A Little Happier: Laura Ingalls Wilder, and We Can Admit that the People We Love Aren’t Perfect.

I’m a huge fan of children’s literature. I’m in three children’s literature reading groups, and I read that literature all the time.

So naturally one of my favorite writers is Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her Little House books are masterpieces.

The passage I read can be found in The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, in a letter from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Rose Wilder Lane, March 23, 1937:

You can see that all of this cost money. I would have no idea how much. I know Pa sent money home for doctor bills after he was working for the railroad. But Pa was no businessman, He was a hunter and trapper, a musician and poet.

Such a moving tribute to Pa — a wonderful, wonderful father.

If  you’d like to discover some great children’s literature, here’s a list of just a few of my favorites.

What are some of your favorite children’s books? I’m always looking for new suggestions.

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


Happier listening!

According to Stephen King: “The Scariest Moment Is Always ____.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

–Stephen King, On Writing

Stephen King is talking about writing, but I think this applies to starting, generally.

And for people who struggle with procrastination, it’s a very helpful thing to remember. Just start. Once you start, you’re through the scariest part!

For ideas about how to get started, and how to fight procrastination, check out my book Better Than Before. Fighting procrastination is a major theme.

Do You Ever Enjoy Listening to a Spirited Discussion about a Subject You Know Nothing About? I Do.

Have I mentioned that I have a podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin? Oh right, I think maybe I have.

Well, because I’m fascinated with all things podcast-related, I get a brilliant newsletter called Hot Pod, which is written by my friend Nicholas Quah.

The newsletter covers the highly specialized world of podcasts, but Nick is such a terrific writer that he often throws in asides or observations that resonate far beyond his official topic.

For instance, in today’s newsletter he wrote about how he’d been listening to a podcast called  Card Talk about the hit trading card game “Magic: The Gathering.” Then he added:

So, I’m not a Magic player myself — I had a passing interest when I was a teenager in Malaysia, but TV ended up sucking more of time…but I find myself really drawn to the patter and rhythm of the often insular, community-specific language baked in free-flowing conversation. Do you ever have that experience where you turn on like, a sports radio program for a sport you don’t really follow because it’s just really damn fun to listen to people get into the weeds of something they know a whole lot about? It’s like immersing yourself in a place that speaks a whole other language, and it builds up a certain envy of wanting to be in that in-group, because here I am now wishing that I had spent more time nerding out about MTG back when I was growing up back home. Hmm. A portal into a life I could be living right now.

[Sentence bolded by me]

When I read this I thought — yes! I know that feeling exactly, and I thought it was just some weird idiosyncratic aspect of my own nature.

I do find that sometimes I find it entertaining to hear a spirited discussion about something I know nothing about–whether that’s basketball, the Grammy Awards, the Real Housewives, the Olympics, opera, nice restaurants in New York City, international monetary policy.

Why that is, I don’t know. Sometimes it makes me want to know more–but usually not. It’s just fun to listen to people talk, to hear the lingo, the debates, the nuances, the history, the jokes, and most of all, the enthusiasm–without really understanding what’s being discussed. An odd phenomenon.

Do you ever enjoy listening to people discuss a subject you know nothing about?

Podcast 78: Seek Out Silence, Are You Pulled Toward Work or Leisure, and Don’t Over-Plan Your Summer.

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

Update: Our listener Kristen pointed out that when using the Strategy of Pairing (one of the Strategies from my book Better Than Before), it’s also important to be able to unpair activities — such as unpairing the idea that you can’t exercise because it will mess up your hair.

Try This at Home: Seek out silence.

Happiness Hack: When we were young adults, our parents would always cover the cost when we traveled to visit each other.

Know Yourself Better: Do you feel pulled more toward work, or toward leisure?

Listener Question: Alison asks about how to deal with her distress after losing her engagement ring.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I learn that I don’t have enough time in my day to follow through with my entire “design my summer” plan. I had three ways to design my summer, and I can only do two out of three.

Elizabeth'sArtElizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her sister-in-law Michelle, for encouraging her and Adam to buy a piece of art for their walls. As you can see, very California!

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

And if you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #78

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News Flash: Watching TV with Your Sweetheart May Boost Your Happiness.

I’m very interested in the role of TV-watching in our happiness. After all,  after sleeping and work, it’s the biggest consumer of the world’s time.

So I was interested to see that new research suggests that for  couples who don’t have lots of mutual friends, watching the same TV show (or reading the same book or going to the same movie) can help both people feel that they inhabit in the same social world.

It turns out that couples who have lots of mutual friends tend to have the strongest bonds, and for those who don’t have a lot of mutual friends, having “shared media experiences” helps them to feel connected.

This rang true for me. My husband Jamie and I have some mutual friends, but our social worlds don’t overlap extensively. Years ago, we both worked at the Federal Communications Commission, and I remember how much fun it was when we knew so many people in common.

We do have the habit of choosing shows to watch together, and it really is an activity that draws us closer. For instance, we’ve watched Transparent, Game of Thrones, The Wire, Lost, The Shield.

I bet this finding is true for non-romantic relationships, too. With my daughters, I’ve watched The Office (American version), Friends (yes, questionable judgment on my part, it’s raunchier than I remembered), The Mindy Project, SuperStore. And I’ve heard of offices that have a specific “office show” that people watch and discuss. It gives everyone something to talk about — and a form of unhurtful gossip — apart from work.

I love to read, and I like reading in a room where someone else is reading, but it’s true that this activity has never seemed as…companionable…as watching the same TV show or movie. We’re not inhabiting the same inner world, we’re not reacting to the same material at the same time.

I always felt a bit guilty about watching these TV shows with my husband — shouldn’t we be doing something else? But now I recognize that it’s a valuable, relationship-strengthening activity.

Do you have a TV show that you watch with your sweetheart? Do you feel as if it draws you closer?