Tag Archives: scent

Podcast 68: Show Up on Time, Treat Yourself, and Elizabeth Is Excited about a Scanning App.

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

Update: Keep sending us those “happiness hacks!” They’re fascinating. To hear about my happiness hack, it’s in episode 64.

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.

Also, for our next Very Special Episode, let us know: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? For work, love, parenting, life…what really made the difference? Email us at podcast @ gretchenrubin .com, comment below, or best of all, call us. We’d love to hear your voice as you tell the story.  (77 HAPPY 336).

Try This at Home: Show up on time. First question: why are you late?

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Treats. This is such a delightful strategy! One of our favorite topics.

MugObligerHappierIf you want to get your own Tendency mug, you can order one here.

Listener Questioner: Ashley is an Obliger, who wants budget better, but the idea of external accountability is tough; she doesn’t want anyone to tell her what to do. So how to get that accountability?

If you want the starter kit for launching a Better Than Before accountability group, it’s here.

 Gretchen’s  Demerit: I’ve procrastinated about getting Eleanor ready for sleep-away camp.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth uses the app iScanner to scan documents.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Sign up for The Great Courses Plus today and you’ll get unlimited access to thousands of fascinating lectures taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: Get One Month Free when you sign up at www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #68

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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!

Podcast 55: The Problem of Switching Bags, Do You Prefer Long or Short Discussions, and Scratch-n-Sniffs.

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

As we recorded this episode, Elizabeth was drinking coffee from her Happier with Gretchen Rubin mug! Inspired by Elizabeth’s longtime love of mugs, we decided to make a Happier mug. Want one yourself? Available here.

Try This at Home: Have a system for switching bags. We realized the importance of this try-this-at-home after Elizabeth experienced a near-disaster when we were together in San Francisco, the day of the live show. We suggest some tips — what are your tips? I’m sure there are many more great solutions.

Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer to discuss difficult subjects at length — or do you prefer to keep it short? Elizabeth and I are both long-discussers.

Listener Question: “I’m addicted to technology.”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth tells the story of the monkey and the banana — which reminded me of the “preciousss” in episode 17.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Scratch’n’sniffs! How I love scratch-n-sniffs. I mention my favorite scratch-n-sniff book,  The Sweet Smell of Christmas. In my book Happier at Home, I write a lot about the delight and power of scent. Elizabeth talks about one of her favorite scratch-n-sniff books, Professor Wormbog’s Gloomy Kerploppus.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - #55

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 watch The Science of Mindfulness and hundreds of other courses for free as part of a 30-day trial, go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier

And check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, 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 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

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 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!

Embrace Good Smells. In a Museum.

One of my very favorite resolutions is my resolution to Cultivate good smells. I’m obsessed with the delights of the sense of smell.

Loving beautiful fragrances quickly leads to a greater appreciation of perfume, and I’m now a perfume fanatic.

So you can imagine my delight at visiting the Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibit, The Art of Scent 1889-2012. The exhibit present twelve pivotal fragrances in history of scent.

I visited it for the second time last night, and had the chance to hear the brilliant Chandler Burr, organizer of the exhibit, explain why these particular perfumes were chosen. Jicky, Chanel No. 5, Drakkar Noir, Angel, Light Blue, L’Eau D’Issey, Osmanthe Yunnan, Untitled…such intriguing scents.

You might think, “How do you exhibit a perfume?” The room is spare, with a wood floor and white walls. Along the walls are twelve depressions; you lean your head into a depression, and a puff of perfume rises up.

It was such a pleasure to experience these perfumes in a beautiful place, and to learn about them and their histories. It also reminded me (though I don’t really need reminding) to appreciate the fragrances of my ordinary day, as well: the smell of vanilla, cinnamon, clean laundry, hardware store, baby lotion, my husband’s shampoo, rainstorm, flower shop.

What are some of your favorite smells from your ordinary day? Or favorite perfume or cologne?

