Podcast 24: Take Photos of Everyday Life, the Tension that Exists in Love–and Should I Get a Dog?

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

BlankeeElizabethUpdate: After episode 17, listeners got in touch to tell us about the things that they call their preciousssss. Fascinating. And do you have a beloved toy — or other artifact — that you still treasure from childhood? Here’s Elizabeth’s Blankey (I confirmed the spelling).

Try This at Home: Take photos of everyday life. Never forget how easy it is to forget.

Assay: Elizabeth and I discuss a story that singer-songwriter-author Rosanne Cash told us about working with her husband, in episode 22. It really resonated with us, because it captures an important tension that exists within loving relationships: “You’re awesome just the way you are” vs. “You can do better.” (By the way, our producer Henry did give me notes at the end of the episode! Which I really do appreciate–his job is to push us harder.)

Listener Question: “My family has moved to a new city. We loved the city where we were living, but how do we make sure we’re as happy in our new city as we were in our old city?” (I can’t resist including a link to my book, Happier at Home, which is all about — you guessed it — how to be happier at home.)

BlackJackCatGretchen’s Demerit: My daughters really want a dog, but I’m not sure I want a dog. Listeners, should we get a dog?

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: She’s a good sister and talks to me at length about the dog issue. (Here’s a photo of Elizabeth’s cat Blackjack.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors.  Want to avoid post-office pain, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also, check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you. Especially if you have any ideas about whether my family should get a dog!

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

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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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HAPPIER listening!

Secrets of Adulthood: “__ Is a Good Servant But a Bad Master.” Fill in the Blank.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: “_____ is a good servant but a bad master.”

What else would you suggest?

Habits, certainly.




How would you fill in that blank?



5 Reasons Why Going to a Podcasting Conference Made Me Happier.

This weekend, my sister Elizabeth and I went to the Podcast Movement conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Now that we’re doing our weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin,  how better to embrace our podcaster identity than to go to a conference?

We had a great time, and it made me happier, for several reasons.

1.  Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: relationships make people happy, so anything that widens our relationships tends to boost happiness. Elizabeth and I met a bunch of fun new people this weekend.

2. Likewise, anything that deepens relationships tends to boost our happiness. Having a fun sisterly weekend adventure brought me closer to Elizabeth, and we also got to spend time with the terrific Panoply team.

3. As the First Splendid Truth of Happiness explains, a key element of a happy life is a sense of growth — of learning, of fixing something, of helping someone, of creating something, of improving something. I learned a tremendous amount during the weekend, so I got the sense of growth.

4. Novelty and challenge boost happiness. This is hard for me to remember — I’m naturally attracted to familiarity and mastery, and I really have to talk myself into doing new things. But even for a creature of habit like me, novelty does boost happiness. I was really energized by the new experience.

5. We’re happier when we have many sides to our identity. Maybe you get fired, and that’s a blow to your identity,  but you think, “Everyone in the PTA likes and respects me.” That’s comforting. Professionally, I’m a “writer”: when I became a “blogger,” I got a big happiness boost, and now becoming a “podcaster” is giving me another boost.

Bonus happiness boost: Elizabeth made t-shirts with our “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” logo. Corny but fun.

Working on my three books about happiness — The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before — has really helped me to analyze a situation according to its likely happiness effect. In the past, I might’ve thought, “Nah, why go to the conference? All that bother and expense and inconvenience, for such a short trip.” Now I look at that kind of decision in a very different way.

How about you? When you’re deciding whether or not to do something, do you explicitly consider the effect it will have on your happiness?

My College Roommate Sent Me a Sketch of Myself–What a Memory.

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is: “Always remember how easy it is to forget.”

I’ve tried a lot of things — keeping a one-sentence journal, taking tourist photos of my own romance — to help hang on to memories.

It’s funny, though, what can unleash a memory. A smell, for instance, can invoke memories very powerfully.

I had a rush of memory when Rebecca Lemov, one of my college roommates, emailed me this sketch. While looking through her dusty sketchbooks, she found this drawing of me. She also sent a photo of a note that I wrote to her around that time. (My handwriting hasn’t changed.)

Seeing the sketch brought back…such a feeling of college. I can’t even quite describe it. The atmosphere of that time of life. It was acute.

Have you ever come across an artifact like this, that brought back a flood of memories?

Revealed! Book Club Choices for August 2015.

Pardon this moment of book self-promotion: I was very happy that the Washington Post included Better Than Before in its terrific list, A summer reading list that will help you professionally. Many great ideas for reading. (Want to know more about Better Than Before? Excerpt here. Audio clip here. Discussion guides here.)

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

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 IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness or habits:

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Buy from IndieBound; 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?

Happy August, and happy reading!