The Thought of Mary Tyler Moore Always Makes Me Happy.

I was so sad to hear that Mary Tyler Moore has died. What a presence she had in our imaginations! Her show was on from 1970-1977, and yet the character she played is still familiar.

In 1999, the magazine Entertainment Weekly chose Mary Richards’s tossing her hat into the air as the second-great TV moment of the 1970s.

For me, it’s one of the happiest moments of all of TV. It gives me a chill, and lifts my spirits, every time I see it. It’s a moment of joyful, unself-conscious exuberance.

What an extraordinary image to leave behind.

Podcast 101: Do Something for Your Future Self, How Flying Wish Paper Eases Heartache, and “Integrator” or “Compartmentalizer?”

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

We’re having so much fun with our Instagram project. Join in, post photos of whatever makes you…happier! Use the hashtag #Happier2017 and tag us — I’m @gretchenrubin and @lizcraft.

As we discuss, The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

Try This at Home: We got this suggestion from our listener Nikki: Do something for your future self.

Here’s the post where Nikki got the idea: “Do something kind for future you” on Wil Wheaton’s blog.

If you’re an Obliger, what accountability strategies work for you? There’s a wide range of strategies that work for different Obligers.

Happiness Hack: In episode 97, we talked about the challenge of dealing with the pain and anger of a break up.

Our listener Donna had a great approach, by creating a ritual using flying wish paper:

I was sad, angry and regretful.  I knew the break-up needed to happen, but was having a hard time processing the emotions that came after.  I purchased some flying wish paper and I wrote out all of the things I wanted to release about the situation – using one piece of paper for each thing.  I then took the paper, matches and a glass of wine outside to my patio, put on some nice music and lit the papers one at a time.  As the papers burned down, they lifted off into the air.  It felt like a tribute instead of a catharsis.  I was acknowledging that these feelings had been a part of my life, but were no longer serving me and so I was letting them go.

If you’re curious about flying wish paper, you can check it out here — it comes in all sorts of colors and patterns. (in our family, we use flying wish paper to makes wishes for the new year, and I’ve also used it as a fun activity at a birthday party.)

Know Yourself Better: Are you an “integrator” or a “compartmentalizer?” Kathleen wrote:

I’ve noticed in the workplace that folks tend to fall into one category or the other when it comes to how they deal with the crossover between work and life.  For example, some people seem perfectly happy to answer emails on the weekends, to work on projects late at night, etc., all while they integrate fun into the day (social lunches, coffee breaks, extended online shopping or social media sessions).  I think of these folks as integrators — folks who, seemingly quite willingly, blend work and life together.  They don’t seem to mind switching between the two.

 

Some of us, on the other hand, are compartmentalizers.  I fall squarely into this camp. Work is work, life is life, and I strive to keep the two separate in terms of time allocation.  I can’t enjoy a coffee break or a relaxed dinner when I know there’s a big project waiting for me to return (as intellectually engaging as that project may be), so I’d rather plow through the work first, then get to the fun as a reward.  I cut the fat from the workday, with the aim of making weekends and evenings — as much as humanly possible — work-free.  (I’m a lawyer at a big firm, so it’s often not possible, but it’s a goal worth chasing!)  I also seem to be one of the few professionals I know who won’t put her work email on her personal iPhone, instead preferring to keep the old firm-issued Blackberry as a second, separate device.

 

On the whole, the compartmentalizer approach makes me happier, because it means personal time is truly distinct and enjoyable, and the jarring transitions between life and work are minimized.  But I get that others work better when the boundaries between work and life are more fluid.

Listener Question: Whitney asks, “I have a  hang-up with the idea of a one-sentence journal. I feel like it would be stressful to try to distill my day into one sentence! Any tips for how to do that?”

Demerit: Years ago, I started a terrific system for keeping my daughters’ mementos in  a highly organized file box (I used this one), but I didn’t maintain it. Now I need to go back and get everything organized.

Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the enthusiastic, friendly, energetic crossing-guard in her neighborhood.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #101

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HAPPIER listening!

A Little Happier: One of My Favorite Images for Letting Go of Grief

I’ve been haunted — and comforted — by this passage from Ruth Ozeki’s wonderful novel, A Tale for the Time Being.

In the novel, Nao, who’s a teenage girl in Japan, is very worried about several serious problems, and she’s reflecting on a conversation she’d had with her great-grandmother, who is a Buddhist nun:

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.

I love this line…she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.

Not to overcome grief, or forget grief, or leave grief behind, but to release it into the great depths.

Listen to this mini-podcast episode by clicking PLAY below.

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

Like January 1 or a Birthday, Inauguration Day Prompts Me to Reflect. Plus, Schoolhouse Rock.

I often get what I call the “America feeling.” It’s such an intense emotion, that I usually get all choked up.

I got it when I went to see the Broadway show Hamilton, especially during the song “Cabinet Battle #1”:  “‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less.”

I get it every time I hear the song “The Farmer and the Cowman” from the musical Oklahoma! “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else — but I’ll be danged if I ain’t jist as good!”

When I was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, I got it every time the Court was called to order before oral arguments. “Oyes! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”

I get it every time I vote.

When I was writing my biography of John Kennedy, Forty Ways to Look at JFK, I got it each time I read my favorite speech of June 11, 1963. “This is one country.”

I got it when I applied for an emergency passport.

And today I keep thinking about something that always gives me the America feeling — the Schoolhouse Rock video, “Preamble.” How I love Schoolhouse Rock.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

In seventh grade, we all had to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution, and Schoolhouse Rock made it easy.

Do you experience something like the “America feeling?”

(Fill in the name of your own country!) Under what circumstances?

Certain days, such as January 1 or the celebration of a birthday, often remind us to reflect on our lives and our hopes for the future.

For me at least, Inauguration Day is prompting me to think about the highest ideals of the United States, and how I, in my own way, can strive to fulfill its promise.

The Happiness Lesson about Travel that I Have to Keep Learning, Over and Over.

Last weekend, I went to Havanna, Cuba, with some friends, to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

It was a terrific trip. But it reminded me of a happiness lesson I have to remind myself of, over and over.

Before I leave on a trip, I inevitably start to think, “It’s so much trouble to go, I dislike the hassle and the logistics, it would be so relaxing to have a staycation,” etc.

Of course I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel (especially to Cuba). I never forget that.

But I’m not a naturally travel-loving person; I tend to love familiarity and routine. I’m not very adventurous.

Once a trip is underway however — every time — I’m so happy. Time seems rich and slow. I meet  interesting people and get to do interesting things. I learn about the world. Even the most common objects — items on a grocery store shelf, cars, signs — are intriguing.

The happiness research shows that people who do novel and challenging things are happier than people who stick to their familiar ways. Even little things, like going to a new restaurant, give a boost.

So now, each time I start to have those thoughts, “Wouldn’t it be easier to stay home?” I remind myself, “You’ll be so glad once you’re there.” But still, although I’ve been through this process many times, I have to repeat that process.

I realize that a lot of people are scratching their heads, thinking, “Is she nuts? It’s so fun to travel! I love to travel! If only I had more time/money/energy to travel!”

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I’m not a natural travel-lover; I wish I were, but I’m not. But even so, I can get a big happiness boost from the experience.

How about you — do you love travel, or are you more like me?