Blog Posts by Gretchen Rubin

  • 7 Tips for Bringing the Pleasure of Art into Everyday Life

    Am-GalleriesAn appreciation for art is one of the transcendent values of life, and a great source of happiness, but like many transcendent values, it can sometimes be hard to wedge into your ordinary day.

    Here are some tips for getting some visual art into your daily routine, without spending a lot of time, energy, or money.

    1. Check out art books from the library. Art books are very expensive, but at the library, you can enjoy as many as you want, for free.

    2. Here's a brilliant suggestion from a reader: When she's at a museum, she buys postcards of her favorite works of art. She keeps a big stack of these masterpiece postcards, and from time to time, puts a new bunch in the sun visor of her car. When she's stuck in traffic, she pulls them out and looks at them.

    3. Enjoy picture books. We tend to look at picture books only when we're around very young children, but picture books can be such a source of joy. I wrote a series of posts for the New York Times Motherlode blog about

    Read More »from 7 Tips for Bringing the Pleasure of Art into Everyday Life
  • Have You Ever Been Stuck Between Two Options, and Unable to Decide?

    buridan2I love teaching stories-parables from the Bible, Zen stories, paradoxes, Aesop's fables, koans. That's one reason that I now use my weekly video to tell a story.

    One such story is the story of "Buridan's ass." In it, an ass stands between two identical piles of hay, and unable to find a reason to choose one pile over the other, dies of hunger.

    I know this story well, and I was struck by how absolutely perfectly it applies to Geoff Dyer's description of his struggle to decide what book to write next, as set forth in his fascinating book, Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence. Dyer writes:

    Although I had made up my mind to write a book about Lawrence I had also made up my mind to write a novel, and while the decision to write the book about Lawrence was made later it had not entirely superseded that earlier decision. At first I'd had an overwhelming urge to write both books but these two desires had worn each other down to the point where I had no urge to

    Read More »from Have You Ever Been Stuck Between Two Options, and Unable to Decide?
  • I Have More Faith that I’m Not so Different from Everyone Else

    Pamela-Druckerman-Happiness interview: Pamela Druckerman.

    I first heard about journalist and author Pamela Druckerman when her book Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting came out-it really struck a chord with many parents.

    Now she has a new book, Bébé Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting, which hits the shelves next week. I find lists irresistible-and lists of 100, even more irresistible.

    I was very interested to hear what she had to say about happiness.

    Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Pamela: Reading a good book. Whenever I do this, I'm amazed that I don't do it more often.

    Also, knowing - and naming - the little things that make me happy, makes me very happy. When I think of something I like, I try to jot it down somewhere. Then inevitably, I lose track of it. The other day I came across a slip of paper on which I'd written simply, "the word 'shimmy.'" A list I wrote last year included

    Read More »from I Have More Faith that I’m Not so Different from Everyone Else
  • Do You Have the Most Vivid Memories from Your Life from Age 15 to 25?

    highschoollockersI don't have much time to write, because I'm leaving for L.A. in an hour-I'm going to be on The Talk on Tuesday, which will be a lot of fun. Tune in! I'll also get to see my sister and her family, which will be a real treat.

    I was very intrigued by this observation in Jennifer Senior's piece in New York magazine, Why You Truly Never Leave High School:

    Give a grown adult a series of random prompts and cues, and odds are he or she will recall a disproportionate number of memories from adolescence. This phenomenon even has a name-the "reminiscence bump"-and it's been found over and over in large population samples, with most studies suggesting that memories from the ages of 15 to 25 are most vividly retained.

    Fascinating! It reminded me of a passage from Robert Southey, which I quoted in Happier at Home:

    Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we

    Read More »from Do You Have the Most Vivid Memories from Your Life from Age 15 to 25?
  • Want an Exercise Routine You’ll Stick To? Ask Yourself These 11 Questions

    runningfeettreadmillWhen I ask people what they'd like to do for their own happiness projects, they often say something like, "Exercise more regularly." Exercise is very important for health and mood, and everyone knows this-and yet it's often tough for people to stick to an exercise routine.

    I think that one mistake is to choose a form of exercise based on a) what your friend recommends, b) what kind of change to your body you want to see, or c) what is the fashionable form of exercise. It's helpful to consider these factors, but in the end, we're far more likely to stick with an exercise routine that suits our nature and our schedule. If you're struggling to exercise regularly, this is not the place to fight your nature! If you've been a night person all your life, vowing to get up at 5:00 a.m. to run isn't very realistic.

    Ask yourself these questions, and when you're done, think about what kind of exercise routine would suit you best:

    1. Are you a morning person or a night person?

    2.

