7 Terrific Books If You’re Getting a Dog — What Books Have I Overlooked?

As I mentioned, my family has a new puppy! Barnaby.

It’s very exciting, and a bit overwhelming, to have a dog in the apartment. It’s wonderful; and it’s also lot of change, and I wouldn’t say that I’m the most….flexible person out there.

As my sister said in episode 27 of our podcast, as she quoted from the theme song to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “It’s gonna be a fascinating transition.

For me to process any experience, I really need to read about it. So I’ve been reading tons of dog books. Some are how-to, of the “Ultimate Guide to Dogs” type of book, but I really enjoyed — and got more — from the memoirs. Below are some of my favorites so far.

7 Terrific Books If You’re Getting a Dog

1, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals, Temple Grandin. I love reading Temple Grandin.

2. You Had Me a Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness, Julie Klam. How could I resist that title? (more…)

Do You Ever Get the “Cold Fish Dying in Your Stomach Feeling?”

“It’s the cold fish dying in your stomach feeling. You try to forget about it, but as soon as you do, the fish starts flopping around under your heart and reminds you that something truly horrible is happening.

“[Great-grandmother] Jiko felt like that when she learned that her only son was going to be killed in the war. I know, because I told her about the fish in my stomach, and she said she knew exactly what I was talking about, and that she had a fish, too, for many years. In fact, she said she had lots of fishes, some that were small like sardines, some that were medium-sized like carp, and other ones that were as big as a bluefin tuna, but the biggest fish of all belonged to Haruki #1, and it was more like the size of a whale. She also said that after she became a [Buddhist] nun and renounced the world, she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.”

–Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

I really loved this novel–in fact, I loved it so much that I (more…)

Do You Text While Driving? Why You Shouldn’t–and How to Stop.

Guess: What’s one habit that’s very common and extremely dangerous?

Yes, of course, smoking. But what else?

Using your smart phone while driving is a terrible habit. So common, so dangerous. About one quarter of car accidents involve the use of a smart phone.

It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just glance at the screen,” but it takes a minimum of five seconds to take a look, and if you’re going 55 mph, you’ll go the length of a football field in that time.

And it turns out that just reaching for the device raises the chance of an accident.

Probably, most of us know that using a phone while driving is a bad idea. And yet we’re in that habit. So how to stop? (more…)

Podcast 29: Why Elizabeth and I Lower the Bar, Use the Clean Slate to Change Habits, and Try to Stop Wasting Food.

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

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.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin: Episode 29

jacketphotobuildingsUpdate: After many months, I realized that the buildings pictured on the cover of The Happiness Project are just a few blocks from the studio where we record this podcast. Fun!

Try This at Home: Lower the bar. In other words — cribbing from Voltaire — don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (Thanks to our producer Henry, for the hilariously appropriate musical accompaniment.)

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of the Clean Slate means that any transition is a great time to change a habit. It’s a powerful strategy, but one that’s not always available to us, so it plays to be on the watch for opportunities.

Listener Questioner: “Any tips for cultivating happiness when you have small children?”

We mention this little one-minute video I made, which, of everything I’ve written, probably resonates most with people: The days are long, but the years are short.

Gretchen’s Demerit: We waste food. Any suggestions?

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s writing partner Sarah lives in a neighborhood that had a neighborhood-wise garage sale.

I mention the delightful picture book by Cynthia Rylant, Poppleton in Spring. I love all the Poppleton books.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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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!

HAPPIER listening!

Zoikes, We Got a Dog! Welcome, Barnaby.

Big news! My family got a dog today.

Listeners of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast heard me discuss my inner debate with my sister Elizabeth, about whether or not to get a dog. (Listen here.)

And then I talked about why I decided — yes, let’s get a dog! (Listen here.) In the end, as I tell Elizabeth on the podcast, I decided to “choose the bigger life” — a question I always find helpful when I’m having trouble making a tough decision.

We went to pick him up to day. He’s an eleven-week-old cockapoo. So sweet and lovely.  My daughters chose the name Barnaby.

We’re excited, and truthfully — well, it’s probably more true for me than for the rest of family — a little overwhelmed by the new responsibilities and the learning curve. Wish me luck!

And I’m racing through dog books. Whenever  I need to learn or even experience something, I want to read about it. Any suggestions, please send my way.

I asked for podcast listeners for dog advice, and got so many great insights and suggestions.

Many people encouraged us to get a rescue dog. I have so much admiration for people who do that, and I have several friends who have adopted wonderful rescue dogs.

In fact, for great memoirs on the subject, read my friend Julie Klam’s You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness and  Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself.

But I know myself and my family. For us to get a dog, we needed to know a lot about what to expect.

Also, many listeners suggested getting a dog who had outgrown puppy-hood. While I was out of town, my husband and two daughters went to visit some dogs, and fell in love with this puppy. So — eleven weeks old, it is.

I’ll report periodically on how having a dog has affected our happiness and habits. I predict that for a little dog, Barnaby will make a big splash.

Onward and upward! Advice, suggestions, and reading recommendations welcome!