Why I’m Sometimes Tempted to Fight My New Passion–And Why I’m Embracing It, Instead.

Assay: For the last month or so, I’ve been possessed with a passionate interest in the sense of smell. I follow the resolution to Cultivate good smells, I’ve read lots of books, I’ve started disciplining myself to be more aware of the smells that I encounter in my day, I’ve been eliminating sources of bad smell in my home (a very worthwhile endeavor, by the way), and I’ve also become interested in perfume.

I’ve never had much interest in perfume, but suddenly I am, because so much of the energy and writing around the subject of smell is related to perfume.

I’m newly fascinated by perfume, but I’m also fascinated by my own process of becoming fascinated. As Virginia Woolf noted in her Diary: “I must remember to write about my clothes next time I have an impulse to write. My love of clothes interests me profoundly: only it is not love, & what it is I must discover.”

Because of the happiness project, I spend a lot of time asking, “What elements are necessary for a happy life?” I’ve become convinced that one of the greatest supports to a person’s happiness is passion – whether for musical theater, video games, constitutional history, camping, stamps, shoe-shopping, teaching English as a second language, or whatever.

Now, it might seem that some passions are “better” than others – they help other people, or they’re of a “higher” nature, or they’re more healthy or wholesome. Maybe. But any passion is a great boon to happiness.

A passion gives you a reason to keep learning and to work toward mastery. It can often give you a reason to have the new experiences so key to happiness. It gives you something in common with other people, and so fosters social bonds. It gives you purpose. It often has a satisfying physical aspect—rock-climbing, fly-fishing, knitting, smelling. It gives meaningful structure to your time. It makes the world a richer place. When you’re in pain, it can be a refuge, a distraction, a solace.

So now, when I feel a flicker of interest, I pursue it. I used to fight these impulses, because I thought they were distractions from my “real” work, but now I know what joy they can bring.

So I let myself go. I’m swamped with work right now, but I reckon I’ve read more than a dozen books about the sense of smell and perfume in the last few weeks. I’ve dog-eared my copy of Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. I’ve made special trips to wonderful stores (very unusual for me, an inveterate under-buyer) like CB I Hate Perfume and Frederic Malle, and there are more places I want to go. I’ve spent way too much time on sites like Now Smell This and Michael Edwards’s Fragrances of the World. I’ve ordered so many samples from Perfumed Court—really, a lot. In a short time, although I’m no expert of course, I’ve become knowledgeable enough that when I was reading a particular book (I won’t name the title), I thought, gosh, isn’t this full of factual errors? I looked at online reviews and, indeed, reviewers had noted the many mistakes. I felt so pleased with myself!

But yet again, I find myself battling the same foolish impulses:

— my impulse to convince myself that I like what I “ought” to like: “Of course I love L’Heure Bleue. Everyone loves L’Heure Bleue.”

— my desire to be very grown-up: “Is it babyish of me to love soliflore perfumes so much? shouldn’t I prefer more complex scents?” (A soliflore is a fragrance that captures the scent of a single flower, like rose or lily of the valley.)

— should I squelch my interest in smell because it’s embarrassingly primal and therefore awkward to talk about?

–should I squelch my interest in perfume because it makes me seem materialistic?

–would it be cooler not to be interested in perfume, because so many people now make a point of not wearing it, or at least cooler to insist on a perfume that doesn’t use any synthetic ingredients? (Even though in my heart I embrace the use of synthetics. Bring it on! More smells!)

–isn’t it kind of goofy to be so enthusiastic about this? Shouldn’t I be less easy to please? Or least, shouldn’t my interests be more…original?

–is perfume a subject worthy of my precious attention, time, energy, and money?

–when I find a perfume I love, shouldn’t I save it for special occasions? (otherwise known as the spend out problem).

–on the other hand, is it wasteful to acquire “smells” that can’t be used as perfume? Like CB I Hate Perfume’s Black March. Gorgeous, but what can I do with it?

