Tag Archives: work

Podcast 24: Take Photos of Everyday Life, the Tension that Exists in Love–and Should I Get a Dog?

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

BlankeeElizabethUpdate: After episode 17, listeners got in touch to tell us about the things that they call their preciousssss. Fascinating. And do you have a beloved toy — or other artifact — that you still treasure from childhood? Here’s Elizabeth’s Blankey (I confirmed the spelling).

Try This at Home: Take photos of everyday life. Never forget how easy it is to forget.

Assay: Elizabeth and I discuss a story that singer-songwriter-author Rosanne Cash told us about working with her husband, in episode 22. It really resonated with us, because it captures an important tension that exists within loving relationships: “You’re awesome just the way you are” vs. “You can do better.” (By the way, our producer Henry did give me notes at the end of the episode! Which I really do appreciate–his job is to push us harder.)

Listener Question: “My family has moved to a new city. We loved the city where we were living, but how do we make sure we’re as happy in our new city as we were in our old city?” (I can’t resist including a link to my book, Happier at Home, which is all about — you guessed it — how to be happier at home.)

BlackJackCatGretchen’s Demerit: My daughters really want a dog, but I’m not sure I want a dog. Listeners, should we get a dog?

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: She’s a good sister and talks to me at length about the dog issue. (Here’s a photo of Elizabeth’s cat Blackjack.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors.  Want to avoid post-office pain, 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 no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also, check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you. Especially if you have any ideas about whether my family should get a dog!

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

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.

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!

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.

And if you enjoyed the podcast, 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.)

HAPPIER listening!

Podcast 23: Choose an Office TV Show, Do You Savor or Spree, and Keeping Good Habits While Traveling.

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

Update: Elizabeth clarifies that Adam is protective, but not over-protective (she felt that she was a bit harsh in episode 20).

Try This at Home: Choose an office TV show. Elizabeth’s office watches Game of Thrones, and everyone has fun discussing it.  Or maybe a family TV show–my family’s TV show is The Office. (Listen to the bonus clip.) Or you could have an office podcast!

Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer to savor or spree when you’re enjoying certain pleasures? This is related to, but not exactly the same as, the abstainer vs. moderator distinction, which relates to how you most easily resist a strong temptation. I write a lot about this kind of distinction in Better Than Before.

Listener Question: “How do you cultivate healthy habits while traveling?” One answer: avoid loopholes! Here are the 10 categories of loopholes, including the travel favorites, the “this doesn’t count” loophole and the “lack of control” loophole and the “planning to fail” loophole.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth regrets that she didn’t make a bigger effort to make friends with the very nice parents at her son’s pre-school. Now he’s off to kindergarten, so the opportunity has passed.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to my husband, for being super lovely-dovey — which, if you met him, might come as a surprise. He doesn’t seem like he’d be a big “mushball” (Elizabeth’s term).

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Wish you cooked more? Get all the delicious, fresh ingredients you need to make great meals, delivered to your front door. Check out BlueApron.com/happier to get your first two meals free.

Also, thanks to Audible.com, with more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio products. Get a free audio-book of your choice by visiting Audible.com/happier.

We’d love to hear from you: What’s your office or family TV show? What loophole do you invoke–while traveling, or generally?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

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.

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!

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.

And if you enjoyed the podcast, 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.)

HAPPIER listening!

Have You Ever Felt a “Call” to Do a Certain Kind of Work?

Assay: A few weeks ago, my family and I went to see Sequence 8, a performance by Les 7 Doigts de la Main (7 Fingers, if your French is rusty).

It’s a performance that’s part circus, part dance…it’s very compelling.

But as much as I enjoyed the show, I was just as interested in the playbill.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to experience a “call” — that is, a powerful, practically irresistible feeling that you’re meant to do a certain kind of work.

I certainly felt a call to writing. It took me a while to hear it and follow it, but I remember thinking, “Well, at this point, I’d rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer.” I remember quoting Juvenal to my father, “An inveterate and incurable itch for writing besets many and grows old with their sick hearts.” I didn’t want that to happen to me.

