Tag Archives: parenting

A Little Happier: Some Sage Parenting Advice from My Father.

My father gave me some wise advice when he told me, “As a parent, at some point, you have to switch from advisor to cheerleader.”

I hear advice all the time: “Parents need to let children make their own mistakes, let children fail, give them independence,” etc., but I understood that idea much better when my father put it into those terms.

And thinking about my own experience as I was switching from law to writing, I realize how valuable it was for me — when my parents acted as cheerleaders rather than advisors when I was making a challenging decision.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I realize that this is far easier said than done.

Have you had to hold yourself back from giving advice to your children, or other family members?

 

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

 Happier listening!

I Forgot to Take My Own Advice.

Yesterday was Halloween.

In The Happiness Project, I write about celebrating “holiday breakfasts” — when, for minor holidays, I make breakfast fun for my family by putting holiday decorations  on the table and using theme colors (I dye the peanut butter black, dye the milk green, etc.). I keep it simple, so it doesn’t become a stressful obligation.

In the most recent episode of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, my sister Elizabeth and I talked about the fun of holiday breakfasts, and I described my Halloween traditions.

One of the main themes of my happiness project is memory. Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age. My shorthand for this worry is The days are long, but the years are short (of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people).

Celebrating minor holidays is one way to make time stand out. Because this day was unusual, it’s more memorable.

Another theme of my happiness project is light-heartedness. Instead of marching around checking things off my to-do list all the time, I want to take time for silliness, for fun, for adventures.

Holiday breakfasts are fun, make time special, and are manageable.

But here’s the thing. I know all this — and yet yesterday morning, I completely forgot to celebrate the holiday breakfast! That morning, I realized that it was Halloween, but it never once occurred to me to set up the decorations.

After all that discussion — I just forgot.

I realized by mid-day, when my daughters were already at school, so I set everything up later.  But I’m still kicking myself. Breakfast is more fun than dinner! Sheesh.

But oh well. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, I bet I won’t forget again. And I still took photos, and we got to enjoy the skeleton plates and pumpkin heads.

As you can see in the photo, our dog Barnaby was very intrigued by the holiday breakfast dinner decorations.

After the podcast episode, many people sent me photos of their holiday breakfasts, and I’ve loved seeing them (plus I’m planning to steal some of the ideas).

Do you celebrate holiday breakfasts? Or do you do something similar to make time special — in a manageable way?

A Little Happier: Having More Doesn’t Always Make Us Happier.

I wrote about this story in my book The Happiness Project; its lesson is just as true for adults as for children.

I’ve never forgotten about that little boy saying sadly, “I can’t love lots of cars.”

If you like this story, and would like to hear more wisdom from the teacher who told it to me, you can check out the excellent book that she wrote with her colleague: Practical Wisdom for Parents: Raising Self-Confident Children in the Preschool Years, by Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum.

If you want to get the  Moment of Happiness newsletter, where I email you a quote about happiness or human nature every morning, sign up here. I love gathering and sharing quotations.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

Podcast 29: Why Elizabeth and I Lower the Bar, Use the Clean Slate to Change Habits, and Try to Stop Wasting Food.

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

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 to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin: Episode 29

jacketphotobuildingsUpdate: After many months, I realized that the buildings pictured on the cover of The Happiness Project are just a few blocks from the studio where we record this podcast. Fun!

Try This at Home: Lower the bar. In other words — cribbing from Voltaire — don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (Thanks to our producer Henry, for the hilariously appropriate musical accompaniment.)

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of the Clean Slate means that any transition is a great time to change a habit. It’s a powerful strategy, but one that’s not always available to us, so it plays to be on the watch for opportunities.

Listener Questioner: “Any tips for cultivating happiness when you have small children?”

We mention this little one-minute video I made, which, of everything I’ve written, probably resonates most with people: The days are long, but the years are short.

Gretchen’s Demerit: We waste food. Any suggestions?

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s writing partner Sarah lives in a neighborhood that had a neighborhood-wise garage sale.

I mention the delightful picture book by Cynthia Rylant, Poppleton in Spring. I love all the Poppleton books.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out  The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including The Science of Mindfulness, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — do you lower the bar?  In what circumstances?

There’s lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

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 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!

Podcast 28: Don’t Interview for Pain, Face the Challenge of Shared Work, and Whether to Keep Ice Cream in the Freezer.

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

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 to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin: Episode 28

Update: Elizabeth is an Obliger, and we’re holding her accountable for writing her novel — she explains why, in fact, she has not yet started.

Try This at Home:  Don’t interview for pain.

I’m quoting from Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill Grace’s terrific Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children. I love this book.

Here’s the passage I read:

I believe that we live the story we tell ourselves–and others–about the life we’re leading…If you constantly interview your child for pain, your child may begin to hear a story of social suffering emerge from her own mouth. Soon she will begin to believe it and will see herself as a victim….

 

Please understand that I am not advising you to disbelieve our children, nor am I saying that you should not be empathic…But…don’t interview for pain, don’t nurture resentments, and don’t hold on to ancient history. Kids don’t.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Navigating the challenges of shared work.  This is a very common stumbling block!

Listener Questioner: “My husband loves to have ice cream in the freezer, but I find myself in the kitchen with a spoon at 10:00 a.m. because I just cannot get the ice cream out of my head.” To hear the Abstainer vs. Moderator discussion, it’s in episode 2.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth was so stressed about her family being on time for the first day of kindergarten that they showed up too early.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I love my special drawer. Can you think of a better name? Special drawer is a little…generic.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out  The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including The Science of Mindfulness, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

Also check out Warby Parker, a new concept in eye wear. Most Warby Parker classic styles start at $95, including prescription lenses, and you order on-line. Go to warbyparker.com/happier to choose your five free home-try-on frames. Send the frames back, choose your favorite pair, and order.

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — have you ever found yourself interviewing for pain?  In what circumstances? Also, please send dog advice and dog reading suggestions!

There’s lots of ways to share your responses:

 

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 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!