“Experience, Contrary to Popular Belief, is Mostly ____.” Mostly What?

“Experience, contrary to popular belief, is mostly imagination.”

–Ruth Benedict

Agree, disagree?

I’m reminded by a remark made by Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, along the same lines, “Were it not for imagination, Sir, a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a Duchess.”

What Would You Say to the Dalai Lama? Seriously.

I’m so excited. Next week, I’m going to Australia for the first time — that’s exciting.

But even more exciting, I get to meet the Dalai Lama. Not just be in a room with him, but actually meet him. Briefly.

It’s exciting, but it’s also a little unsettling. What should I say to the Dalai Lama? Should I try to ask a meaningful question, should I absorb his presence in silence, should I make polite chit-chat?

I’d really like to ask the question, “What’s it like to be the Dalai Lama?” But that’s probably unanswerable, and also a little impertinent.

Any suggestions welcome!

Live in Australia? My schedule is here. I’m really looking forward to this visit.


Podcast 15: Be a Tourist at Home, a Talk with Tom Rath, Office Supplies, and the Habit of Repeating Questions.

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

We’re very happy (of course) this week, because we hit several milestones.

First, we hit one million downloads, after just a few months! Incredible. We’re thrilled. Thank you listeners.

Not only that, we hit #4 on iTunes yesterday. Our highest ever. Yowza.

Another milestone, the podcast was featured in a BuzzFeed list 10 Life-Changing Thing to Try in June. That’s right, folks, we’re life-changing.

Yet another milestone:  we did our very first interview. We’ve planned to do interviews all along, and finally, we’re underway.

This week:

Update: I report on whether I managed to keep my “hostess neurosis” under control during my daughter’s birthday party. (In episode 14, I promised to try to avoid that fate.)

Try This at Home: Be a tourist in your own city.

tomrathInterview:  bestselling author Tom Rath.  His new book just hit the shelves: Are You Fully Charged? The Three Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. (Spoiler alert: the three keys are meaning, interactions, and energy.) If you want more, Tom and I interviewed each other here. Tom mentions the work of professor Teresa Amabile.

Listener Question: “How can I break my habit of snoozing the day away, and show up for myself as readily as I show up for others?” Go here if you want to read more about being an “Obliger.”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth asks her husband Adam the same question repeatedly, in hopes of getting the answer she wants.

plasticsleeveGretchen’s Gold Star: I confess my passion for clear plastic envelopes. It’s the little things!

Coming up: To celebrate our 20th episode, we’re going to do an episode that features our listeners. So call, email, post your response by June 24, 2015, to one of these questions:

— if you could change one aspect of a relationship, what would you change? Huge, trivial, any relationship.

— what happiness demerit would you give yourself? what gold star would you bestow?

Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: (774 HAPPY 336).  Facebook Page. Or comment right here.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Check out Smith and Noble, a solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

And Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge order.

And we would love to hear from you — whether you tried being a tourist in your own home. Comment here, or even better, post a photo of it on Facebook! Also let us know your questions and any other comments, especially for the Very Special Episode coming up.

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!

Revealed! Book Club Choices for June 2015.

Before I get to the fun of recommending some good books to read for May, here’s a quick bit of book-self-promotion: Father’s Day is coming up on June 21. If you’re looking for a good gift for a father in your life, may I suggest…you guessed it…Better Than Before.

Most of us have habits that we want to make or break, and Better Than Before explains how to do that. Really!

If you’d like a signed bookplate to make the book more special, request it here (U.S. and Canada only, sorry, mailing costs). But request that soon, because I can be a little slow. Want more info? Excerpt here. Audio clip here. Discussion guides here.

Also, over the years I’ve noticed that many people give my biography Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill as a Father’s Day gift. Turns out I’m not the only one fascinated by Churchill.

Now enough about me and my books (!) — on to the fun part. Three terrific books for June.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness or habits

· one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

· one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

Shop at the wonderful Brooklyn indie WORD, BN.com, Amazon (I’m an affiliate of all three), or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness or habits:

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

The Good Master and The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy (yes, I cheated by listing two, but I couldn’t pick between the first book and the sequel)

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.

Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.

In any event, I assure you that, for all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think?

Lately, I’ve been doing some good reading on airplanes and in hotel rooms, while I’m on tour for Better Than Before.  I always over-pack both physical books and e-books when I travel, because I’m so afraid of having good reading time with nothing to read.

Happy June, and happy reading! So many good books…What’s on your summer reading list? Send me your recommendations! Though my library list already has 207 books listed.

What One Thing Is Most Important for Living One’s Entire Life in Happiness?

“Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.”


Agree, disagree?  How would you fill in the blank?

“Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of _________.”

For instance: faith; true love; meaningful work; peace of mind.