Podcast 66: Why It’s Helpful to Give Advice Only When Asked, and the Challenges of Email Etiquette and Vacation Hangovers.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: We got many interesting responses to the “Stop stockpiling” discussion from episode 62.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. I talk to viewers about questions, comments, suggestions. You can watch the most recent one here. If you want to join the conversation live, I do them on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern. Join in!

Try This at Home: Only give advice when it’s asked for. Harder than it sounds. If you want to watch the short scene I mentioned from Star Wars, it’s here.

Advice can be tiresome, but it can also be life-transforming. So…

For our next Very Special Episode, episode 70, let us know: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? For work, love, parenting, life…what really made the difference? Let us know! Email us at podcast @ gretchenrubin .com, comment below, or best of all, call us. We’d love to hear your voice as you tell the story.  774-277-9336 (77 HAPPY 336).

Happiness Stumbling Block: Email etiquette. Email issues come up all the time.

Listener Questioner: Sarah asks for tips for readjusting after a great trip away — the “vacation hangover.”

Gretchen’s Demerit: For a whole day, I didn’t meaningfully engage with any member of my family. I was just lost in my own thoughts, and going through the motions.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s kindergarten class had a terrific “Young Authors” program.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #66

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier 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.

HAPPIER listening!

Agree? “A Little Too Much Anger Can Destroy More Than You Would Ever Imagine.”

“A little too much anger, too often or at the wrong time, can destroy more than you would ever imagine. Above all, mind what you say.”

— Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

How I love all the novels of Marilynne Robinson. Housekeeping, so brilliant. I just read Lila for the first time, which made me want to re-read Gilead. It is a rare kind of book: a novel told from the perspective of a deeply good person. A beautiful, beautiful book.

A Little Happier: There’s Great Value, Especially in a Family, Of Knowing When to Say Nothing.

It’s time for the latest A Little Happier.

Can you think of a time when you — or someone else — managed to leave words unsaid? It’s harder than it sounds.

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Happier listening!

 

Can You “Drift” Your Way into Graduate School? Oh Yes.

From time to time, I write about “drift.” Drift is the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.

You want to dodge a fight with the people around you, or you want to please them, or you want to avoid a struggle with self-doubt or uncertainty.

In my case, I drifted into law school.

If you want to hear me talk about drift, and tell my law-school story, you can watch it here.

You can also take the popular quiz, Are You Drifting?

Because I think drift is so important, I made a vow to myself that I’d raise the issue anytime I spoke to students — high school, undergraduate, or graduate.  And the issue always strikes a chord.

For instance, each year I speak to a group of first-year medical students, and it turns out that medical students can be subject to drift. Initially, this surprised me, because I thought, “Medical school is so hard, and so specific, and takes so much time and money. No one would drift into med school.”

But no! It happens. People think, “My mother and father are both doctors, so I should be a doctor.” Or “I’m good at math and science, people keep telling me I should become a doctor.” They can do it, and they don’t know what else to do, so they move forward. That’s drift.

So I was very interested, but not surprised, to see this piece by Tatiana Schlossberg in the New York Times, about the Sauermann and Roach study “Why Pursue the Postdoc Path?

Schlossberg writes:

“Doctoral students in the sciences are more like the rest of us than previously thought: They don’t know what they want to do with their lives, either…The authors [of the study found] evidence that many students pursued postdocs as a default option after graduate school, or as part of a ‘holding pattern’ until the job they wanted was available. The authors…conclusively demonstrated the need for more career planning among graduate students, and that graduate students should consider their career paths before they even begin a Ph.D. program.”

In other words, these students drifted into graduate work without a clear plan for why they were there.

The word “drift” has overtones of laziness or ease. Not true! Drift is often disguised by a huge amount of effort and perseverance. Just because you’re working hard — I’m sure those graduate students are working hard — is no guarantee that you’re not drifting.

Here’s another complication. I drifted into law school, and in the end, I’m happy I did go to law school. Sometimes drift does make you happy. But don’t count on it.

One of my drift-related Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” And here’s another one: “Approval from the people we admire is sweet, but it’s not enough to be the foundation of a happy life.

Have you ever found yourself drifting? How did you start, how did you end it — or not?

Have You Ever Been Made Happier by a “Modest Splurge?” Of What? For Me, Magic Markers.

I’m an under-buyer, and for the most part, I dislike shopping, errands, and buying stuff.

In fact, one of my happiness-project resolutions is to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” I remind myself that sometimes, it makes me happy to indulge in a modest splurge — to buy something that I don’t absolutely need, but that makes my day brighter in some way.

I indulged in a modest splurge a few days ago.

I was early for a meeting (I’m always early), so I decided to spend the time wandering around an art store. I love just looking at the things in art stores. This store, sadly, was going out of business, so prices were slashed.

As a result, the shelves were fairly bare, but I happened to notice a giant box of beautiful, high-quality, double-ended magic markers.

These particular markers hold special memories for me, because when I was in college, my roommate had twelve of these markers, and she prized them highly. She never let anyone borrow them, and we could use them only under her supervision. (Very wisely–she knew that we’d lose them, or leave the caps loose.) We had so much fun with those markers.

I looked at the price. For a box of markers, it was still expensive. At the same time, it was an extraordinary bargain. But I didn’t really need the markers–we have lots of good markers already. But this was a really good set of markers. It would make me very happy to use them, and my daughters would also use them. But couldn’t we use the markers we already had? Well-made tools make work a joy; having these terrific markers might boost my creativity. Looking at the markers brought back happy memories. But if we didn’t make good use of the markers, I would feel guilty.  Etc., etc., etc.

I bet the other customers thought I was a very odd person — I stood stock still, gazing at the box, as these questions played out in my head, for several minutes.

At last, I remembered my resolution to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” And I thought, well, I’m going to get them! I love them.

I got them home, my daughters were delighted with the markers, we all tried them out — and my older daughter asked, “Can I take some to school tomorrow?”

First, I said “No way.” I was thinking–I want to keep the set nice, I don’t want to risk losing or spoiling one, I want to “save” them to keep them nice, etc.

Then I remembered #7 of my Twelve Personal Commandments. Spend out. I tend to hold things back, so I have to remind myself to spend out. Use things up! Put them into circulation, put them to work! Better to use the markers all the time, and risk losing them, than to save them on the shelf, and never use them at all. (Plus my daughter is fairly responsible.)

Have you ever made a “modest splurge,” where a purchase made you happier? What did you splurge on?