    Read More »from Want an Exercise Routine You’ll Stick To? Ask Yourself These 11 Questions
  • Want to Be Free from French Fries? Or, Why Abstaining May Be Easier Than You Think

    French_FriesI've written a lot about abstainers vs. moderators. In a nutshell, the difference is: abstainers find it easier to resist temptation by giving up something altogether, while moderators find it easier to indulge in moderation.

    I'm an abstainer. I find it very easy to give something up, but I drive myself crazy when I try to indulge in a limited way. I wear myself out with "Does this count?" "Today, tomorrow?" "Just one more."

    Every time I write about the subject, I hear from abstainers and moderators alike, and I talk to my friends about this issue all the time (I'm a bit of a happiness bore, I confess). I do believe that both camps exist, and many people are a mix of both. But here's my latest conclusion: More people would benefit from abstaining.

    Abstaining sounds demanding and rigid; people assume that it's easier to be moderate. But in fact, abstaining is easier. At least, for lots of people. From what I've seen, many people who try abstaining are surprised to find out

    Read More »from Want to Be Free from French Fries? Or, Why Abstaining May Be Easier Than You Think
  • Why a Mirror Can Make You Behave Better, and 5 More Tips for Boosting Self-Control

    pillarsSelf-control is very valuable, and most of us are eager to boost our self-mastery. One of the best ways, it turns out, is through monitoring. The more aware we are of what we're actually doing-not what we wish we were doing, or imagine that we're doing-the more control we can exert over ourselves. Monitoring dramatically boosts our self-awareness, and self-awareness is a key to self-mastery.

    Monitoring has an almost uncanny power; people who keep close track of just about anything tend to do a better job with it, in key categories such as eating, drinking, exercising, working, TV- and internet-use, and spending.

    In fact, in some studies, the mere presence of a mirror-which allowed people literally to watch over themselves-made them more likely to behave in a more upright way.

    On the flip side, research shows, failing to monitor ourselves is one of the main reasons that we lose self-control. As we lose a sense of self-awareness, our behavior starts to change; our

    Read More »from Why a Mirror Can Make You Behave Better, and 5 More Tips for Boosting Self-Control
  • We Have Found that Almost Any Types of Acts of Kindness Boost Happiness

    SonjaLyubomirskyHappiness interview: Sonja Lyubomirsky.

    I got to know Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky through her work, which includes the fascinating book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (just the kind of book I love), and then I met her in person when we appeared together in this episode of the Katie Couric show.

    Now she has a new book, The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, But Does.

    She's one of the leading writers and thinkers on the subject of happiness, so I was very eager to get the chance to pose some questions.

    Gretchen: What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Sonja: Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier. My favorite is doing acts of kindness. The generous acts don't have to be random and they don't have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.). We have found that almost any types of

    Read More »from We Have Found that Almost Any Types of Acts of Kindness Boost Happiness
  • 7 Reasons Why Photographs Can Boost Your Happiness

    photobookearlyyearsPhotographs are such a joy, and I don't know about you, but I'm much more focused on taking photographs now that cameras and phones have evolved to make taking photos so much easier. I used to begrudge the time that I spent on photos, but now I realize the role they can play in happiness.

    1. Photos remind us of the people, places, and activities we love. Many people keep photos in their homes, in their office, or in their wallet, and happy families tend to display large numbers of photos at home. In Happier at Home, I write about my "shrine to my family" made of photographs.

    2. Photos help us remember the past. One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good.

    3. Photos can save space while preserving memories. Through a friend, I heard about a fantastic service, Plum Print, "the simple solution

    Read More »from 7 Reasons Why Photographs Can Boost Your Happiness
  • The 21 Day Relationship Challenge Has Started!

    21-DayChallenge-BlogPhotoYesterday was Day #1 of the 21 Day Relationship Challenge-but don't worry, if you sign up after this "official" start day, you'll get the full 21 days worth of daily emails starting from whenever you sign up.

    Here on the blog, in addition to my usual daily posts, I'll add a very short post about the day's resolution, to give people a place to weigh in with their thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other, so please do comment. If you have a comment some days later, you can scroll back and add your comment at any time.

    You can read all posts related to the 21 Day Relationship Challenge by going here (or searching in the Archives, found in the right rail, in the Category of "21 Day Relationship Challenge").

    Now, why is this a "relationship" challenge? Why not an "energy" challenge, say? (Which would also useful, I think!) Because for many people, I've noticed, the element of Happier at Home that resonates most is the discussion of relationships.

    Ancient

    Read More »from The 21 Day Relationship Challenge Has Started!

Pagination

(618 Stories)