Secret of Adulthood: Hell Is Other People; Heaven Is Other People.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Hell is Other People; Heaven is other people.

Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that if a key — perhaps the key — to happiness is our relationships to other people. To be happy, we need to have enduring, intimate bonds; we need to be able to get and give support; we need to be able to confide, we need to feel like we belong. People make us happy.

But what makes us unhappy? Well, in many cases, people.

Agree, disagree?

When Did You Experience the Truest Feeling of Joy You’ve Ever Known?

“To this day, the truest feeling of joy I have ever known is the door opening at a friend’s house to reveal my father — in his tweed overcoat– there to rescue me from a bad play date.”

— Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl

This rang true for me, because I have to admit: Of my whole life, one of my most purely joyous memories is when a student came to our high school chemistry lab to tell us that field hockey practice was cancelled for the day, because the sprinklers had been running all night, so our cleats would have torn up the grass. I was so happy.

Do you have a memory like that — of such great happiness, over such a small thing?

A Lesson in Happiness and Love I Learned from Rob Lowe

I’m not a particular fan (or not) of Rob Lowe, but several people had recommended his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so I decided to read it.

It was very interesting for many reasons, and I was particularly struck by a story Lowe told, recalling a visit to the White House during his time on the show The West Wing: (more…)

Video: “I Travel All the Time,” and the Lack-of-Control Loophole for Habits.

In my latest (bestselling) book, Better Than Before, I identify the twenty-one strategies of habit-formation, and one is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting.

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the ten categories of loopholes. I love studying loopholes, because they’re so funny. And ingenious! We’re such great advocates for ourselves — in any situation, we can always think of some loophole to invoke.

What is a “loophole?”

When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.

In Better Than Before, I describe all ten categories of loopholes; in this video series. I’ll describe them, one by one.

Seventh of ten loopholes: Lack of Control loophole.

This is a very popular loophole. We argue that we don’t have control over the situation, and circumstances have forced us to break a habit. However, usually we have more control than we admit.

 

Lack of Control Loophole Examples

The dog ate my homework.

Alcoholics can quit drinking, and smokers can quit smoking, but I can’t quit eating. (I can’t quit eating, but I can quit eating sugar, or grains, or processed food.)

I’m too stressed to deal with this now.

I travel all the time.

The subway always makes me late.

This snack has been specially engineered by the food industry to be irresistible.

My favorite trainer quit.

My kids take up all my time.

The church’s annual Fathers’ Day Breakfast has always been all-you-can-eat.

We opened a bottle of wine, so we have to finish it.

Do you ever find yourself invoking the Lack of Control loophole? It’s super-sneaky, in my experience. Very easy to invoke without even realizing it.

Did you notice that in the video, my example of the “irresistible food” is Froot Loops? Get the joke?

Podcast 30: Special Guest! My Daughter Eliza, Who Asks: Any Advice for a 16-Year-Old?

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

This is the 30th episode, and every tenth episode we have a Very Special Episode where we do something a little different. Remember episode 10, when I cleaned Elizabeth’s closet?

This Very Special Episode: a very special guest, my sixteen-year-old daughter, Eliza! Yowza.

Update: People sent us great one-word themes for the year: Acceptance, Imperfect, Healthier, Authenticity, Moving. (If you want to read more about this try-this-at-home, I write about it in Happier at Home.)

Try This at Home: Eliza suggests, “Give yourself a mission when you have free time.” Eliza wants to feel like she’s used her precious free time to do something worthwhile. (Poor thing, school started again last week, so she doesn’t have much free time anymore.) Bonus try-this-at-home: “Stalk yourself on Facebook.” (more…)