Blog Posts by Gretchen Rubin

  • MindykalingMindykaling

    Interview: Mindy Kaling.

    I'm a gigantic fan of Mindy Kaling. I love her in The Office, as Kelly Kapoor (Mindy not only stars in the show, but also writes and produces); I love her on Twitter (@mindykaling); and I've already pre-ordered her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). She is brilliantly hilarious, and her work has added a lot to my daily happiness.

    So I was thrilled to get the chance to do a happiness interview with her.

    Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
    Mindy: I do two things that consistently, and instantly, make me happier. One is running. Please understand, I am by no means an athlete. I run a 12 or 13 minute mile, which is about the pace a real runner would do if they were doing physical therapy after a traumatic leg accident or something. It is not an impressive pace, but it's my instant trigger to a good mood. That's the great thing about endorphins - you don't have to be really in

    Read More »from "It's Helpful to Remember the Younger Version of Me Because It Reminds Me To Feel Grateful When I Want To Be Snotty."
  • 8 Reasons Why Waiting in Line Drives Us Crazy.

    Waiting-in-lineWaiting-in-line

    I'm a very impatient person, and standing in a slow-moving line is one of those very small, maddening aspects of life that drives me crazy. As often happens, however, when I learned more about the experience, it became more interesting to me.

    I happened to read a paper by David Maister, The Psychology of Waiting Lines. The piece is aimed at people who operate stores, restaurants, doctors' offices, and other places where people fuss about being kept waiting. Of course, most of us are the ones standing in line, not the ones controlling the line, but I was fascinated by getting this insight into my own psychology.

    Maister's main point is that the actual time we're waiting may have little relationship to how long that wait feels. Two minutes can pass in a flash, or two minutes can feel interminable. Here are eight factors that make waits seem longer:

    1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. When you have something to distract yourself, time passes more quickly.

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  • Make the Most of Your Photographs.

    2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year -- and even if you haven't officially signed up for the challenge -- welcome! This month's theme is Memories, and last week's resolution was to Keep a file box. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

    This week's resolution is to Make the most of your photographs.

    Make_the_most_of_your_photographs_Podcast


    If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
    Photographs make me happy, but they're also making miserable.
    Need a simple way to boost your mood in one minute? Look at a photo of someone you love.
    Six tips for using mementos to keep happy memories vivid.

    If you're new, here's information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It's never too late to start! You're not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I'll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for

    Read More »from Make the Most of Your Photographs.
  • Think about Your Mother

    Some people think it's ridiculous to celebrate holidays like Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day - that these are just commercial holidays forced on us by clever marketers. But I think it's nice to be prompted to think lovingly about your mother and your father, and the mothers and fathers in your life.

    The other day, I was contemplating (as I often do) an observation made by my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux, in her extraordinary memoir, The Story of a Soul.

    While writing about being blamed for things and scolded for little transgressions in her convent, she noted, "I noticed this: when one performs her duty, never excusing herself, no one knows it; on the contrary, imperfections appear immediately."

    So true, right? You do something perfectly and reliably, nobody notices. You make a mistake, everyone complains.

    This is particularly true of parenthood, which involves a myriad of tasks, small but pesky and relentless, that need to be done without fail. "I packed

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  • CatchafireCatchafire

    Volunteering is the right thing to do -- we all know that. And studies show that it boosts happiness; those who work to further causes they value tend to be happier and healthier, experience fewer aches and pains, and even live longer. And it's not just that helpful people also tend to be healthier and happier; studies show that helping others itself causes happiness. "Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons," as one of my happiness paradoxes holds. About a quarter of Americans volunteer, and of those, a third volunteers for more than a hundred hours each year (which requires just two hours each week).

    One cause for which I volunteer my time, energy, and money is the New York Public Library. I love the NYPL! Whether you want an excellent book to read, help updating your resume, a great place for your teen to go after school, or research materials for the Ph.D. you're writing about the history of the French Revolution, you find people and resources to help you -- and all for

    Read More »from Volunteer. Give Pro Bono. Help Others. It's the Right Thing to Do, and It Will Boost Your Happiness.
  • "Get Outside of the House. Literally Get Out and Smell the Roses."

