Tag Archives: school

Podcast 66: Why It’s Helpful to Give Advice Only When Asked, and the Challenges of Email Etiquette and Vacation Hangovers.

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

Update: We got many interesting responses to the “Stop stockpiling” discussion from episode 62.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. I talk to viewers about questions, comments, suggestions. You can watch the most recent one here. If you want to join the conversation live, I do them on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern. Join in!

Try This at Home: Only give advice when it’s asked for. Harder than it sounds. If you want to watch the short scene I mentioned from Star Wars, it’s here.

Advice can be tiresome, but it can also be life-transforming. So…

For our next Very Special Episode, episode 70, let us know: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? For work, love, parenting, life…what really made the difference? Let us know! 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.  774-277-9336 (77 HAPPY 336).

Happiness Stumbling Block: Email etiquette. Email issues come up all the time.

Listener Questioner: Sarah asks for tips for readjusting after a great trip away — the “vacation hangover.”

Gretchen’s Demerit: For a whole day, I didn’t meaningfully engage with any member of my family. I was just lost in my own thoughts, and going through the motions.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s kindergarten class had a terrific “Young Authors” program.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #66

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HAPPIER listening!

For Podcast Listeners, Something New! First Mini-Episode to Make You “A Little Happier.”

My sister Elizabeth and I are having so much fun doing our weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

And I’ve found that there are some powerful ideas about happiness, good habits, and human nature that don’t quite fit the structure of the show.

So, for listeners who’d like to start their weeks with a little boost of happiness, I’ve started doing “A Little Happier.”

Each Monday, I’ll release a little bonus episode — maybe 2-3 minutes long — to help launch the week.

I’ve always been intrigued about how much we love stories, and in the end, how we learn best from stories, so these “A Little Happiers” will feature a story from my life, or something I’ve read or observed, that make a point about happiness. They’ll often feature one of my “Secrets of Adulthood” — the things I’ve learned, with time and experience, about how to be happier.

I love all teaching stories, koans, parables, aphorisms, maxims, epigrams, proverbs, and the like. A Little Happier is another way to explore the power of story and aphorism.

I hope these mini-episodes will help you start your week…a little happier. Let me know what you think!

12 Tips for a Happier Home, Adapted from Nursery School.

One of my resolutions is to Treat myself like a toddler. I’ve found that much of the advice aimed at children is just as helpful for me.

For instance, I’m reading Nicole Malenfant’s Routines and Transitions: A Guide for Early Childhood Professionals (non sequitur:  a surprising name for a childhood expert). She lays out several strategies for teachers to use in establishing routines and transitions for children. I’m going to try to apply them to myself.

Here’s a tips list, loosely adapted:

  1. Turn routines into games. My evening tidy-up, while not quite a “game,” is kind of fun and quite relaxing.
  2. Control the level of noise. I’m much calmer when there’s no TV or music playing in the background.  (Except at night. Weirdly, my husband and I fall asleep to all-news radio.)
  3. Organize space so it’s attractive, well organized, and well lit. One of my most important Secrets of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  4. Plan times each day for relaxing activities. Why is this so hard for adults?
  5. Encourage a feeling of belonging, e.g., by displaying children’s work and pictures. I have a resolution to Cultivate a shrine.
  6. Consider children’s reactions when making an unavoidable change. I do better with routines and predictability. I don’t react well when there’s a sudden change in the schedule.
  7. Balance indoor and outdoor activities. Just going outside into the sunlight gives a mood boost.
  8. Make sure there’s plenty of time to get things done without rushing. This makes a huge difference in my day-to-day happiness. In Happier at Home, I write a lot about my struggle to create an unhurried atmosphere at home.
  9. Provide opportunities for curiosity and creativity.
  10. Speak in a calm voice. This is a big issue in my home. We talk all the time about “a kind voice,” “a mean voice.”
  11. Explain the behavior you’d like to see in a clear, respectful way. Not “Settle down,” but “Sit in your chair with your feet under your desk.” Not “I could use a little help around here,” but “Please unload the dishwasher so we can get the dirty dishes out of the sink.”
  12. Meet people’s basic needs. Children and adults need to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, rest, and spend time outside.

