Something that Makes Me Happy: Voting.

I sometimes get what I think of as my “America feeling.” Usually when I get this feeling, it’s so strong that I actually choke up.

It hits me at the oddest time.  For instance, I felt it when I got my daughter’s emergency passport, and the officer was giving us our directions. (You can hear me tell the story on episode 31 of the podcast: “If you have an appointment, you’re in line A, for ‘appointment’; if not, you’re in line B, for ‘bad planning.’”)

I felt it during the musical Hamiltonfor instance, during this part.

I get the America feeling whenever I vote.  I love to vote. It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment and participation.

Also, writing Happier at Home made me more attuned to the feeling not only of “home” but also of “neighborhood.” Voting is always a great neighborhood experience for me.

Today when I signed the voting register, I saw the signatures of my husband and my mother-in-law (we live around the corner from my in-laws, and I mean right around the corner); my father-in-law’s name is on the flip side.

I had a nice chat with the people on either side of me in line, plus we saw Paul McCartney walk by! It was a very friendly neighborhood experience.

This has been a tough election cycle. Voting reminded me of how grateful I am. Grateful for my family and my neighborhood and my country. Gratitude for democracy and the ability to vote. These elements of my life are so easy to take for granted, and yet play such an important part of my daily happiness.

How about you? How do you feel about voting?

A Little Happier: Do You Have an Image or Memory that Always Makes You Happier?

In The Happiness Project — or perhaps it’s in Happier at Home — I write about having an “area of refuge.”

Lately, I’ve been re-reading all of Willa Cather’s outstanding novels, and in O Pioneers! I came across a beautiful description of a moment that became an area of refuge for Alexandra and Emil.

This passage is so beautiful…it brings tears to my eyes every time. And if you read the novel, you realize even more deeply the significance of this memory for Alexandra.

I especially love it because of the Nebraska connection — both my parents were raised in North Platte.

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


Happier listening!

Do You Know that Strange Feeling of Recognition for the People on Your Flight?

From the unconventional memoir Textbook:

VII. At the baggage claim I see the man and woman from my row.

a. My people! These are my people!

b. They are now familiar to me

c. We spent three hours elbow-to-elbow

d. We passed plastic cups of ice water and mini bags of pretzels over to one another

e. I know what they look like asleep

f. Then we hoist our bags off the conveyor belt, wheel away in scattered directions

i. never to see each other again.

–Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Textbook

I know that feeling so well — the rush of relief and recognition of seeing “your people” at the baggage carousel. And then never seeing them again. I loved that this little piece captured that experience. (And yes, the nonsequential lettering and spacing is in the original.)

Want to Get an Extra Hour in Your Day? Use the End of Daylight Saving Time.

For Better Than Before, my book about habit change,  when I talked 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 autumn end to Daylight Saving Time on November 6 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.

On the other hand, the autumn change means earlier darkness, and that poses safety challenges for pedestrians and drivers.

But while you may love that extra hour of sleep, consider not sleeping in, but instead get up after your customary amount of sleep. 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.

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 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.

NOTE: This system wouldn’t work for true “owls” who stay up late and sleep late. Night people are at their most productive, energetic, and creative later in the day, and mornings are tough for them. But for many people, it’s possible to make a very satisfying use of that hour.

ALSO 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.)

The question is: 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 7:00-8:00 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?

Podcast 89: Control the Cubicle in Your Pocket, Mail an Actual Invitation–and What Habit Would People Change?

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

Try This at Home: Control the cubicle in your pocket.

Happiness Hack: Mail an actual invitation, say, to a family gathering.

Know Yourself Better: If the people around you could change one of your habits, what would they change?

Listener Question: Kristen asks, “What is the origin of our Tendency?” Again, to take a quiz for the Four Tendencies, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here. If you want to know when my new book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves, sign up here.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Because of her renovation, Elizabeth didn’t water her trees.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Curriculum Night! I love getting the chance to hear what my daughters will be learning and to meet their teachers.

MugObligerHappierUpdate: Mugs! We have mugs for sale. A Happier mug, or you can also buy a mug specifically for your Tendency. Just scroll down here.  (Want to take a quiz for the Four Tendencies, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here. )

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast. To join the conversation, check the schedule. 

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #89

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