Podcast 26: Pick a One-Word Theme for the Year, Take the First Step–and Paper or Digital Calendar?

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

I’m actually on vacation, but am making a brief appearance to post about this episode.

Update: Elizabeth records live from her treadmill desk Which we’ve discussed many times, including in the very first episode. Can you hear it whirring softly in the background?

In episode 24, I asked people to weigh in about a huge, life-changing decision I have to make: Should my family get a dog? We heard from so many people — it has been fascinating, and so helpful. You can listen to what people had to say in a montage of opinions. Also check  happierpodcastdogs.tumblr.com, to read people’s comments and see the photos of people’s adorable dogs. Thanks, listeners — and keep those insights coming.

Try This at Home: Pick a one-word theme for the year — the school year, that is. For Elizabeth and me, September is the other New Year. If you’re interested in this subject, I write more about it in Happier at Home.

Call us to let us know what one-word theme (or short phrase) you choose. It’s so interesting to hear what people pick.

Better Than Before Habits Strategy: The Strategy of First Steps. Practically always, the best time to begin is now. We need to resist “tomorrow logic,” which is the fantasy that everything will be easier–tomorrow.

Important note, in this episode, I misspoke, because I casually said that it would be tough to start a new habit when you were in the middle of moving — actually, that’s a great time to start a new habit, because of the Strategy of the Clean Slate. Stay tuned to hear more about that!

Listener Questioner: “I’m an anxious procrastinator…how do you get started when you’re terrified?”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth isn’t doing the very simple steps that would clear up her blepharitis.

filofaxgretchensarchivesGretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to my mother, for giving me my beloved Filofax. Here it is — plus my binders of archived calendar page stretching back many, many years.

Very fun to have this record.

filofaxmineHow about you? Paper calendar — or digital? Weigh in!

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors.

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 Smith and Noble, a solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you. Did you pick a one-word theme for the year? Call us and tell us what you chose. And weigh in on the great paper vs. digital calendar debate.

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or sign up here.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

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!

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.

And if you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. 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.)

HAPPIER listening!

Happiness Is…Taking a Vacation.

Farewell — I’m off on a family vacation.

It’s time for an “island of leisure,” as William Edward Hartpole Lecky put it:

“Pleasure is a jewel which will only retain its luster when it is in a setting of work, and a vacant life is one of the worst of pains, though the islands of leisure that stud a crowded, well-occupied life may be among the things to which we look back with the greatest delight.”

“But Gretchen,” you may be thinking, “how can I possibly get along without your daily musings about good habits and happiness?” Ah, all you need to do is to pick up a copy of Better Than Before, The Happiness Project, or Happier at Home. I can’t resist adding that these books were instant New York Times bestsellers, and The Happiness Project was on the bestseller list for two years. Yes, two years. Zoikes.

Or if you’re in the mood to listen, you can listen to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, the podcast I do with my sister Elizabeth Craft. We’re getting close to three million downloads, in just several months! Thank you, listeners. Not sure how to listen to a podcast? Very easy instructions here.

To learn more about Better Than Before, you can…

 

To learn more about Happier at Home, you can…

 

To learn more about The Happiness Project, you can…

  • -Read sample chapters
  • -Watch the one-minute book video
  • -Request the one-page discussion guide or spiritual discussion guide
  • -Listen to a sample of the audiobook (that’s me, reading from the Introduction)

 

I love vacation reading. I loaded up at the library and bookstore, so I’m all set. I still love print, but boy, it’s heavy.

Off I go. How about you? Have you taken a vacation recently?

Podcast 25: Hilarious Tips from A. J. Jacobs: Posture, Brainstorming, and Eat from the Fridge, Not the Pantry.

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

Update: In episode 21,we discussed the try-this-at-home tip, “Join or start a group.” We heard about many interesting, productive groups. Remember, you can request the starter kit for starting a Better Than Before Habits group, or a Happiness Project group. Or you can just email me a request.

