Tag Archives: order

Podcast #10: Special Episode! Live from Elizabeth’s Cluttered Closet.

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having a great time doing our new podcast,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Elizabethclosetbefore1Today’s episode is completely different from our usual format. Because I was in Los Angeles for my book tour for Better Than Before,  we were in the same place (which we usually aren’t). And Elizabeth had the brilliant idea that we should record ourselves as we observed one of our familiar sisterly rituals: whenever I visit Elizabeth, we clean out her closet.Elizabethclosetbefore2

So this episode comes straight to you from the depths of Elizabeth’s closet. Which happens to be a walk-in closet in Encinco, California.

I’ve always loved before-and-after photos, and here are some from her closet.

Among other things, we discuss why, trivial as it may be, cleaning out a closet is likely to make you happier; why you should designate a recipient for your give-aways, before you start clearing; why you should actively ponder your stuff; why it’s helpful to store something in an exact place; why you shouldn’t get organized — plus there’s  a shoe-sorting montage. elizabethclosetafter1

We had a great time doing this — though I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than Elizabeth did. Note that we both wore Kansas City shirts, in honor of this occasion.elizabethclosetafter2

We’re thrilled–we’ve hit more than 600,000 downloads, in just eight episodes! Thanks for listening! And we’ve heard from so many listeners — which we love. (By the way: if you like the podcast, we’re sheepishly asking people to rate and/or review it, if time and inclination permit; that’s very helpful for a new podcast like ours.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors! Like Smith and Noble. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation.

And to Travel Zoo. Head to www.travelzoo.com to sign up for a free membership–or download the highly rated Travel Zoo app.

Want to get in touch? Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Phone: 774-277-9336 (774 HAPPY 336). Click here for the Facebook Page — post your own “before and after” closet photos, we’d love to see them. Or comment right here.

And we would love to hear from you — about whether you were inspired to clear a closet– and if so, if it made you happier — your questions, and any other comments.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what you can usually 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).

Each week, we give  a “Try This at Home” suggestion, for some easy habit you can try, as part of your ordinary routine, to boost your happiness—something like setting an alarm to signal your bedtime, or using the one-minute rule, to help yourself stay on top of small nagging tasks.

We also suggest questions to help you “Know Yourself Better”—like “Whom do you envy?” and “Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter in your work style?”—and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks,” those small, seemingly insignificant parts of daily life that drag us down—everything from aforementioned problem of the Evil Donut-Bringer to the fact that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

We “Grill the Guest” (well, we plan to — we haven’t had a guest yet), consider “Listener Questions,” and finally, we get even more personal, and each of us either gives ourselves a “Demerit” for a mistake we made that week, that affected our happiness, or awards a “Gold Star” to someone or something that deserves recognition.

We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

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. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want 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.

Tell us what you think! Drop us a line at @gretchenrubin, @elizabethcraft, Facebook, podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or call 774-277-9336. Or just add your comment to this post.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. 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.)

Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!

Secret of Adulthood: Someplace, Keep an Empty Shelf.

Further Secrets of Adulthood: Someplace, keep an empty shelf.

Now, what’s so great about an empty shelf? An empty shelf shows that I have room to expand — I’m not crowded in by my stuff, I have order and space. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, a subject that I explore at some length in Happier at Home and also in Better Than Before. (If you want to know when Better Than Before goes on sale, sign up here.)

Some people say, “Gretchen, do you really have an empty shelf?” I really do (though I have to protect it against my husband, who never sees an empty shelf without wanting to stick something on it). If you want to see it, watch here at minute 6:41.

The opposite of a profound truth is also true, however, so someplace, I also keep a junk drawer.

How about you? Do you have an empty shelf, a junk drawer, or both?

Former Navy SEAL and I Agree on an Important Habit. Not What You Might Expect.

Whenever I talk to people about their happiness projects, I ask, “What have you tried? What works for you?”

People tell me a million things they’ve done, but to my astonishment, the one resolution that comes up the most often — and this isn’t the most significant thing you could do to boost your happiness, but it does seem to be the thing that people most often try, and that does work — is to make your bed.

“Make the bed” is one of the most popular happiness-project resolutions, and in fact, the habit of bed-making is correlated with a sense of greater well-being and higher productivity.

I write a lot about this issue of “making your bed” in The Happiness Project and in Happier at Home — and it also comes up in my forthcoming book about habit-formation — so I got a big kick out of seeing that when Naval Adm. William McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, gave the commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin a few days ago, he specifically mentioned the resolution to…make your bed.

Here’s the video, here’s what he says:

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I also think that for many people — like me — an unmade bed is a broken window, which is why “Make the bed” is one of the most popular happiness-project resolutions, and in fact, the habit of bed-making is correlated with a sense of greater well-being and higher productivity.

 

(Now, some people say that, to the contrary, they revel in not making their beds. One of my Secrets of Adulthood is The opposite of a profound truth is also true, and for some people, a useful resolution might be “Don’t make your bed.” One person wrote to me, “My mother was so rigid about keeping the house tidy when I was a child that now I get a huge satisfaction from not making my bed, not hanging up my coat, etc. It makes me feel free.” Some people thrive on a little chaos. Everyone’s happiness project is different.)

What about you? Does making your bed – or not making your bed – contribute in a small way to your happiness? Or have you found other manageable resolutions that have brought more happiness than you would’ve expected?

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Secret of Adulthood: Outer Order Contributes to Inner Calm.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:

 

This is one of the things that has surprised me most about happiness and habits. For most people, an orderly environment helps them feel more energetic, more creative, and more cheerful. This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for most people.

In my forthcoming book about how we make and break habits, I explore the Strategy of Foundation. I argue that habits in four key areas — sleep, move, eat and drink right, and unclutter — strengthen our self-command, and therefore help us to keep our good habits. (To hear when my habits book goes on sale, sign up here.)

Of course, a major challenge with Foundation habits is that, ironically, they’re often the very habits that we’re trying to adopt. Outer order contributes to inner calm, true, but having inner calm makes it much easier to create outer order.

Do you find that working on the area of “unclutter” helps you? Does outer order contribute to your inner calm?

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“There Is a Charm, Even for Homely Things, in Perfect Maintenance.”

“There is a charm, even for homely things, in perfect maintenance.”

— Louis Auchincloss, The House of Five Talents

Agree, disagree?

I feel this very strongly myself, and I write about it quite a lot in The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Well-made, suitable tools make work a joy; keeping things in their proper places makes a place seem more inviting; old, strong objects serving their purpose feel almost alive.

When I was home in Kansas City recently, I used a particular small pan that my parents have had as long as I can remember. It made me so happy to see it! It was the perfect size and weight for certain kinds of jobs, and was as serviceable as it had ever been, after decades of constant use.

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