A Little Happier: Remember to Go Outside.

This is a very helpful Secret of Adulthood: Remember to go outside.

Go outside into the sunlight; light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood and increase motivation.

For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.

Also, at least for me, unscientifically speaking, spending time outside gives a feeling of freedom, of connecting with the seasons (even when the weather isn’t ideal), of breathing fresh air, of not being so trapped by a schedule that I can’t be out in the world.

People in industrialized countries spent about 93% of their time inside; don’t forget how energizing and cheering it can be to go outdoors.

We love our puppy Barnaby for many reasons, and he definitely does encourage every member of my family to go outside more often.

What about you? Do you love to go outside, or do you have to prod yourself to make sure you do it?

 

I hope you’re enjoying the new mini-episodes. I love doing them.

Thanks, as always, to my terrific sponsor: Audible. Audible has more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio products. Get a free 30-day trial at Audible.com/happier.  Your first book is free! You can choose from a huge selection — including my books, Better Than Before or The Happiness Project. I’m the reader for both of them.

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In Honor of Shakespeare’s Birthday: My Favorite Shakespeare Passage.

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! (At least, according to tradition.)

So, in honor of the day, here’s my favorite Shakespeare passage, from Antony and Cleopatra, when Cleopatra is mourning the dead Antony:

For his bounty,
There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk’d crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp’d from his pocket. (V.2.79)

 

In this three-minute podcast, A Little Happier, I talk about why I love this passage: Enthusiasm is the best teacher. Listen here.

What’s your favorite line or passage from Shakespeare? There are so many.

7 Great Movies about the Nature of Happiness and Love.

I love making lists, and here’s a list of seven of my favorite movies about happiness. They don’t necessarily make me feel light-hearted, but they’ve all inspired me to think deeply about the nature of happiness and love.

As I look at my choices, I see to my surprise that as a group, they’re a bit strange. And also quite R-rated.

Happiness and…the porn industry? Happiness and…strangers beating each other up? And yet I think that each of these movies is very transcendent, in its own way.

  1. Junebug — a haunting movie about the deep mysteries of family; what we know about each other; how we show love and respect for each other
  2. Saturday Night Fever –– the disco music is better than I remembered, and the movie is also about sharing a passion with another person, and the bonds that can create
  3. All That Jazz — I talk about my crazy love for this movie in episode 57 of the podcast
  4. Boogie Nights — true, this movie takes place in the porn industry, but it’s also a movie that makes me think about friendship, work, and how we find out path in the world
  5. Terms of Endearment — funny, sad, thought-provoking. I’ll never forget the scene where the mother demands pain medication for her daughter.
  6. Fight Club — the novel is also brilliant. Strange, yes. Deeply strange, yes. But brilliant.
  7. Husbands and Wives — I’ve seen this movie five times, and I see new things every time. A fascinating picture of a place (New York City), a time of life, several kinds of romantic relationships.

What movies would you remove – and more interesting, what movies would you add? I’d love to get a long list of movies about happiness.

Podcast 61: Stop Apologizing, Variety vs. Familiarity, and the Problem of Passwords

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

 Try This at Home: Stop apologizing.

Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer variety or familiarity?

Listener Question: “How can I remember my online passwords?” Elizabeth and I need an answer to this question, too! So listeners, send us your brilliant solutions. Plus, we talk about some great lucky charms that listeners told us about, in response to episode 59.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth didn’t spend enough time with her friends while she was in New York City.

Gretchen’s Gold Star
: I give a gold star to our father, who showed me a great parenting tip: when a child (or adult) says that something hurts, really pay attention. Often, that’s enough to make a person feel better. (In passing, Elizabeth and I mention our habit of “updates”–learn more here.)

Remember, if you want to request bookplates or signature cards for a mother in your life, to make the gift of a book more special for Mothers’ Day — or if you want a bookplate or signature card for yourself! — you can request them here.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #61

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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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“I Was Drawn to the Notion of Freeing Up Time and Space and Energy for the Things that Matter Most.”

Interview: Joshua Becker.

Joshua Becker and I met during a conference in Portland, Oregon — I was very interested to meet him, because I’d read posts on his site, Becoming Minimalist.

Within the larger subject of happiness, one of the most complex, and emotionally charged, is the role of possessions and happiness.

I write a lot about this issue in The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. And in Better Than Before, I write about the distinction between simplicity-lovers and abundance-lovers. I think it’s safe to say that Joshua is a simplicity lover! (Now, some simplicity-lovers say that simplicity is the true abundance…but there’s a difference between simplicity-abundance and abundance-abundance.)

Joshua has a book that’s just about to hit the shelves. He describes  The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own as “a book about owning less, but it’s more than that. It’s a book about generosity and intentionality and learning to pursue happiness in more fulfilling places than the acquisition of money or possessions.”

I was intrigued to hear what he’d have to say on the subject of habits, happiness, and minimalism.

Gretchen: Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you changed a major habit very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

Joshua: Absolutely! In fact, the work I do today is based on a lightning bolt moment. Eight years ago, while cleaning out my garage, I was introduced to the idea of intentionally owning fewer possessions during a short conversation with my neighbor. At the time, this was counter-intuitive to me. I’d spent most of my life pursuing and accumulating as many material possessions as I could afford. But when my neighbor introduced me to the idea of minimalism, I was immediately drawn to the notion of freeing up time and space and energy for the things that matter most. Ever since then, I’ve worked to keep my possessions at a minimum and help others discover there is more joy to be found in owning less than we can ever discover pursuing more.

Which habits are most important to you? (for heath, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

It is important for me to clear distractions—both at work and at home. Distractions can come from any number of places, but I often find that removing physical distractions (clutter) from my environment provides me both calm and focus. For me, this means something simple: clearing my desk at the end of the workday and cleaning my kitchen at the end of the evening so each day begins fresh. Recently, somebody advised that I do the same with my computer (shutting browser tabs, saving and closing documents at the end of the day)—I have been enjoying that routine for the past few weeks.

Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

I’m not sure I’d classify it as a habit—I usually think of it as more of a temptation that often gets the best of me. But internally, I’ve struggled with jealousy as long as I can remember. For example, I often find myself becoming envious of the skill and success of other writers or of those who are younger but have seemingly accomplished more. Sometimes I find motivation in this envy, but most of the time it is crippling and burdensome.

What’s something you know now about forming healthy habits that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

One important realization that I made recently in life is that my predisposition does not determine my future. For the longest time, I would excuse negative habits as “just the way I am.” Often times, with an almost defeatist attitude, we make excuses for our negative behaviors or unhealthy habits by appealing to an unchangeable, internal force that makes decisions for us. And while our specific personalities certainly do make some habits more difficult to implement, it is important to realize the opportunity to create new ones is always available to us.

Do you embrace habits or resist them?

Minimalism served as a catalyst to embrace greater intentionality in all areas of my life. Eight years ago, I would never have responded to this question by saying I embrace habits. But today, I do. In fact, I see them as essential to living my fullest life possible.

Has another person ever had a big influence on your habits?

Leo Babauta’s writing on habit creation has been very influential in my life (Zen Habits). I recommend his work to everyone. His approach is practical, helpful, positive, and encouraging.