More Happier: Observance for Justice O’Connor, 5-Senses Portrait of KC Christmas, and Joy in First Drafts

Something Making Us (More) Happier

  • Elizabeth: She and Sarah finished the “first draft” of the novel they’re writing.
  • Gretchen: Eleanor is back home for a while.

Fun with the Five Senses

Inspired by my work for my book Life in Five Senses//, Elizabeth and I wrote a joint “Five-Senses Portrait of a Kansas City Christmas”—so fun to do!

Spotlight on a Tool

Check out my Five-Senses Journal.

I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You

Elizabeth asks me about the observances I attended in Washington, D.C., to honor Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Here are the photographs I mention:

[photo of me at the vigil, and photo of the justices in formal clothes]

Here’s the verse from sang “America the Beautiful” that moved me so deeply.

O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America, America!

God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law.

I wrote an article about my reflections when I heard the news that Justice O’Connor had died.


In 2018, when she announced her retirement from public life, Justice O’Connor reflected on her career and added this comment:

Not long after I retired from the Supreme Court twelve years ago, I made a commitment to myself, my family, and my country that I would use whatever years I had left to advance civic learning and engagement.

I feel so strongly about the topic because I’ve seen first-­hand how vital it is for all citizens to understand our Constitution and unique system of government, and participate actively in their communities. It is through this shared understanding of who we are that we can follow the approaches that have served us best over time – working collaboratively together in communities and in government to solve problems, putting country and the common good above party and self-­interest, and holding our key governmental institutions accountable.

Bonus quotation from the Justice:

Knowledge about the ideas embodied in the Constitution and the ways in which it shapes our lives is not passed down from generation to generation through the gene pool; it must be learned anew by each generation.




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

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.