Podcast 34: Have a Difficult Conversation, and a Talk with Lisa Randall, Harvard Physics Professor (and Rebel). Plus, Hard-Boiled Eggs.

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

Update:  Elizabeth, the ever-loyal sister, gives a plug for the new jacket for the paperback of my book, Better Than Before.  I love the new art — I hope you like it, too. Buy early, buy often!

Also, I’ve been experiencing a backslash backlash.  No backslash! I will not make that mistake again! To look up an episode here on my site, use happiercast.com/34 (or whatever number you’re looking for).

We also feature more great listener responses to my sixteen-year-old daughter Eliza’s request for advice in episode 30.  So helpful and fascinating. (Actually, Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.“)

Plus, if you’d like to get an email alert every time we release a new episode, you can sign up here.

Try This at Home: Have an uncomfortable conversation. I mention Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. To read more about this topic, check out my book Happier at Home, chapter on “Family.”

InterviewLisa Randall. She’s a Harvard professor who studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology. Her new book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: the Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, will hit the shelves in a few weeks; it’s already garnered lots of buzz and starred reviews. (Fun fact: Time magazine named Lisa one of the “100 Most Influential People” in 2007.

For those of you interested in the Four Tendencies framework (and aren’t we all?), Lisa talks about being a Rebel. Her Try This at Home…very Rebel!

Gretchen’s Demerit: I talked to Barnaby in a mean voice. I’m trying so hard to do better.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Hard-boiled eggs are helping Elizabeth to keep her blood sugar level down. (A good example of using the Strategy of Convenience for habit change.)

Happier with Gretchen Rubin #34 -- Visit Happiercast.com/34 to listen

Call for comments, questions, observations!

Starting next week, we’re going to spend four weeks talking about my Four Tendencies framework for human nature. We’ve already had many thought-provoking responses, but we want more.

 

Please, send in our questions and comments by voicemail, email, etc. What’s your experience with yourself, spouse, child, patient, colleague, boss, friend, etc? We’re dying to hear from you.

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As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — have you ever had a difficult conversation? What kind, and did it make you happier?

There’s lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

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

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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!

Eager to Change Your Habits? This Will Make It More Convenient.

I’m very excited to announce that Better Than Before: A Day-by-Day Journal has hit the shelves!

I really love this journal.

Many people have told me that once they read Better Than Before, they were eager to get cracking on their habits — so eager, in fact, that the process could seem a little overwhelming. So much to do, and to try.

That’s where the Journal comes in handy. By organizing your thoughts, it makes the process much easier.  The Journal will help you identify what habits you want to change, figure out what strategies to use, track your progress — and actually change your habits.

There’s  a lot of tips and information meant to make habit-change easier, plus room to write your own comments. Using the Journal will make it easier to apply the ideas and principles from Better Than Before to your own experience. It’s a companion book that will deepen your understanding.

Many people have told me that the “don’t break the chain” system works well for them, so the Journal’s “Habit Tracker” allows you to mark that chain as you go. (If you want to read more on this subject, it’s in Better Than Before, in the chapter on the Strategy of Starting.)

Don’t worry about starting on January 1. The Journal starts at “Week 1,” and you fill in the dates. So you can start at any point. Remember,  as the Habits Manifesto states, once we’re ready to begin, we should begin now.

One of the most powerful strategies is the Strategy of Convenience. By making it convenient — and pleasant — to keep track of how you’re doing, you make it easier on yourself to keep up with it.

The Better Than Before Journal a tool, and a resource, and it’s also meant to be a kind of memento! Your record of how you’re better than before.

It really is worth tackling our habits. After all, about forty percent of our daily lives is shaped by our habits. Habits shape our existence–and our future. If we change our habits, we can change our lives.

Order now from Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Indiebound

For you library fans and audio-fans…this isn’t that kind of book. For this, you need ye olde paper. To see the inside, click here to watch a quick video I made. 

Have you ever used a journal — or any kind of record-making — to help you change your habits in the past? Was it a useful exercise?

Video: “What’s One Cupcake?” and the One-Coin 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 perhaps reject them.

In Better Than Before, I describe all ten categories of loopholes; in this video series. I’ve described them, one by one.

