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This weekend, my sister Elizabeth and I went to the Podcast Movement conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Now that we’re doing our weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, how better to embrace our podcaster identity than to go to a conference?
We had a great time, and it made me happier, for several reasons.
1. Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: relationships make people happy, so anything that widens our relationships tends to boost happiness. Elizabeth and I met a bunch of fun new people this weekend.
2. Likewise, anything that deepens relationships tends to boost our happiness. Having a fun sisterly weekend adventure brought me closer to Elizabeth, and we also got to spend time with the terrific Panoplyteam.
3. As the First Splendid Truth of Happiness explains, a key element of a happy life is a sense of growth — of learning, of fixing something, of helping someone, of creating something, of improving something. I learned a tremendous amount during the weekend, so I got the sense of growth.
4. Novelty and challenge boost happiness. This is hard for me to remember — I’m naturally attracted to familiarity and mastery, and I really have to talk myself into doing new things. But even for a creature of habit like me, novelty does boost happiness. I was really energized by the new experience.
5. We’re happier when we have many sides to our identity. Maybe you get fired, and that’s a blow to your identity, but you think, “Everyone in the PTA likes and respects me.” That’s comforting. Professionally, I’m a “writer”: when I became a “blogger,” I got a big happiness boost, and now becoming a “podcaster” is giving me another boost.
Working on my three books about happiness — The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before — has really helped me to analyze a situation according to its likely happiness effect. In the past, I might’ve thought, “Nah, why go to the conference? All that bother and expense and inconvenience, for such a short trip.” Now I look at that kind of decision in a very different way.
How about you? When you’re deciding whether or not to do something, do you explicitly consider the effect it will have on your happiness?
Intrigued by the podcast, but don't know where to start? I love all our episodes, but a particular favorite is our Very Special Episode 10, Live from Elizabeth's Cluttered Closet, where I help Elizabeth clean her closet. Let's just say that we're both very much ourselves in this episode. For better and for worse! Listen here. See before-and-after photoshere.
It’s funny, though, what can unleash a memory. A smell, for instance, can invoke memories very powerfully.
I had a rush of memory when Rebecca Lemov, one of my college roommates, emailed me this sketch. While looking through her dusty sketchbooks, she found this drawing of me. She also sent a photo of a note that I wrote to her around that time. (My handwriting hasn’t changed.)
Seeing the sketch brought back…such a feeling of college. I can’t even quite describe it. The atmosphere of that time of life. It was acute.
Have you ever come across an artifact like this, that brought back a flood of memories?
Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.
Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.
In any event, I assure you that, for all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.
Sometimes you can't read -- because you're walking your dog or driving, say. It's a perfect time to listen to a podcast. A podcast like...Happier with Gretchen Rubin! Intrigued, by not sure how to subscribe? It's easy--really! Instructions here. Special thanks to people who take the time to subscribe, rate, and review. That really helps a new podcast like ours. (Hint, hint.)
Update: Elizabeth clarifies that Adam is protective, but not over-protective (she felt that she was a bit harsh in episode 20).
Try This at Home: Choose an office TV show. Elizabeth’s office watches Game of Thrones, and everyone has fun discussing it. Or maybe a family TV show–my family’s TV show isThe Office. (Listen to the bonus clip.) Or you could have an office podcast!
Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer to savor or spree when you’re enjoying certain pleasures? This is related to, but not exactly the same as, theabstainer vs. moderator distinction, which relates to how you most easily resist a strong temptation. I write a lot about this kind of distinction in Better Than Before.
Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth regrets that she didn’t make a bigger effort to make friends with the very nice parents at her son’s pre-school. Now he’s off to kindergarten, so the opportunity has passed.
Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to my husband, for being super lovely-dovey — which, if you met him, might come as a surprise. He doesn’t seem like he’d be a big “mushball” (Elizabeth’s term).
As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Wish you cooked more?Get all the delicious, fresh ingredients you need to make great meals, delivered to your front door. Check out BlueApron.com/happier to get your first two meals free.
Also, thanks to Audible.com,with more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio products. Get a free audio-book of your choice by visitingAudible.com/happier.
We’d love to hear from you: What’s your office or family TV show? What loophole do you invoke–while traveling, or generally?
Comment below. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s theFacebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.”
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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to “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!
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