Tag Archives: habits

Frequently Asked Question: How Do I Read So Much?

I have a new habit that I truly love: every Sunday night, I post a photo on my Facebook Page of all the books I’ve read that week. Doing this gives me enormous satisfaction.

Because of my also-fairly-new habit of quitting any book I don’t enjoy, if you see a book in the photo, it means that I enjoyed it enough to finish it.  No matter when I started a book, I post its picture for the week that I finished it.

Some weeks I read very little; some weeks, I read a lot. I often read several books at one time (a habit I picked up from my husband).

On weeks when I’ve read a lot, people often ask, “How do you read so much?” Some people have even accused me of…not telling the truth. Which I find hilarious, I must say. If you look at the books pictured, you can just tell that I’m telling the truth.

But here’s the thing: I have no idea when or how I read.

I feel like I have no time to read. In fact, when I was working on Better Than Before, I tried to keep a time log to track when I read. And somehow, I could never manage to pull that off.

I did come up with all sorts of habits to help me read more. I stopped finishing books I don’t like, as mentioned; I do “Study Reading” every weekend; I put reading time on my schedule.

But still, I feel like I’m never reading.

I do know that I get more reading done when I’m traveling.

And I read more when I’m going through one of my periodic obsessions — such as my recent obsession with May Sarton’s journals, or memoirs of people about their dogs, or the novels of Sharon Shinn (still working on that one).

And my reading is also influenced by my writing. I read a lot more when I’m in the research phase for a book; on the other hand, when I’m doing heavy writing or editing, I tend to read less, or to read less challenging books.

I’m not trained as a speed reader, but I must read fairly fast.

I check out books from the library, and I think that helps me keep up my pace; I feel like I have to keep pushing ahead, or they’ll become overdue.

Unlike many people, I almost never read much before I turn out the light. By the time I’m in bed, I’m ready to go to sleep. However, I love to read in bed at any other time of day.

I keep lists of books that I want to read, so I often have an almost panicky sense of wanting to read more, more, more.

For me, reading a book often counts as a “billable hour” –when  it’s a book that supports my writing or thinking, it doesn’t count as pure leisure. It’s easier to justify reading during the work day when that’s true.

So I don’t have a very satisfying answer to the question. I’m unsatisfied by my answer to that question. When the heck do I read? I feel like I never read, and yet I see that yes, books do get read. It’s a real mystery to me.

What are your secrets and tricks for getting more reading done? I’d love to know. And if you want to read more about reading more, here are 13 tips for getting more reading done. You may also enjoy Daniel Pennac’s 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

 

Podcast 49: Live from San Francisco! Travel without Tears, the Challenge of Public Speaking, and Special Guests.

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

Our live show! Boy, Elizabeth and I had a great time. Hear us live, at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. It was such a treat for us to get to record an episode in front of actual live listeners.

Usually, we do a Very Special Episode for every tenth episode. This is episode 49, but hey, close enough.

I mention one of my favorite episodes, episode 10, when we cleaned Elizabeth’s closet. Want to hear it? Listen here. Here’s a photo where you can see our special outfits.GretchenandElizabethPodcastLiveEventAfter (We’re standing in the amazing Walgreens in Union Square that Elizabeth mentions during the podcast.)

Try This at Home: Travel without tears. We talked about TSA pre-check in episode 11. I mention Nick’s Sticks. Yum.

Interview: Nir Eyal. Nir has founded and sold two technology companies, and he writes for a bunch of different places, teaches at places like Stanford, and consults to startups, venture capital firms, and incubators about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He has a great blog, Nir and Far, and he wrote Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. And he talks about being a Rebel. Fascinating. (Note: Henry had a little fun choosing Nir’s theme music.)

Nir’s Try This at Home: Burn or burn. A very Rebel Try This at Home.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Public speaking.

If you want to watch my interview with Matt Lauer (which I can’t bear to watch myself), you can see the whole thing here.

I mention Kelly McGonigal’s fascinating book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get at It.

Interview: Jake Knapp. Jake is a designer and facilitator here in SF. While working at Google, he created a “design sprint” — a five-day process to help teams answer big questions in just five days — used in the development of everything from Gmail to Chrome. Now Jake’s a design partner at Google Ventures, where he’s run more than 100 sprints with GV portfolio companies. He’s written Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days to explain how to do a sprint.

Jake’s Try This at Home: “Turn off the internet.”

Elizabeth mentions one of our very favorite podcasts, Start Up. If you want to listen to the episode where Jake and his team do a sprint with Gimlet, it’s #13, “Fake It Til You Make It.”

New Year’s Resolutions Booster for Two Audience Members:

Erin: Her New Year’s resolutions are to slow down, focus on family, and not sweat the small stuff.

Lauren: Her New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with her friends.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth used the loophole “I’m out of town!” to indulge in some bad eating habits.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to my husband’s liver doctor, Dr. Leona Kim-Schluger. Such a brilliant, caring doctor. If you want to give yourself a gold star, and if you support organ donation, sign the organ-donor registry here or use the hashtag #organdonor on social media.

Thanks to the audience, for being so terrific. We had so much fun. If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter or share the image below on Pinterest. 

1pixHappier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin #49

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors:

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid post-office pain, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

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And check out Audible.com. Audible has more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio-products. Go to Audible.com/happier to get a free 30-day trial. Audible was also our live event sponsor, so special thanks, Audible!

We love hearing from listeners!

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

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!

HAPPIER listening!

