Hello from beautiful Kyoto! I’m in the middle of my trip (which has also included Toyko, Kamakura, and Hakone) and am so caught up in the five-senses intensity of the experience that I haven’t yet reflected on it. But one small, quick observation: I’ve always loved bamboo, and spending time in a few bamboo groves and visiting a bamboo museum has given me a much deeper appreciation for its exceptional beauty and usefulness. Interesting: The sound of rustling bamboo in Arashiyama’s Sagano Bamboo Grove is listed as one of the “100 Soundscapes of Japan.” 


Gretchen Rubin

5 Things Making Me Happy​

July 2nd is “Halfway Day,” the minor holiday from my “Calendar of Catalysts” that marks the halfway point through the year and offers an opportunity to reflect on our aims. Through July 9th, the Explore tab in the Happier™ app will feature a special Halfway Day Check-In section with prompts designed to help you review the first half of the year and plan ahead for the next six months.

My whole life, I’ve loved any scratch-n-sniff opportunity, so I was delighted to hear that France has released baguette-scented scratch-and-sniff stamps. How am I going to get my hands on some of these stamps? In 2018, the United States released ice-pop-scented stamps—so fun.

In my study of the sense of hearing for my book Life in Five Senses, I learned that I wasn’t alone in my dislike for noisy restaurants—turns out, noise level is one of diners’ most common complaints. I was very interested in this recent article about the science of loud restaurants. Some notable points:

  • We may be feeling more sensitive to sound these days, because during the pandemic, we became more accustomed to quiet environments.
  • Concert halls design chairs to absorb the same amount of sounds as a human body, so people hear the same thing no matter how full the hall is.
  • Alcohol blunts our hearing, which is why drunk people talk louder.
  • People drink more and eat faster in noisy environments.
  • In the “Lombard effect,” people talk louder in a noisy place, which then makes that place noisier.
The interactive article also includes recordings of restaurant sounds and illustrations of how sound waves work. 

My friend, the brilliant author Susan Cain, has created a digital community called “A Quiet Life.” In her weekly “Kindred Letters,” she shares her insights on topics such as happiness, art, creativity, nature, the senses, and wellbeing—from a transcendent perspective. Her weekly email always gets me thinking. For instance, in the recent newsletter “And Yet the Books,” she included a poem from one of her favorite poets, Constantine Cavafy, which prompted me to go re-read his poem “Ithaka.”

Happy ninth birthday to our dog, Barnaby! When we were trying to decide whether to get a dog, my daughters were begging for a dog and my husband Jamie was willing. I couldn’t decide whether it was a good idea or not. Then I thought, “Choose the bigger life.” The bigger life for my family was to get a dog—and, indeed, we’ve been so happy with Barnaby.


Healthy hydration isn’t just about drinking water.

You lose both water and sodium when you sweat. LMNT is your source for a clean electrolyte boost after a long day or intense workout. Enjoy a FREE sample pack of eight flavors today with any drink mix purchase, plus a money-back satisfaction guarantee.

This week on Happier with Gretchen Rubin


July 2 is Halfway Day, and we use that date to remind us to reflect on our “24 for 24” list and to decide how to tackle the (many) unfinished items. Plus we discuss #Write24in24 and our one-word themes for 2024.

Listen now >

Listen to the Happier podcast?
Click here to read the show notes.

You signed up to receive this newsletter at gretchenrubin.com

{{ organization.name }} {{ organization.full_address }}

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

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.