Secrets of Adulthood: If You Can’t Find Something, Clean Up. Agree, Disagree?

From Further Secrets of AdulthoodIf you can’t find something, clean up.

This is one of the Secrets of Adulthood that sounds too easy to be true, but over and over, I’ve proven its value to myself.

If I can’t find something, I clean up — and I almost always find what I was looking for, plus some things that I wanted to find, that I didn’t even know I’d lost.

It continues to amaze me, every day, the degree to which (for most people) outer order contributes to inner calm and inner self-command. More than it should!

Losing your keys is no big deal. But it sure feels like a big deal.

In The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I wrote a lot about clearing clutter. And then in Better Than Before, it came up again! There’s something so enervating about disorder.

How about you? Do you have any easy tricks for staying on top of order and disorder?

Podcast 37: Meet a Work Deadline, but Can’t Go Running on Your Own? You May be an Obliger.

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

Update:  Elizabeth and I reminisce about the trip we took together when I recorded a Super Soul Sunday episode with Oprah! Yes, I’m going to be on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday on November 8, 7:00 pm EST/PT on the OWN channel (find your station here). Please watch. I’ll be live-tweeting while it airs.

OprahElizabethandGretchenSelfieHotel

Boy, Elizabeth and I had fun on that adventure.  But I have to admit, I can hardly remember anything from the interview; it was such an out-of-body experience. So I’ll be curious to see if I remember it, once I watch it.

Today is the third in the series of four episodes that we’re devoting to the Four Tendencies.  In last week’s episode, we talked about the Upholder Tendency; this week, it’s Obliger.

To find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel,
take the Four Tendencies quiz here.

Try This at Home: If you’re an Obliger, or you’re around an Obliger (which you surely are), help the Obliger to figure out a system of outer accountability so the Obliger can meet an inner expectation.

If you want to start a group for people who are holding each other accountable, get the starter kit here.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Obligers:  How to identify and take advantage of the strengths, and counter-balance the weaknesses, of the Tendency.

Striking Pattern of Obligers: Obliger-rebellion. Obligers will meet, meet, meet, meet expectations — and then suddenly, they snap, and refuse to meet an expectation. This can be a symbolic, small act, or a hugely explosive act.

Listener Question: “I’m an Obliger, and I find that disturbing. I should be my own priority. Is it possible to move from Obliger to Upholder?”

Gretchen’s Demerit: After years of feeling bad about the fact that I don’t work very productively when I travel, I decided — hey, no more demerits, I’m going to use that time to read for fun.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Adam suggested, “No more unkind voices.”

Call for comments, questions, observations!

We’re spending four weeks talking about my Four Tendencies framework for human nature. One more week to go — Rebels! We’ve already had many thought-provoking responses, but we want more.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin #37 - Listen at Happiercast.com/37

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — Did you help an Obliger (whether that’s you or someone else) to come up with a system of external accountability? If so, how?

If you’re intrigued by the Four Tendencies, and want to be notified when my handbook on the subject hits the shelves, text me at 66866 and enter the word “tendencies,” I’ll add you to a list to be notified when it’s ready.

There are lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

 

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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!

5 Things Oprah Taught Me about How to Give a Good Interview.

One of the biggest thrills in my professional life was being interviewed by Oprah herself, for her amazing Super Soul Sunday series. Yowza!

The interview airs on November 8, at 7 p.m EST/PT on OWN (find your station here.) Please watch. I’ll be live-tweeting while it airs.

Doing the interview was exciting on many levels, but among other things, I learned a lot about the interview process. Oprah is the master, and it’s always a rare privilege to learn from a true master.

1. Oprah was extremely prepared and referred to my work several times.

This is an obvious point for an interviewer, but still it was a good reminder of how important that is, to the interviewee.

2. She really listened — it felt like a real conversation, a real exchange.

I know from experience that when doing an interview, it’s all too easy to refer to a list of questions, and to move to the next question no matter how someone answers.

3. She talked herself.

There’s a tricky balance for interviewers — you don’t want to talk too much yourself, but perhaps counter-intuitively, if you talk too little, an interview can fall flat.

4. She made me feel like I surprised and intrigued her.

When I’m interviewing someone, I want to have a moment of genuine connection and learning. That often means surprising or puzzling another person. Oprah has heard it all, and she’s read my books, yet she made me feel like I was saying things that genuinely intrigued her.