    KreamerKreamer

    Interview: Anne Kreamer.

    I met Anne Kreamer because I was a big fan of her book, Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters. Not dying her hair any more was a sort of happiness-project for Anne, so that really caught my attention.

    We soon discovered that we'd both grown up in Kansas City, and for a while, our parents lived just a blog away from each other (and knew each other). Small world!

    Now Anne has a terrific new book: It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace. It's a very thought-provoking look at the role of emotions in the workplace; anger, fear, anxiety, joy, and empathy influence our productivity and our happiness at work, but we don't often think about them as elements of our work lives. (Well, I suppose I do, nowadays. But I haven't always done so, that's for sure.)

    Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
    Anne: I love walking. If I'm

    Read More »from "Get Outside of the House. Literally Get Out and Smell the Roses."
  • 9 Tips to Quit Nagging.


    From what I hear from other people, it's clear that I'm not the only person who struggles with nagging. It turns out that being a nag is just as unpleasant as being nagged -- so finding strategies to stop nagging brings a real happiness boost to a relationship.

    But even though no one enjoys an atmosphere of nagging, in marriage or any partnership, chores are a huge source of conflict. How do you get your sweetheart to hold up his or her end, without nagging?

    One of my best friends from college has a very radical solution: she and her husband don't assign. That's right. They never say, "Get me a diaper," "The trash needs to go out," etc. This only works because neither one of them is a slacker, but still - what a tactic! And they have three children!

    That's something to strive for. But even if we can't reach that point, most of us could cut back on the nagging. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:

    1. Don't insist that a task be done on your schedule.

    Read More »from 9 Tips to Quit Nagging.
  • Keep a File Box.

    2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year -- and even if you haven't officially signed up for the challenge -- welcome! This month's theme is Memories, and last week's resolution was to Keep a milestone book. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

    This week's resolution is to Keep a file box.

    Keep_a_file_box_Podcast


    If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
    In which I solve an annoying problem: what to do with those childhood keepsake papers?
    Six tips for using mementos to keep happy memories vivid.

    How about you? Have you figured out any quick, easy ways to organize mementos? I'm always looking for new suggestions.

    If you're new, here's information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It's never too late to start! You're not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I'll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to

    Read More »from Keep a File Box.
  • How to turn something ugly into something beautiful

    The other night, it was my turn to host my children's literature reading group -- I'm now in three of these groups! Partly because I am in three of the groups, I keep the bar low, so I served take-out Chinese food and store-bought cookies, as I always do -- but I did resolve to take the trouble to buy flowers for the table (though I must confess, I didn't even go to a proper florist's shop, but went to the deli around the corner from my house -- lower the bar).

    When I want to get the flowers, I was thrilled to see that one of my very favorite flowers was available. I hadn't even known the name of this flower until a few years ago, and I've always been sorry that it has such an unlovely name: ranunculus.

    I was moved to post this observation on Twitter (@gretchenrubin). I wrote: "My favorite flower is so beautiful, but cursed with a name that sounds more like a wart on the sole of your foot: Ranunculus."

    To my satisfaction, one person answered me with a comment that showed

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  • 21 phrases to use to help you FIGHT RIGHT with your sweetheart

    Almost all couples fight; the secret is to fight right.

    I've posted before about what NOT to say during a fight. Here are some phrases that will actually help.

    When the Big Man and I are arguing, I find that the single best technique to apply is HUMOR. If one of us can laugh and joke around, the crabby mood lifts instantly. But during an argument, it can be hard to see the funny side of things.

    Failing that, here are twenty-one phrases that help turn down the heat of anger:

    Please try to understand my point of view.
    Wait, can I take that back?
    You don't have to solve this-it helps me just to talk to you.
    This is important to me. Please listen.
    I overreacted, I'm sorry.
    I see you're in a tough position.
    I can see my part in this.
    I hadn't thought of it that way before.
    I could be wrong.
    Let's agree to disagree on that.
    This isn't just your problem, it's our problem.
    I'm feeling unappreciated.
    We're getting

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