Do You Keep a Contented Heart? I Work at This.

“This day by God’s mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate; and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any is in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers and to bed.”

Diary of Samuel Pepys, February 1662

I love this passage, and it inspired the resolutions for the month of November in The Happiness Project. I resolved to “keep a contented heart,” because I realized that no matter what’s happening in my life, I’m going to be happy only if I “have a heart to be contented.”

One of my most frequent faults is fretfulness — annoyance and complaints about minor inconveniences or little mistakes or oversights by others.

You can hear Elizabeth and me talk about this issue on the podcast, episode 20...when she mentions a time when I complained to my husband about the onions he put in the frittata. I complained — but then I did eventually remember to keep a contented heart, and I apologized for my carping.

One of my main aims is to remember how happy I already am. Do you struggle with this?

Two Million Downloads! Thank You, Readers and Listeners!

My sister Elizabeth and I are so happy. We just passed a big milestone for our podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. We’ve had more than two million downloads! (2, 019,041 for anyone who, hypothetically, checks the numbers constantly.)

Our first podcast was on February 25, so we haven’t been doing it very long.

We’ve been thrilled by the enthusiastic response of listeners. It has been great to hear the comments on the voicemail, to read the emails, the tweets, the posts on Facebook…keep them coming! We particularly loved all the comments submitted for the Very Special Episode featuring listeners.

We’re celebrating this milestone, and we also want to help the podcast grow. So let me make a special request — to Make a Friend Happier.  For a new podcast like ours, it really helps to get the word out — and for that, word of mouth is the best.

If you’re a fan, make a friend happier by telling them about the podcast — and don’t just mention it, actually show that person how to subscribe. A lot of people are intrigued by podcasts, but just don’t know how to listen. It really is super-easy. Quick instructions here. Or if you prefer to listen to a 3-minute clip of instructions, you can hear Elizabeth and me explain how to do it. We really appreciate the help.

Want to listen to the first episode? Go here.

Want to listen to the episode recorded in Elizabeth’s closet, as I helped her to clean her closet? Go here.

Want to listen to the episode that has inspired the most controversy? Go here. See if you can guess what topic inspired disagreement.

Thanks again, readers and listeners, for your enthusiasm and support and ideas.

Podcast 20: Very Special Episode! Featuring Great Comments from Our Listeners.

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

Yes, it’s the Very Special Episode! (I’ve always loved that phrase so very happy to have an excuse to use it.)

We’ve had such terrific comments from listeners that we wanted to give everyone a chance to hear from everyone else. It seemed like a great way to celebrate hitting the milestone of our 20th episode (plus, we’ve had almost two million downloads, yowza). We couldn’t include all comments, alas, but we read them all — so fascinating.

First, we asked people, “If you could change one aspect of a relationship, what would you change?

Such insightful comments. Elizabeth and I were very impressed by the fact that so many people talked about how they wanted to change themselves, in order to change a relationship. So wise. The only person we can change is ourselves.

If you want to watch the scene we play from the brilliant movie Broadcast News, go here.

We also asked people to call in with their demerits and gold stars. So many interesting ones.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro technique that was mentioned, go here.

Elizabeth appreciated all the kind comments about her voice!

We end with a special request of our listeners — to Make a Friend Happier.  For a new podcast like ours, it really helps to get the word out — and for that, word of mouth is the best. If you’re a fan, make a friend happier by telling them about the podcast — and don’t just mention it, actually show that person how to subscribe. A lot of people are intrigued by podcasts, but just don’t know how to listen. It really is super-easy. Instructions here, or scroll down to the bottom of this post. We really appreciate the help.

Don’t miss the final comment, right at the very end! Spoiler alert: skunk.

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 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 to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including The Art of Travel Photography, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you:  contact us with your questions, comments, examples, anything. Get in touch!

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

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 here 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. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want 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.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, 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!

Secrets of Adulthood: Hell Is Other People. Heaven Is Other People.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Hell is other people. Heaven is other people.

Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: to be happy, we need relationships. We need enduring, intimate bonds; we need to be able to confide; we need to feel like we belong; we need to be able to get support–and just as important for happiness, we need to be able to give support.

Hell is other people. Heaven is other people, too.

Agree, disagree?

Why This Scene from Game of Thrones Made Me Happy

I’m a big fan of (A) Game of Thrones — the books (I’ve read them all twice) and the TV show. And, of course, the Coldplay musical.

Of everything I’ve ever written, the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short” from The Happiness Project is probably the line that has resonated most with people.

I even made a one-minute video about it.


Because I’m such a fan of Game of Thrones, I was thrilled when my older daughter said, “Hey, you have to see this conversation between Jaime and Cersei.” She showed me the scene on YouTube.


When Cersei tells Jaime, “You should be the Hand of the King” — he replies, “Their days are too long, their lives are too short.”

Love it!