A Little Happier: If Others Think I Can Do a Job, I Can Probably Do It.

I love it when people know just the right thing to say in a situation. Here’s one of my favorite examples — when a friend found the right thing to say to me, when I was nervous before a job interview with Justice O’Connor.

(Spoiler alert: I did get the job.)

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Do You Have an Intense Interest in a Subject–Such as Nature?

The other night, I had a fun dinner with my law-school roommate — the roommate who told me about how she had the signature color of fuschia, if you listened to that recent episode of the Happier podcast.

I was telling her how, thanks in part to her, I’d become enchanted with idea of color; it has become my latest obsession.  (Other recent obsessions include Thomas Merton, the sense of smell.)

For her part, she said, she’d been thinking about her interest in nature. Apparently, she loves nature! Which was something I’d never known about her. So, in my happiness bully way, I tried to convince her to pursue this love — learn more, take a class, plan a trip, whatever appealed to her.

She’s thinking about it. And as a follow-up from that conversation, I sent her one of my very favorite quotations about a love of nature, from the French painter Eugene Delacroix’s brilliant Journal.

“The Natural History Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays. Elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus; extraordinary animals! Rubens rendered them marvelously. I had a feeling of happiness as soon as I entered the place and the further I went the stronger it grew. I felt my whole being rise above commonplaces and trivialities and the petty worries of my daily life. What an immense variety of animals and species of different shapes and functions!”

Journal of Eugene Delacroix

Do you have a similar passion for the natural world? Or for color, or for stamps, or antique globes, or for anything else?

Podcast 72: Make Sure to Have “Room of Your Own,” Beware the Incomplete Upgrade, and My Parental Failure.

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

Update: In episode 64, we introduced the segment of the “Happiness Hack.” Some listeners sent us their favorite hacks. Keep sending them in! We love reading them.

Try This at Home: Have room of your own. Maybe not an entire room, but some room.

Happiness Stumbling Block: The incomplete upgrade. Have you experienced this?

Listener Question: Missy “I’m moving in with my boyfriend. I don’t have a TV, but my boyfriend has one. How do I avoid spending too much time on the couch?”

Gretchen’s Demerit: I didn’t warn my daughter that once her cellphone screen cracked, she should go ahead and get it fixed, even though the phone was still working. Why? Because inevitably it will stop working at the most inconvenient possible time. Which it did.

 Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to summer traffic in Los Angeles.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

If you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, it’s here.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #72

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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.

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5 Tips to Deal with Insomnia

Recently I had a bad night of tossing and turning. I was up for a few hours, then overslept the next morning.

And while I was lying there, unable to sleep, I knew I was violating some of the beat-the-insomnia advice that experts give. Though, true, to give myself credit, I was following some advice.

These tips were on my mind, because I’d just read Andrea Petersen’s Wall Street Journal piece “Middle-of-the-Night Insomnia Blues.”

I violated one of the most basic back-to-sleep tips — the tip to get up, rather than toss and turn.

If you have trouble with insomnia, here are some of the tips from the article:

1. If you’re wide awake, get up.

I just kept lying there thinking, “I should get up.” Somehow, I couldn’t muster the energy to get up. I would’ve been a little cold, when I got out from under the covers, and I didn’t feel like reading my book…so I just stayed put.  Bad idea.

2. I love this tip: If you watch TV, wear sunglasses.

Hilarious! It helps to block the light that will mess up your circadian rhythm. I couldn’t watch TV during my insomnia because (this is embarrassing to admit) my family and I were staying in a rental house, and I didn’t know how to turn on the TV.  TV-watching is so confusing these days. If I’d been wide awake, I could’ve figured out how to manage the TV, but I couldn’t face the challenge in the middle of the night.

3. Don’t eat.

make a point not to eat between dinner and breakfast, as a habit for healthy eating, but the article makes an interesting additional argument: middle-of-the-night eating can condition you to keep doing it in the future. I was reminded of a dog-training story I just read: a couple  had trouble because their dog kept waking them up in the middle of the night to eat. Turned out that the dog had been conditioned to do that, because they’d had a new baby, and the father was getting up to the feed the baby, and at the same time, he gave the dog a snack. The baby started sleeping through the night, but the dog still wanted the snack.

4. Don’t sleep late the next morning.

Which I did, by accident.  Usually I set my alarm, and I really don’t know why I forgot to set it that night. Bad timing, but fortunately, I slept well the next night.

5. If you get up, keep lights dim.

I’m good about doing this. It really does help. When we moved into our apartment, I was careful to make sure to put dimmable lights in the bathroom.

Interesting fact I learned: “Waking up–and staying up–in the middle of the night is more common than having trouble falling asleep.

I wrote more sleep-related tips here: 14 tips for getting more sleep–and why it matters. I’m a sleep zealot!  I’ve learned through tough experience that it’s hard to be happy, and to stick to my good habits, when I’m exhausted. In fact, “sleep” is one of the key habits for the Strategy of Foundation that I write about in Better Than Before. If you want to change a habit — any habit — getting enough sleep is a key first step.

Do you have any good tips for battling insomnia?

A Little Happier: I May Not Be the Best, But I’m Probably Not the Worst.

This conversation I had with my husband, during the first year we were married, is something I recall often.

I don’t want to settle for mediocrity, but it’s comforting to remember that — well, I may not the best at something, but I’m probably not the worst.

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