The final loophole: The one-coin loophole. This is a very dangerous loophole, because it always applies, and it’s always true! Beware!

 

I haven’t worked on that project for such a long time, there’s no point in working on it this morning.

 

One beer won’t make a difference.

 

What difference does it make if I spend this afternoon at the library or at a video arcade?

 

Why work on my report today, when the deadline is so far away?

 

Why should I bother to wear my bike helmet today?

If you want to know why it’s called the “one-coin loophole,” I explain in the video. Here’s the book I mention: a footnote in Erasmus’s Praise of Folly.

Do you find yourself invoking this all-too-applicable loophole? In what context?

It’s dangerous because it’s true.

The 7 Basic Plots of Stories — Do You Have a Favorite?

One of my favorite things in the world is Slightly Foxed: the Real Reader’s Quarterly. It’s a quarterly magazine, published in London, that features short essays written by people about books they love.

Often these books are out of print, and often they’re eccentric choices — but I’ve found so many great books from Slightly Foxed. (The name “Slightly Foxed” refers to a term used to describe the age-related spots and browning that appears on old paper.)

If you’re a serious reader, it’s great to have a reliable source of recommendations, especially for books that were published years ago. It’s easy to find about what’s being published now, but what about a great book that came out forty years ago?

That’s one of the reasons I started my own book club — there are so many books that I love, and I wanted a way to share those suggestions with other people looking for great reading ideas. (Want to join my book club? Each month I suggest one great book about happiness or habits; one great work of children’s literature; and one eccentric pick. Sign up here. We have about 60,000 members.)

In the Winter 2014 issue of Slightly Foxed, which I happened to pick up again yesterday, for some reason mysterious even to myself, there’s an essay by Richard Platt about Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories.

According to Booker, the seven basic plots are:

  1. Overcoming the monster (Beowolf, Jaws)
  2. Rags to Riches (Aladdin, Oliver Twist)
  3. The Quest (Odyssey, Watership Down)
  4. Comedy (Aristophanes, The Marx Brothers)
  5. Tragedy (Oedipus, Macbeth)
  6. Rebirth (Sleeping Beauty, A Christmas Carol)
  7. Voyage and Return (Peter Rabbit, Brideshead Revisited)

Booker says that a few works even combine all seven basic plots, and the one example he gives is…can you guess?

He says: The Lord of the Rings.

I would add: Harry Potter!

It’s fun to think about what plot or plots a particular story embodies.

Do you have a favorite plot? I love them all.

Podcast 33: Try a Boot Camp — and Have You Ever Experienced a “Lightning Bolt” Change in Habits?

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

Update: Elizabeth gets a gold star for going to bed early, which is a struggle for her. But she’s having trouble working on her young-adult novel. She’s going to try to do it for two days a week.

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/33 (or the number of whatever episode you’re looking for).

Plus, if you’d like to get an email alert every time we release a new episode, you can sign up here.

Try This at Home: Try a boot camp for yourself. I mention Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! where he describes how to write a novel in a month. You can also join National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever done a boot camp — if so, what kind?

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: the Strategy of the Lightning Bolt. This Strategy is unique among the twenty-one strategies, because it’s not something you can do; it’s something that happens to you. How about you? Ever experienced this phenomenon? It’s puzzling, interesting, sudden.

The book that hit me like a lightning bolt was Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat.

Listener Questioner: Elizabeth in Tennessee: “Do you have any tips on finishing the little left-over things that need to be done after you’ve moved houses?”

Elizabeth and Gretchen’s Demerit:  We didn’t get a guest for the podcast. The timing didn’t work out. Shoot!

nyslstairsGretchen’s Gold Star: How I love, love, love the New York Society Library. One of my favorite New York City institutions.

Call for comments, questions, observations! We’re going to spend four weeks talking about my Four Tendencies framework for human nature. We’ve already had many thought-provoking responses, but we want more.

 

Please, send in our questions and comments by voicemail, email, etc. What’s your experience with yourself, spouse, child, patient, colleague, boss, friend, etc? We’re dying to hear from you.

1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin #33

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including The Fundamentals of Photography, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

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

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — have you ever tried a boot camp, and if so what kind? Did it work? And share any tricks you’ve used to get yourself to put away those last items.

There’s lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

 

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

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.)

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

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!