I was struck by the evidence in the playbill that many of these performers had felt a call to the circus. A sampling from several bios: “In 2008, his life took a serious turn when he abandoned his studies at McGill University and entered the National Circus School of Montreal, in what was decidedly one of the best decisions of his life…discovered circus at age eight…immediately impassioned, he tried every circus experience he could…was barely five when he entered the San Francisco School of Circus Arts…”

I once met a woman who’d left her family  and dropped out of school in her early teens to become a juggler. When I expressed surprise, she said, “I just had to do everything I could to learn to juggle.” This sounds comical as I write it, but in the moment, it was a profound and almost terrifying statement.

In some ways, a call is wonderful. It’s clear. It’s urgent. It’s fulfilling.

But in some ways, and for some people, a call isn’t wonderful. A call means no choice — or at least, great pain in making another choice. Some people don’t want to be called to do the kind of work they feel called to do. This reminds me of one of my favorite novels, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, where Hazel Motes destroys himself (and redeems himself) in resisting his call.

Also, a call is no guarantee of success. Now, does a call help? I imagine it does help, because a call makes it easier to practice.  Logan Pearsall Smith wrote, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery in involves.” There are good and bad aspects to this. I feel unsettled at any time when I’m not writing. And I mean that. There’s a sense of peace, and of being in the right place, that I experience only when I’m writing. You can see how that has drawbacks.

I remember talking to a group of first-year medical students. I made a vow to myself, always to talk about drift when I speak to college or graduate students, so we were talking about how to avoid drift. I was asking them how they got into medicine, and they had many different answers: “I’ve always been fascinated by biology and the human body,” “Both my parents are doctors,” “From the time I was a child, I’ve known I was going to be a doctor.” The last answer sounds like a call, to me. All three students could make excellent doctors, but having a call makes the experience different.

Is a “call” the same as a “moment of obligation?” I heard this term from someone who awards grants to people to start public interest projects. She explained that when they were evaluating people as possible grant recipients, they asked, “Did you feel a moment of obligation?” Meaning, did you spot a problem and decide that you were the one who had to fix it? Many of the people they funded had these moments. “I was reading about the malaria problem, and I thought, someone should come up with a better way to distribute nets. And then I realized, I should be the one.”

We often think of a call as related to a religious vocation. And it certainly happens there. I’ve been meaning to read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, which I think is about a call to be a missionary, though I’m not sure, because I haven’t yet read it. I’m reminded of one of favorite titles of all time: William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.

I’ve just started thinking about this. How about you? Have you ever felt a call, or been around someone who felt a call? To do what?  Was it pleasurable or painful?

Why It’s a Bad Idea to “Interview for Pain.”

One of my favorite parenting books is Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill’s Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understand the Social Lives of Children.

Like most good parenting books, the advice turns out to be just as useful when dealing with adults as it is when dealing with children. (I think about Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s brilliant How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk more often in the context of adult than of child interactions.)

As I was reading Best Friends, Worst Enemies, I was particularly struck by Thompson’s warning against “interviewing for pain.”

He describes a situation where your child complains about another child’s behavior, and then every day, when your child returns from school, you ask, “So, honey, was Pat mean to you today?”

Thompson points out that children are quick to realize that bad stories about Pat will be a good way to get your attention, and that they may seek to satisfy you, and present the facts in the most attention-grabbing way. Also, Thompson writes,

“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.”

And although Thompson doesn’t make this point, it also seems to me that by asking this question, we focus a child’s attention on that part of the day. Instead of thinking about the happy interactions that took place, the child tries to remember painful interactions.

Not “interviewing for pain” seems to me to be excellent advice for dealing with children–and also adults.

For instance, I can imagine a well-meaning friend or spouse or family member asking at every meeting, “So is your ex-wife still as awful as ever?” or “Is your boss still so difficult to work with?”

Now I remind myself not to interview for pain. Yes, stay open to a discussion, if someone close to me wants to talk about something painful. Not to be dismissive, not to be eager to avoid the subject — but also not to shine such a spotlight on a difficult situation that everything good fades out.

Have you ever interviewed for pain — or perceived that someone was interviewing you for pain?

Secret of Adulthood: We Have More Time Than We Think. And Less Time.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood.

I’m always surprised by how much I can get done in a relatively short period of time, if I really settle down to it. I’ve learned that from my habit of Power Hour, for instance.

But we always need to remember that we may have less time than we think, too. If nothing else, the passage of time itself will bring about changes and endings. On this subject, and of everything I’ve ever written, I think this one-minute video, The Years Are Short, resonates most with people.