5. She was in control.

The first time I went on the Today show, to talk about my book Power Money Fame Sex, to be interviewed by Matt Lauer, I was so nervous. An established writer said, “Don’t worry about this interview. He’s the best at that job, and he’s the best prepared — this will be one of your easiest interviews.” And that was true. (You can watch the 2000 interview here. I can’t bear to watch, so have never actually seen it!)

Same thing with Oprah. A friend who had been on Super Soul Sunday said, “Relax. Oprah is the master, she’s the best, so just think about being yourself and answering from the heart. Don’t feel like you have to be in charge of the conversation.” And that was true. I really enjoyed the conversation — so much, that I forgot to be nervous.

I was also a lot calmer, because my sister Elizabeth was with me — that made the whole adventure much more relaxed and fun. Here we are taking a selfie before leaving the hotel to go to the recording. Note Elizabeth’s excellent hair — no hair or make-up for me yet.

I hope you’ll watch! Sunday, November 8, OprahElizabethandGretchenSelfieHotelOWN channel, at 7:00 ET/PT. Be sure to join me on Twitter during the show.

Revealed! Book Club Choices for November. Excellent Reading.

First, a moment of self-book-promotion — feel free to skip.

I’m excited, because the Better Than Before Day-by-Day Journal just hit the shelves. Part resource, part tool, part keepsake — it will help you change your habits. To watch a short video where I show the book and describe its design, go here.

Now, for the recommendations! Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness or habits

· one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

· one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

Shop at IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library! Drumroll…

 

A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature

Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton (a journal)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I was astonished to realize that I haven’t yet recommended this book, one of my all-time favorites. Also the inspiration for some of the best writing I’ve ever done in my life, on the last page of Happier at Home.)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind : The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint by Maura O’Halloran

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.

Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.

In any event, I assure you that, for all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think?

And please, send me your recommendations! Recently a reader told me about a a Noel Streatfield book that I’d somehow missed, and another reader gave me many science-fiction entries for my library list. I love getting suggestions.

Habit Short-Cut! Use the Time Change to Help You Change Your Habits. Painlessly.

For Better Than Before, when I talk to people about the habits they want to change, they often mention that they lack the time for a new habit.

To clear time to schedule a new morning habit, many people try waking up a bit earlier, but this can be tough for people who struggle to get out of bed.

One trick? Use the upcoming time change to add an hour to your morning.

Make Time for Something Important

Daylight Saving Time ends as 2:00 a.m. on November 1, and you can use this as a painless way to add an extra hour to the morning. (Obviously this only works if you live in a place that follows DST.) Getting up earlier is a great way to make time for something important to you.

We all love to “fall back” and to get that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. It’s a great boon to get a little extra sleep. In fact, car accidents and heart attacks are more common in the week after Daylight Saving Time starts, because losing that hour puts stress on people’s bodies.

But while you may love that extra hour of sleep, consider not sleeping in, but instead get up after your customary time. Your body is getting up as usual, but the clock will say that you’re up an hour early.  And there’s a lot you can do with that hour–especially if the people around you are still sound asleep.

Change Your Surroundings

Remember, when it comes to habits, it’s easier to change your surroundings than to change yourself or other people. It’s easier to get in the habit of waking up earlier by getting up at the same time, when the clock changes, than to train yourself to get up earlier.

A reader commented: “A couple years ago I decided not to reset my clock at the end of daylight savings. I had thought of myself as a night owl, but suddenly had writing/exercise time.”

You could use that time to do something like exercise or work on a project–or maybe you want to use it for pure pleasure. I have a friend who wakes up early to read for fun.

The morning is a great time to form a regular habit, because self- control is high, there are fewer distractions, and it’s highly predictable.

Now, this system wouldn’t work for true “owls” who stay up late and sleep late. But for many people, it’s possible to make a very satisfying use of that hour.

Get Yourself to Bed On Time

NOTE: If you try this strategy, you must also go to sleep earlier! It’s so, so, so important to get enough sleep, and if you lose an hour in the morning, you need to gain that time in sleep. (Here are some tips for getting yourself to go to bed on time.)

Where would you rather have the hour? At the end of the day, or at the start of the day?

Most people would use those slots in very different ways.  The hour of 6:00-7:00 am looks very different from the hour of 11:00-mindnight. Which hour would contribute the most to your happiness?

If you suddenly had an extra hour in your day, how would you use it? Have you ever used this method–or any other–to shift your waking time?