Podcast 32: Why Elizabeth and I Raise the Bar, the Surprising Downside of Teasing–and Please Comment on Four Tendencies.

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

Update: I talk about Barnaby, our new dog! (As promised, here’s a picture of Barnaby with our producer, Henry Molofsky.) And a shout-out to our super-fans in Omaha, Nebraska.

Also, you’ll hear us talk about our new (and we hope improved, though Elizabeth is doubtful) way of referring to previous episodes, so that you can easily find them here on my site. That’s happiercast.com/32 (or the number of whatever episode you’re looking for).

Try This at Home: Raise the bar (yes, you remember that right, in episode 29 we suggested lowering the bar; the opposite of a profound truth is also true). What works for you — lowering or raising the bar, or (more…)

Revealed! The New Jacket for the Paperback of “Better Than Before.”

Big news! (At least it’s big for me.)

At last, I can reveal the jacket art for the paperback of Better Than Before.

It’s fun to do something different with the cover of the hardback and the paperback.

It turns out that it’s very difficult to capture the idea of “habits” in a visual image, and I think the arrows pointing forward and backward do a good job of that. Plus I love the vibrant colors.

But if you don’t like it, please don’t tell me. It’s done, it’s decided. I’m always asking myself, “What are the iron laws of the universe?” There aren’t many. One is (more…)

7 Things I Learned About Myself, from Getting a Dog.

As I may have mentioned, my family and I just got a new puppy — a cockapoo named Barnaby. He’s fourteen weeks old, and super sweet and delightful.

However, he is a dog, and even more so, he’s a puppy. I knew that his arrival in our household would mean big changes — and would also teach me a lot about myself.

So far, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. is very different from getting up at 6:00 a.m.

It’s just thirty minutes…but it feels like a much bigger gap. For years,  my day has started at 6:00, and I’m hoping that when Barnaby is a little older, I can move my wake-up time back to its usual spot. For now, he’s very eager to go out by 5:30.

2. New York City is an overwhelming place.

I’ve been here for so long that I take it for granted, but being with Barnaby has shown me how noisy and bustling it is. In some ways, that’s good; in some ways, (more…)

Have You Read the Book “Peter Pan?”

“John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents; but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

— J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

One day, when I think I’m finally ready, I’ll undertake the great challenge of my writing life: to write the book I’ve been thinking about for decades, Symbols Beyond Words.

And when I do, J. M. Barrie is going to be all over that book. If you haven’t read Peter Pan, read it. It’s not what you expect.

Carl Jung, Flannery O’Connor, C. S. Lewis but not J.R.R. Tolkien (except for Tom Bombadil), Elias Canetti, Virginia Woolf, The Golden Bough,  the movie The Piano, the writing of Bob Dylan (I never listen to his music), Robertson Davies tried so hard but never really got there…I have a long way to go before I can write that book.

Video: “You Only Live Once,” “Life’s Too Short to Skip the Brownie,” and the Fake Self-Actualization Loophole.

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 (more…)