Tag Archives: quotations

Podcast 74: Choose the Quote for Your Yearbook Page, Use the Strategy of Pairing, and Some Thoughts about the Four Tendencies.

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

Update: If you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, it’s here, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. What would be some good questions to pose to children, to help identify their Tendencies?

Try This at Home: Pick your “yearbook quote.” What quote would you choose? Among others mentioned, Elizabeth’s quotation comes from Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House. Let us know: what quote would you choose?

If you want to sign up for the “Moment of Happiness,” my free daily email newsletter with a terrific quotation, sign up here.

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Pairing is one of the simplest — and for many people, one of the most effective — of the 21 strategies of habit change that I identify in Better Than Before.

Listener Question: Laura asks, “Elizabeth and Gretchen, what are the Tendencies of your parents?” Interesting question. Again, if you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, it’s here

Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m kicking myself for not realizing that Eleanor won’t have a way to take photos at summer camp — they have a strict no-cell-phone policy.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her writing partner Sarah for encouraging her to go to the Podcast Movement conference.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #74

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Is There One “Best” Type of Temperament? Or Tendency?

“Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation…It does not matter how poor or how difficult a temperament we may be endowed with. If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”

–Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

This passage from Merton caught my attention, because of my Four Tendencies framework for personality.

In that framework, I divide all of humanity into four types: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. (Want to find out what you are? The Quiz is here. Almost 500,000 people have taken it.)

People often ask me questions like, “What’s the best Tendency?” “Which Tendency tends to be the most successful?” “Which Tendency has the happiest people?”

And I always answer, “There’s no best Tendency.  Each Tendency includes people who are happy and unhappy, and successful and unsuccessful. What matters is that each of us harnesses the strengths of our Tendency and shores up the weaknesses, so we can have the life we want.”

Which is what Merton is talking about: “If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”

Merton was a Rebel, by the way. In the book that I’m writing about the Four Tendencies,  I discuss his Rebeldom. It’s fascinating. A Trappist monk, and a Rebel. It’s not as surprising as you might expect.

(One of the great pleasures of my life is to pursue my minor obsessions. Some of these minor obsessions include color, the sense of smell, pain, and also Thomas Merton. I’ve read a lot about Thomas Merton.)

Do you feel that you’re able to make good use of your temperament? It’s a great challenge–maybe the greatest challenge of our lives.

Do You Have an Intense Interest in a Subject–Such as Nature?

The other night, I had a fun dinner with my law-school roommate — the roommate who told me about how she had the signature color of fuschia, if you listened to that recent episode of the Happier podcast.

I was telling her how, thanks in part to her, I’d become enchanted with idea of color; it has become my latest obsession.  (Other recent obsessions include Thomas Merton, the sense of smell.)

For her part, she said, she’d been thinking about her interest in nature. Apparently, she loves nature! Which was something I’d never known about her. So, in my happiness bully way, I tried to convince her to pursue this love — learn more, take a class, plan a trip, whatever appealed to her.

She’s thinking about it. And as a follow-up from that conversation, I sent her one of my very favorite quotations about a love of nature, from the French painter Eugene Delacroix’s brilliant Journal.

“The Natural History Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays. Elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus; extraordinary animals! Rubens rendered them marvelously. I had a feeling of happiness as soon as I entered the place and the further I went the stronger it grew. I felt my whole being rise above commonplaces and trivialities and the petty worries of my daily life. What an immense variety of animals and species of different shapes and functions!”

Journal of Eugene Delacroix

Do you have a similar passion for the natural world? Or for color, or for stamps, or antique globes, or for anything else?

What Makes You Creative? What You’ve Seen and Remember–or Something Else?

‘Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory. Nothing can come of nothing; he who has laid up no materials, can produce no combinations.”

–Sir Joshua Reynolds, Discourse II

Some people argue that they’re more creative when they stay within the boundary of their own mind.

Do you agree with Sir Joshua Reynolds — that people are the most creative when they expose themselves to many outside influences or not?

Have You Ever Read Anything That Made You Think, “I Must Change My Life”?

A friend showed me the poem “The Archaic Torso of Apollo” on her phone, and told me, “I read this, and I know I want to change my life.”

I read it, too. That last line! It swept me off my feet.

Have you ever read anything that made you think, “I must change my life”?

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head

with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso

is still suffused with brilliance from inside,

like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

 

gleams in all its power. Otherwise

the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could

a smile run through the placid hips and thighs

to that dark center where procreation flared.

 

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced

beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders

and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

 

would not, from all the borders of itself,

burst like a star: for here there is no place

that does not see you. You must change your life.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

That final line! Rarely have I read a single line that was so powerful in its context.