Explore the “Prompts” at Reverb 10 — and Identify a Prompt for Yourself.

Last week’s suggested resolution was to Choose one word to set the tone for next year.

If you’re intrigued with this approach, check out the fabulous site of Reverb 10 – the annual initiative to inspire people to reflect on the past year, and to decide how to approach the next year. You can follow along, or you can sign up to join officially. (To follow on Twitter, @reverb10).

At Reverb 10, for each day of December, a different writer suggests a “prompt” – one word or phrase to consider as the year moves from 2010 to 2011. I was thrilled to be asked to suggest today’s prompt, and my prompt is “Make.” “What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?” Other prompts so far have included “Let go,” “Wonder,” “Moment,” “Writing.”

My friend, the brilliant Gwen Bell, is the founder and one of the organizers of Reverb 10.

Mindfulness! Always, with happiness, mindfulness. The more mindfully I reflect on the past, and consider how I would like to shape the future, the happier I am.

Tools like Reverb 10’s prompts for self-reflection, or a one-word theme for the year, are helpful as creative and provocative ways to stimulate mindfulness.

What prompt would you offer?

* Sign up for the Moment of Happiness, and each weekday morning, you’ll get a happiness quotation in your email inbox. Sign up here or email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. I just started this a few weeks ago — and am thrilled that thousands of people have signed up already.

  • Jul


  • Embrace

    • gretchenrubin

      Love this.

  • Today, in light of the news about Elizabeth Edwards, I would say “RESILIENCE.”

    • gretchenrubin

      This is such a good one, too. So many great ideas.

  • Thank you, Gretchen. Thank you, thank you.

  • Be. What do you want to be in your life, and what action can you begin taking today to find your way there?

    Or, conversely, in another sense of being, what can you do today to appreciate who and where you are right now?

  • Paul

    I’m not sure I can narrow it down to a single word without it being so broad as to be meaningless. Can I use three words instead?

    How about:

    “Begin; Repeat; Complete.”

    “Begin” to get me started on those projects and ideas that so often never get completed because they’re never even begun.

    “Repeat” to remind me that those projects once begun but now seemingly abandoned (whether for days, weeks, or months) are not necessarily doomed to failure. All that’s needed is a new beginning.

    “Complete” to remind me of the end result or goal of each project — something that often gets overlooked as I get bogged down in process.

  • Isabel

    Earlier today I read your post on finding one word that would set tone for next year and I thought hard about it.

    I decided “Follow-Through.”

    If I were to grade myself on my “follow-through,” it would be poor. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when I make it a priority.

  • Just wanted to say thank you – because both you and reverb10 triggered so many breakthroughs. Keep triggering.

  • Lcasarnoffr


  • emd04

    It’s so funny that today’s prompt, “make” was written by you, and YOU inspired my make for 2010! Ha! 🙂

  • Gretchin Rubin, your name keeps coming up everywhere – in a good way. I was delighted to see you were a part of the #Reverb10 prompts. My twin and I have been visiting your site and using your wisdoms and enjoying your book all this year. Many thanks yet again. You keep giving and we appreciate it muchly!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks very much! I so appreciate your kind words.

  • Mary from Oakland


    Reduce clutter in my home. Reduce clutter on my hips. Reduce unneccesary commitments. Reduce aimlessness. Reduce overbooking my time and money.

    Of course, there are positive corrolaries (spelling?), but my personal need at the moment is to focus on reduction – trimming back – letting go.

    • Marci

      “Reduce” in cooking means reducing volume to intensify the flavor. Works in life too…. 🙂

      • gretchenrubin

        I never thought of that! Helpful idea.

  • I love prompts in general…for writing, for creating, so why not for living? I like the idea of approaching the day, week, year with one word as a backdrop.

  • Accelerate

  • I liked one you said.



  • Gretchen, I closed your book with a delighted, contented sigh this time last year. I had a path for the year ahead. I chose my ten personal commandments. I saw I could take my happiness in my own two hands. That it wasn’t self-obsessive to do so. That it was, in fact, vital to my well-being and to the work that I could do in the world. I started #best09 last year just before reading your book. This year, #reverb10, I know has elements of you and your work in it.

    The questions you asked, the research you did, the way you show up on the Web – and in person. All of it. I just want to let you know it matters to me. Yours was – is – and I believe will be – the last self-help book I’ll read. Because you reminded me of a different path.

    I can choose happiness. And I do. Each day. I’m indebted.

    • gretchenrubin

      Gwen! I’m so thrilled to hear that my work resonates with you. Getting to
      know you has been one of the highlights of my happiness project. You are a
      massive spreader of happiness!

  • Gretchen, I’ve been thinking about my word, and here are a couple words that come to mind: Cultivate and Beckon (as in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s The Beckoning of Lovely”)

    Have you heard of the artist Nikki McClure? http://www.nikkimcclure.com
    She creates amazing papercut visuals, many times with a single word attached. Here’s an example of one with the word “Breathe”: http://www.nikkimcclure.com/portfolio/?img=breathe
    And she makes beautiful calendars in this style, too.

    Thank you for your continued inspiration!

  • Petra


  • The Prompt that I am thinking of would be

    – Be –

    I do think that the one word or phrase to set the tone can be an interesting approach for focussing attention.

    Especially an interesting approach to use for specific Segments of life. (for example as I read in the example when your want to make your year ‘Wheels Year’.)

    Only it also does sounds a little frightning to me as if wanting to Programm a ‘Single Purpose Robot’, that doesn’t look like a Human worthy simplification. I think that Humans are (or atleast used to be) more multi-dimensional. (Think of Charly Chaplin’s Movie
    ‘Modern Times’)

    So what’s wrong with
    only using the ‘Be-Prompt’?

    Well for example it also could use Self-reflection, and possibly several other additional things that makes a Human a Human.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,

  • Pam Korte1


  • Loving the process and creative prompts.

    If I could only choose one, I’d go with:


    Defining, exploring context and digging deeper on what we view as being innately human … interesting responses I’m sure.

  • Authentic

  • MyCloseStrangers

    My word is love. Love in the verb form. Love as action infusing everything I do and say and write. In 2011, I’m looking to act more for the good of the other, recognizing and honoring the belovedness of everyone around me. I want to see my own belovedness more clearly, stepping out with freedom and confidence to cultivate joy in and through my life. I want to find love for my body despite its failings under the strain of chronic disease. I want to love what I do, love the process of living in the face of illness. Love God, love neighbor, love self, love life – that’s the reverb for 2011.