It’s such a cliche to say that “I learned everything I need to know in kindergarten,” but I find that sometimes the most basic ideas are quite effective.

What would you add to this list? What lessons from nursery school?


7 Tips for Keeping School-Day Mornings Calm and Cheerful.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Seven tips for keeping school-day mornings calm and cheery.

Unbelievable, but school is already well underway. And that means that the early-morning scramble is underway too.

I wrote this list a while back, but I realized this morning that I needed to go over it again and remind myself of what I need to do keep things running smoothly. I want a calm, unrushed, cheerful morning — not one with lots of whining, yelling, and searching for misplaced items. (And that’s just me!)

I had a major insight about the challenge of keeping our school-day mornings moving along: I was focused on chivvying my children along. Wrong! I needed to worry about ME.

When I work on my own habits, mornings are much easier. Here are some tips I try to follow to keep the mornings calm:

1. Get enough sleep myself. I’m good at putting my kids to sleep at a decent hour, and I need to be just as disciplined with myself. It can be tempting to stay up late, to enjoy the peace and quiet, but 6:00 a.m. comes fast, and being overtired makes the morning much tougher.

2. Sing. As goofy as it sounds, I try to sing in the morning. It’s hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone—particularly in my case, because I’m tone deaf, and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity.

3. Say “no” only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange pants and bright green shoes? Sure. As Samuel Johnson said, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”

4. Get organized the night before. It’s so hard to take the trouble to wrangle all the stuff together the night before, but it really pays off. Those last-minute dashes for homework sheets or empty paper-towel rolls are hard to bear with equanimity. I also try to observe the evening tidy-up, so I don’t feel like I should rush around tidying up the apartment.

5. Have a precise routine. This sounds counter-intuitive, and I’m not sure it would work for everyone, but in our house, we have a NASA-like countdown to get to school. At 7:00 a.m., we all go down to breakfast. At 7:20, time to get dressed. 7:40, time to leave for the walk to school. Knowing these exact times keeps my daughters moving and stops them from repeating, “Just a minute, just a minute.”

6. Caffeine. If you need your caffeine, make sure you can get your caffeine! I usually manage to drink several huge mugs of coffee before we leave the house.

7. Jump! This is my new favorite resolution. Yes, just jump up and down a few times. It will make you feel more energetic, lighthearted, and silly — a great tone to start the day.

A friend of mine works full-time and has two young sons. She told me, “For a long time, our mornings were awful — lots of crabbiness and procrastination, me yelling at everyone to hurry up. Then it hit me: I don’t get to spend that much time with my kids during the week, and a big part of that time is during the morning. I made changes so that it became good family time.”

For her, the secret was to get up earlier. She hated to lose thirty minutes of sleep, but that extra half hour made the difference between a relaxed, cheerful morning and a rushed, difficult morning.

It’s worth the effort to try to get mornings running smoothly, because the morning sets the tone for the whole day – for everyone.

The days are long, but the years are short.

* Are you a Savvy Auntie? Check out this great site for “cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids.”

* Speaking of “The days are long, but the years are short,” if you haven’t watched my little one-minute video, you might enjoy it.

Video: What Has Been YOUR Most Helpful Resolution?

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — last month’s focus was Fun, and last week’s resolution was Start a collection. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This week, I’m doing something a little different.

For me, as for many people, it’s not January, but September — with its air of sharp pencils, fresh beginnings, and renewed resolve — that marks the real start of the new year. The academic schedule shaped my life from pre-school through law school, and this continues through my daughters’ routines, and so back-to-school is the season for reinvention and renewal. New classes, new friends, new teachers, new supplies — it’s the chance to start again.

That means that it’s a good time to make a new year’s resolution. If you’ve ever tried and kept a resolution, what has worked best for you? What made the biggest difference? Or didn’t have any effect at all?

On my book video, I list many of my favorite resolutions. I’d love to do a companion version of the video that lists other people’s favorite resolutions. So please comment below and share your best ones, and I hope to make a second resolutions video.

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

* I’m fascinated by My Open Wallet, where “an anonymous New Yorker tells the world how much she earns, spends, and saves.” I especially love “My Rules” which are in the right-hand column.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
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