an event! I so appreciate the enthusiasm and support.