Over and over, I remind myself of my first personal commandment: Be Gretchen. Follow my interest as far as it leads. Stay true to what I actually love, not what I think I “ought” to love or what others tell me is “better.” Allow myself to be swept away by enthusiasm, and in a way that lifts up other people, rather than trying to maintain my dignity. Imitate the spiritual master and patron saint of enthusiasts, Julia Child.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: I can choose what I do, but I can’t choose what I like to do. I can decide not to pursue my interest in perfume, but I can’t make myself develop an interest in chess. One of the sadnesses of a happiness project is recognizing my limitations, the truth about who I really am. But it doesn’t matter who I wish I were. I am Gretchen.

And the thing is, every time I keep my resolution to “Be Gretchen,” I find my life enlarged, my pleasures deepened, my knowledge expanded, my ties to other people strengthened. Ah, the smell of Lys Mediterranee! How happy that beautiful fragrance makes me. How sad it would have been if I’d missed the chance to discover it.

* If you love to read, be sure to check out Slightly Foxed, “the real reader’s quarterly.” It’s a delightful quarterly magazine filled with book essays — not reviews of recent books, but writing about books beloved by the writers. I never read an issue without making several terrific discoveries. Also, it’s a great gift for a book-lover, if you’re not sure what books to buy — that’s how I found it.

* Sometimes people ask me to contribute a copy of The Happiness Project for auctions or benefits for non-profit organizations, and I’m very happy to do that. Just email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com.

Ever Had Such an Intense Interest in a Subject That Learning Was Easy?

As I’ve noted here before, I’ve recently become obsessed with the sense of smell — which has been an interesting experience, for several reasons.

One reason: this obsession has reminded me about the nature of learning. I’ve been struck by how much I’ve learned in the last few weeks. I went from knowing almost nothing about the scent of smell to knowing…well, quite a bit more. And without any effort, any drilling, any assignments on my part. Quite the contrary. I’m gulping down books, jumping around websites, eager to learn more, more, more.

The same thing happened when I was working on my Churchill biography. In college, I’d taken classes that covered World War II, and I had to force myself to do the reading, and I struggled to memorize the facts. But through the lens of my limitless fascination with Churchill, I couldn’t get enough of these materials, and I remembered facts easily.

And what’s strange — for me, at least — is that this interest clicks in so suddenly. Two months ago, if you’d handed me Chandler Burr’s The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York, I would have been only mildly interested. But last week, I was racing to the library to get it off the shelves. Same thing with Churchill. I went from mild interest to wild curiosity in the space of an hour. I remember that hour very well.

The desire to learn strikes me as quite significant. Sheer curiosity! It’s so powerful. When researchers tried to identify the factors that allowed third and fourth graders to recall their reading, it turned out that the students’ level of interest in the material was very important — thirty times more important than how “readable” the material was.

I was talking about this aspect of learning with a friend, and she said, “So you’re saying, being motivated to learn makes the learning process easier.”

“No!” I answered. “There have been plenty of times when I’ve been motivated to learn, but I didn’t desire to learn.” Law school, say. I was highly motivated to learn, but I had to make myself learn the material. And I saw people around me who loved the material, who learned effortlessly.

In the past, I might have fought against my interest in the sense of smell, out of a belief that it was unproductive to spend so much time and energy on it. Now, however, I let myself follow such interests as far as they lead — and these passions give me great happiness. Happiness from my interest in the subject, and also from the happiness that comes from the atmosphere of growth created by gaining knowledge.

I started asking my friends, “Do you have an area of weird, crazy knowledge? Where you know far more than most people, without making a special effort to study? A limitless curiosity about a particular subject?” A surprising number of people answer “Yes.” How about you? Do you have an area where you have an intense desire to learn? And that subject could be anything — baseball statistics, song lyrics, anything.

*This subject makes me want to pull Johnson’s Life of Samuel Johnson off the shelf, because I keep being reminded of passages that I know I shouldn’t quote at length here — so the next best thing is to re-read them all.

*If you’re also looking for a good book, please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.