I have a lot of travel coming up this summer—a big trip, multiple reunion weekends (my research into happiness has increased my commitment to attending reunions), a visit to my hometown of Kansas City—so I’ve been reviewing the lists of travel hacks I’ve put together over the years. As with so much good advice, it’s one thing to identify hacks, but then I have to remember to follow them. The one hack I never forget? Pack snacks. I really dislike being hungry, and as a low-carb person, I can find myself in a place with limited snack options, so I always travel with a surprising amount of almonds.


Gretchen Rubin

5 Things Making Me Happy​

It always makes me happy when a longstanding mystery is solved. Whether a horse lifts all four feet in the air during parts of its stride. The identity of Deep Throat. The reason for the movement of the “sailing stones” of Death Valley. And now researchers think they know why Beethoven lost his hearing—lead poisoning, likely from wine.

From Scarlett Thomas’s new novel The Sleepwalkers, I learned two terrific new words. Now my challenge is to find ways to use them properly myself.

1. Proleptic: “involving or characterized by prolepsis: an anticipation; esp., the describing of an event as taking place before it could have done so, the treating of a future event as if it had already happened.” From Thomas: “It was oddly proleptic, hearing that song then, because in fact it’s all I can hear in my head as I write this letter.”

2. Kayfabe: “(in professional wrestling) the fact or convention of presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic.”  From Thomas: “’You’re not meant to wake sleepwalkers,’ I said, breaking kayfabe for a moment.”

I love color, and I love things that are pleasant to the touch, so I was delighted to discover @smashingpencils on Instagram. The little videos show two colors being mixed, with a very satisfying tactile vibe—even through a screen.

In one of my favorite aphorisms, Oscar Wilde wrote, “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.” I thought of this observation when I learned that although the Irish enchanted island of Hy-Brasil never actually existed, for hundreds of years it appeared on maps—as recently as 1873. (No relation to the country of Brazil.)

People often ask me if audiobooks “count” as reading. My answer? Of course! Not only do they “count,” audiobooks allow us to enjoy a book in situations where we couldn’t read a physical book, and we can pair listening to books with other habits, tasks, or activities. Plus, they don’t weigh down your suitcase when you’re traveling. As for me, however, I can’t track a book in audio unless I’ve already read it in print. I love to re-read, so I often listen to a beloved book that I want to revisit. I recently re-read/listened to Susanna Clark’s Piranesi.


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This week on Happier with Gretchen Rubin


We discuss why you might decide to train for a tough transition—perhaps for an entire year. We also revisit a listener’s response from years ago that listeners continue to comment on; it’s an idea that has deeply resonated with people. Plus we suggest an excellent hack for storing collections of stuffed animals.

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Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.