Podcast 48: Create a Temporary Photo Gallery, and Do You Suffer from the Sunday Blues?

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

Update: We’re thrilled! Our first live show is tomorrow! And it has SOLD OUT. Yowza. If you’re coming to the Brava Theater on January 21, when we record an episode live, want a chance to be on the show? Email us with your New Year’s resolution, and maybe we’ll get to talk about it on stage. Send an email to podcast@gretchenrubincom, with the subject line “New Year’s resolution.”

Update: Henry joins us to tell us some fascinating listener responses to the question about New Year Rituals.

Try This at Home: Create a temporary photo gallery in your house. I mention this behind-the-scenes video from Happier at Home where I show the photo gallery I put up only for Valentine’s Day.

Happiness Stumbling Block — with Special Guests. Laura Mayer and Sarah Bentley from Panoply join us to talk about the happiness stumbling block of the Sunday blues. Do you suffer from the Sunday blues? How do you deal with it?

Listener Question: Brett asks, “Does maintaining relationships with unhappy friends and family  have to be toxic to your own happiness?”

 Gretchen’s Demerit : I keep tinkering with the parts of my book draft that are already good, instead of focusing my attention on the Introduction — doing what’s fun instead of what matters most.

 Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the Harry Potter audio-books. So good!

 

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. 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 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 get The Everyday Gourmet for free, go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier Limited time.

 

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Listen to this episode at Happiercast.com/48

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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!

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

One major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider:

1. Make a habit of nurturing others.

Offer to take care of the neighbor’s children once a week; teach a class, volunteer, get a dog. Giving support to others helps create a feeling of connection. For happiness generally, it’s just as important to give support as to get support. Along those lines…

2. Make a habit of connecting with other people (to state the obvious).

Show up at the weekly office coffee hour, join a book group, sign up for an exercise session, take a minute each morning to chat to a co-worker.

3. Make a habit of getting better sleep.

One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue. (Here are some tips on getting good sleep.)

4. Make a habit of staying open.

Unfortunately–and this may seem counter-intuitive--loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental.  Lonely people, it turns out, are far less accepting of potential new friends than people who aren’t lonely.If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

5. Making a habit of asking yourself, “What’s missing in my life?”

If you’re feeling lonely, is it because you miss having a best friend, or you miss being part of a group, or you miss having a place to go where everyone is familiar, or you miss having a romantic partner, or you miss having the quiet presence of someone else hanging around the house with you? There are many kinds of loneliness. It may be painful to think about, but once you understand what you’re missing, it’s easier to see how to address it. Through habits or otherwise.

If you find it tough to stick to a habit like “attending the weekly office coffee hour,” my book Better Than Before can help (I hope). There, I explain all the strategies we can use to make or break a habit. It’s not that hard to master a habit, when you know what to do.

For instance, you might use the Strategy of Scheduling, the Strategy of Monitoring, the Strategy of Convenience — and you should definitely use the Strategy of Treats — which is the most fun strategy.

If you want to read more about the subject of loneliness, I highly recommend two books: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily White, Lonely (a memoir). Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good habits for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?

Why Joining a Habits Group Can Help You Change Your Habits — and How to Start One.

One of the best ways to build good habits and happiness effectively – and also one of the most fun ways – is to join or start a group for people who want to change their habits.

I get a lot of requests for the starter kit, from people who want to launch a Better Than Before habits group, where people work on their habits together. Want one? Request it here.

These Better Than Before habits groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give energy and encouragement, and – probably most important – hold each other accountable. (Think AA and Weight Watchers.)

No surprise, many of these requests come from Obligers, who now see that external accountability is the key to sticking to their good habits — they want to form the group that will give them that crucial accountability. Which is a great idea.

Some solutions for accountability — like hiring a coach, working with a trainer, or taking a class — work extremely well, but they carry a cost; starting a habits group is free. And it’s fun.

Group members don’t have to be working toward the same aims; it’s enough that they hold each other accountable. My sister told me about her friend who’s in an accountability group where she’s being held accountable for working on a novel, while another member is being held accountable for getting massages, going to movies, etc. This may sound preposterous, but it’s actually brilliant — if you find it impossible to make time for yourself unless someone else holds you accountable, figure out a way to get that accountability!

Also, while accountability partners can also work well, pairs don’t offer the same stability of accountability. If your partner loses interest, gets distracted, or is absent for a time, your accountability vanishes.  With a group, you’re not as dependent on one person’s engagement.

If you’re part of a habits group, I’d love to hear about your experiences. What works, what doesn’t work? Are there resources I could provide that would be helpful?

For instance, I’ve been considering making a video that talks about groups, and why they’re so effective, and how to build them.

Sidenote: If you’re reading the book in any kind of group, and your group would like signed bookplates to make the books feel more personal, request them here (I’m so sorry–I can offer this for U.S. and Canada only, because of mailing costs). Or request a bookplate for yourself, or a gift, if you want.

Keep me posted about your group! I’m wildly interested to hear what everyone’s doing. Comment below or email me to let me know.

Have You Read Alan Rickman’s Wonderful Thank-You Note to J. K. Rowling?

This morning, I was very sorry to see that actor Alan Rickman had died. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and among other roles, Rickman was a terrific Severeus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

Thinking about him, I was reminded of the lovely thank-you note that he dedicated to J. K. Rowling. It makes me happy every time I think of it.

alan-rickman-goodbye-letter

 

 

Podcast 47: Control Your Exit, Keep Things Convenient–and Elizabeth Misses Out on a Romantic Moment.

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

Update: We’re thrilled! Our first live show has SOLD OUT. Yowza! If you’re coming to the Brava Theater on January 21, when we record an episode live, want a chance to be on the show? Send us an email with your New Year’s resolution, and maybe we’ll get to talk about it on stage. Send an email to podcast@gretchenrubincom, with the subject line “New Year’s resolution.”

A few episodes ago, I asked listeners to help: I’m looking for ideas for how to title the book I’m writing about the Four Tendencies. I want it to be “The Four ____ Tendencies” or “The Four Tendencies of ____.” I’m looking for a word that’s concrete, interesting, and describes what the Tendencies are about. Keep those suggestions coming!

Elizabeth got her car serviced, got her hair cut and colored, and started her new eating plan — using full Obliger accountability.

Try This at Home: Control your exit.

Side-note: We’ve heard that perhaps France doesn’t actually have this orange-juice ritual. Anyone know for sure?

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Convenience. One of the most powerful and universally applicable strategies.

Elizabeth and I discuss our new hard-boiled-egg-makers. On the advice of a listener, I got the Krups egg cooker.  I love it, but will admit that in true satisficer mode, I didn’t do any research — I just bought the one recommended to me.

Special Guest: Mary Harris, host of the terrific health podcast Only Human, came by to tell us about an interesting project they’re doing, about making good fitness habits. To join the project, go to onlyhuman.org/sticktoit.

If you want to read my interview with Daniel Ariely, it’s here.

Elizabeth’s Demerit : Over the holidays in Kansas City, Adam proposed getting a quick drink to wait out the rain, but Elizabeth thought they should hurry home.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I copied a listener’s gold star for museum memberships. Thanks, Jennifer!

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 get The Everyday Gourmet for free, go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier Limited time.

Also check out Stamps.com. 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.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin #47 - Listen at GretchenRubin.com

 

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.)

1pix

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!