Tag Archives: growth

Agree? “The Serious Problems in Life Are Never Fully Solved.”

“The serious problems in life, however, are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrification.”

–Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche

Agree, disagree?

E. M. Forster Explains How To Know If a Book Is Influencing You.

“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have got ourselves. I suggest, furthermore, that when you feel that you could almost have written the book yourself—that’s the moment when it’s influencing you. You are not influenced when you say, ‘How marvelous! What a revelation! How monumental! Oh!’ You are being extended. You are being influenced when you say ‘I might have written that myself if I hadn’t be so busy.'”

– E. M. Forster, “A Book That Influenced Me,” from Two Cheers for Democracy

Does this ring true for you?

I have to say, I think that people sometimes get that feeling from my books, especially The Happiness Project. People often say to me,  “Wow, I could’ve written a book like yours myself.” And I always think, “Terrific, you should!”

One of my favorite happiness-project resolutions is to “Imitate a spiritual master,” and I feel influenced (I hope) every time I read Story of a Soul, the memoir of my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux. She’s a great saint and a Doctor of the Church and I’m me, of course, but still, when I read St. Therese, I think, “That’s exactly right, I’ve thought the same thing myself, I’ve struggled with that impulse, too. ”

What books have influenced you — or extended you?

Podcast 84: Why It’s Easier to Do Something EVERY Day, Keep a Trash Bag in the Car, and How to Deal with a Tardy Friend.

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

Update: If you live near Seattle, please come to our live event! We’ll be recording an episode of the podcast live on stage at Seattle’s Town Hall on October 13, 7:30. Tickets are $25. More info and buy tickets here. Please come, bring your friends. We hope to sell t-shirts — cash only, if we do manage to pull it together.

In episode 76, we talked about manifestos, and if you’re coming to the Seattle event, we’d love to highlight a few manifestos from listeners. So send us your manifesto for work, life, parenting, marriage, exercise, clutter-clearing — whatever! And maybe we’ll talk about it with you on stage.

Try This at Home: It’s often easier to do something every day than to do it some days. I mention The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record. A lot of people have told me that this daily, manageable structure makes it easier to keep a journal.

Happiness Hack: Daphne suggests keeping a garbage bag in the car.

Happiness Stumbling Block: The “China Syndrome” — the fantasy that we’ll automatically become adults. (By the way, I’m having my book group over tonight, and I will use my wedding china.)

Listener Question: Jessica asks “How can I handle my annoyance with my good friend who is always late?”

Gretchen’s  Demerit: I rehearse angry thoughts in my head.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her friend Karine for doing the research to find a vacation rental for their two families.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #84

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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!

A Question I’m Often Asked: 17 Fun Places to Visit in New York City.

Readers who know I live in New York City often write to say, “I’m coming to New York. What should I do while I’m in town?”

I don’t have a lot of obscure recommendations to make — you’ve probably heard of all these suggestions — but for what it’s worth, here are some of my favorite places to visit.

If you’re thinking about planning a trip, research suggests that doing new and challenging things, like traveling, tend to boost happiness. It’s the atmosphere of growth! So it’s true that your adventure will probably make you happier.

  1. No surprise, I have to list the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Natural History. They’re both spectacular; inexhaustible; breath-taking.
  2. The High Line is a recent addition to the attractions of New York City. It’s an elevated park built along an old railroad line — which means it’s an outdoor experience, so take that into consideration.
  3. Central Park is a gorgeous place to visit. My favorite place there — and maybe in the whole city — is Bethesda Fountain. I also love the Alice in Wonderland Statue by the pond for model boats, also Conservatory Garden.
  4. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum — unforgettable.
  5. Walk around Chinatown. So fun.
  6. Ditto the Meatpacking District. (See #2 and #8.)
  7. The Frick Collection is a small museum, very quiet and peaceful. No kids allowed however (which is part of why it’s so peaceful, I suppose).
  8. The Whitney Museum of American Art is in its new location downtown.
  9. My favorite independent bookstore is Crawford Doyle — a wonderful bookstore, just a few blocks from my apartment.
  10. In Brooklyn, it’s really fun to walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, to look at the water and the Manhattan skyline.
  11. It’s also fun to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
  12.  I’ve been to Ellis Island twice — so thought-provoking, all about the immigrant experience. I’ve never actually visited the Statue of Liberty, but you get a great view of it from Ellis Island.
  13. Not as historically educational, but also fun, is Ripley’s Believe or Not. Also, Ripley’s is located in Times Square, and…
  14. No visit to New York City is complete without a visit to Times Square.
  15. In the end, one of my favorite things to do in New York City is just to start in one place and walk for hours in one direction. In the space of just a few blocks, the eco-system of the neighborhoods change dramatically. It’s fun just to see what’s around you. And along the same lines…
  16. Visit a grocery store, a drug store, and a toy store. Especially if you’re from another country (but even if you’re just visiting from someplace else), it’s surprisingly fascinating to look at these everyday places.
  17. And even if you live in New York City yourself, try visiting these places — or find new places to visit. In Happier at Home, I write about why it’s a happiness-booster to be a tourist without leaving home.

What have I overlooked — what places would you add to this list?

5 Reasons Why Going to a Podcasting Conference Made Me Happier.

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 Panoply team.

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.

Bonus happiness boost: Elizabeth made t-shirts with our “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” logo. Corny but fun.

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?