Try This at Home-a-Palooza: Our terrific guest, the hilarious writer A. J. Jacobs, suggests a bunch of try-this-at-home tips: stand up straight, brainstorm for fifteen minutes a day, use sustainable honesty, and eat from the fridge, not the pantry. If you want more of A.J.’s humor and insights, read The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, Drop Dead Healthy, and The Guinea Pig Diaries.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I allow my ten-year-old to watch the TV show Friends. Appropriate — or not? Bonus: we include a clip from my favorite episode.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Rain! Drought-plagued Los Angeles got a day of rain.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors.  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 for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you. Did you try any of the tips suggested by A. J.?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

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!

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.

And if you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. 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.)

HAPPIER listening!

Agree, Disagree? Outer Order Contributes to Inner Calm.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Agree, disagree?

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command.

In the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box is trivial, and yet such things weigh us down more than they should.

That’s why I follow habits like making my bed and the one-minute rule, and why one of the most important strategies of habit formation is the Strategy of Foundation.

A friend once told me, “I finally cleaned out my fridge, and now I know I can switch careers” — and I knew exactly how that felt.

A good clutter-clearing makes me feel more energetic, more creative, and more in command of myself. And I know where my keys are!

Do you agree — that there’s a weirdly tight connection between getting control of the stuff of life and feeling in control of your life, generally?

Like Me, Are You Haunted by Reading People’s Final Journal Entries?

Lately, I’ve been somewhat obsessively reading Thomas Merton’s journals.

It was very eerie to read the final entry in his journal — which, of course, he had no idea would be his last. And that got me remembering other final journal entries from authors I love.

From Thomas Merton:

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In a little while I leave the hotel. I’m going to say Mass at St. Louis Church, have lunch at the Apostolic Delegation, and then on to the Red Cross place this afternoon.

The Journals of Thomas Merton, vol. 7, December 8, 1968, Bangkok (Merton died on December 10, 1968, while at a conference, from an accidental electric shock from a fan with faulty wiring)

From Virginia Woolf:

A curious sea side feeling in the air today. It reminds me of lodgings on a parade at Easter. Everyone leaning against the wind, nipped & silenced. All pulp removed.

This windy corner. And Nessa is at Brighton, & I am imagining how it wd be if we could infuse souls.

Octavia’s story. Could I englobe it somehow? English youth in 1900.

Two long letters from Shena & O. I cant tackle them, yet enjoy having them.

L.  is doing the rhododendrons…

–The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 5, March 24, 1941, Sussex (Woolf drowned herself on March 28, 1941)

Most haunting of all, from Anne Frank:

…I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if…if only there were no other people in the world.

The Diary of Anne Frank, August 1, 1944, Amsterdam (Frank was discovered and arrested on August 4, 1944, and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in late February or early March 1945)

From Flannery O’Connor:

This isn’t a journal entry, but the final letter written by Flannery O’Connor.

Dear Raybat,

Cowards can be just as vicious as those who declare themselves–more so. Dont take any romantic attitude toward that call. Be properly scared and go on doing what you have to do, but take the necessary precautions. And call the police. That might be a lead for them.

Dont know when I’ll send those stories. I’ve felt too bad to type them.

Cheers, Tarfunk

Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being, letter to Maryat Lee, July 28, 1964, Georgia (O’Connor died on August 3, 1964, of complications from lupus)

It’s a very solemn moment, coming to the end of a journal that I know was ended by death. Although the person writing it doesn’t infuse the words with special meaning, they seem to take on power from being the last.

For me, these entries serve as reminders to be grateful for my ordinary life, for the unremarkable routine that might be cut off at any moment.

This kind of memento mori may seem a bit grim — but I find it very helpful. I always struggle to remember how thankful I am for my everyday life, and this helps.

How about you? What practices help you to remember to be grateful for your ordinary day?