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

One major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider:

1. Make a habit of nurturing others.

Offer to take care of the neighbor’s children once a week; teach a class, volunteer, get a dog. Giving support to others helps create a feeling of connection. For happiness generally, it’s just as important to give support as to get support. Along those lines…

2. Make a habit of connecting with other people (to state the obvious).

Show up at the weekly office coffee hour, join a book group, sign up for an exercise session, take a minute each morning to chat to a co-worker.

3. Make a habit of getting better sleep.

One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue. (Here are some tips on getting good sleep.)

4. Make a habit of staying open.

Unfortunately–and this may seem counter-intuitive--loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental.  Lonely people, it turns out, are far less accepting of potential new friends than people who aren’t lonely.If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

5. Making a habit of asking yourself, “What’s missing in my life?”

If you’re feeling lonely, is it because you miss having a best friend, or you miss being part of a group, or you miss having a place to go where everyone is familiar, or you miss having a romantic partner, or you miss having the quiet presence of someone else hanging around the house with you? There are many kinds of loneliness. It may be painful to think about, but once you understand what you’re missing, it’s easier to see how to address it. Through habits or otherwise.

If you find it tough to stick to a habit like “attending the weekly office coffee hour,” my book Better Than Before can help (I hope). There, I explain all the strategies we can use to make or break a habit. It’s not that hard to master a habit, when you know what to do.

For instance, you might use the Strategy of Scheduling, the Strategy of Monitoring, the Strategy of Convenience — and you should definitely use the Strategy of Treats — which is the most fun strategy.

If you want to read more about the subject of loneliness, I highly recommend two books: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily White, Lonely (a memoir). Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good habits for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?

Why Joining a Habits Group Can Help You Change Your Habits — and How to Start One.

One of the best ways to build good habits and happiness effectively – and also one of the most fun ways – is to join or start a group for people who want to change their habits.

I get a lot of requests for the starter kit, from people who want to launch a Better Than Before habits group, where people work on their habits together. Want one? Request it here.

These Better Than Before habits groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give energy and encouragement, and – probably most important – hold each other accountable. (Think AA and Weight Watchers.)

No surprise, many of these requests come from Obligers, who now see that external accountability is the key to sticking to their good habits — they want to form the group that will give them that crucial accountability. Which is a great idea.

Some solutions for accountability — like hiring a coach, working with a trainer, or taking a class — work extremely well, but they carry a cost; starting a habits group is free. And it’s fun.

Group members don’t have to be working toward the same aims; it’s enough that they hold each other accountable. My sister told me about her friend who’s in an accountability group where she’s being held accountable for working on a novel, while another member is being held accountable for getting massages, going to movies, etc. This may sound preposterous, but it’s actually brilliant — if you find it impossible to make time for yourself unless someone else holds you accountable, figure out a way to get that accountability!

Also, while accountability partners can also work well, pairs don’t offer the same stability of accountability. If your partner loses interest, gets distracted, or is absent for a time, your accountability vanishes.  With a group, you’re not as dependent on one person’s engagement.

If you’re part of a habits group, I’d love to hear about your experiences. What works, what doesn’t work? Are there resources I could provide that would be helpful?

For instance, I’ve been considering making a video that talks about groups, and why they’re so effective, and how to build them.

Sidenote: If you’re reading the book in any kind of group, and your group would like signed bookplates to make the books feel more personal, request them here (I’m so sorry–I can offer this for U.S. and Canada only, because of mailing costs). Or request a bookplate for yourself, or a gift, if you want.

Keep me posted about your group! I’m wildly interested to hear what everyone’s doing. Comment below or email me to let me know.

Podcast 47: Control Your Exit, Keep Things Convenient–and Elizabeth Misses Out on a Romantic Moment.

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

Update: We’re thrilled! Our first live show has SOLD OUT. Yowza! If you’re coming to the Brava Theater on January 21, when we record an episode live, want a chance to be on the show? Send us an email with your New Year’s resolution, and maybe we’ll get to talk about it on stage. Send an email to podcast@gretchenrubincom, with the subject line “New Year’s resolution.”

A few episodes ago, I asked listeners to help: I’m looking for ideas for how to title the book I’m writing about the Four Tendencies. I want it to be “The Four ____ Tendencies” or “The Four Tendencies of ____.” I’m looking for a word that’s concrete, interesting, and describes what the Tendencies are about. Keep those suggestions coming!

Elizabeth got her car serviced, got her hair cut and colored, and started her new eating plan — using full Obliger accountability.

Try This at Home: Control your exit.

Side-note: We’ve heard that perhaps France doesn’t actually have this orange-juice ritual. Anyone know for sure?

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Convenience. One of the most powerful and universally applicable strategies.

Elizabeth and I discuss our new hard-boiled-egg-makers. On the advice of a listener, I got the Krups egg cooker.  I love it, but will admit that in true satisficer mode, I didn’t do any research — I just bought the one recommended to me.

Special Guest: Mary Harris, host of the terrific health podcast Only Human, came by to tell us about an interesting project they’re doing, about making good fitness habits. To join the project, go to onlyhuman.org/sticktoit.

If you want to read my interview with Daniel Ariely, it’s here.

Elizabeth’s Demerit : Over the holidays in Kansas City, Adam proposed getting a quick drink to wait out the rain, but Elizabeth thought they should hurry home.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I copied a listener’s gold star for museum memberships. Thanks, Jennifer!

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out The Great Courses Plus for a wide variety of fascinating courses taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: free access to one of their most popular courses! To get The Everyday Gourmet for free, go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier Limited time.

Also check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid post-office pain, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin #47 - Listen at GretchenRubin.com

 

We love hearing from listeners

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

1pix

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

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!