All posts by Gretchen Rubin

About Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. Gretchen has emerged as one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain, and that used rightly, money can do a lot to buy happiness—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds.

Secret of Adulthood: If We’re Too Tired to Do Anything Except TV or Internet, Go to Sleep

IfYoureTooTiredToDoAnythingTVInternet_124902-300x382From Further Secrets of Adulthood: If we’re too tired to do anything except watch TV or cruise the internet, go to sleep.

Agree, disagree?

I have to admit, I struggle sometimes to remember this Secret of Adulthood.  I don’t have trouble getting off the internet, but sometimes I watch TV because I feel too tired to read. Continue reading

Why We Shouldn’t Reward Ourselves for Good Habits–With One Exception.

carrotasreward5 reasons why rewards can be very dangerous for habit-formation.

Of the 21 strategies that I identify, that we can use to make or break our habits, the Strategy of Reward was one of the most difficult for me to understand.

In large part, because the lesson is: be very wary of using rewards to master habits!

Why? It sounds so sensible to reward yourself for sticking to a good habit. But it turns out that rewards are very, very tricky to use well.

Why? Continue reading

Secret of Adulthood: Sometimes, You Have to Work Hard to Be Lazy.

SometimesWorkHardtoBeLazy_124896-300x382From Further Secrets of Adulthood.

I feel this way often. I need to schedule time to be unscheduled, I need to force myself to wander, I have to reassure myself that staring into space is as useful as staring into my laptop.

I guess the idea isn’t so much “laziness” as ”leisureliness.” Continue reading

Something Becomes Important Because We’re Paying Attention.

dance_to_the_music_of_time_c__1640-300x237I take giant amounts of notes, and I’m constantly copying passages from books that I read. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also one of my favorite things to do.

Oddly, I’ll often take notes, or copy passages, where the meaning isn’t clear to me. Sometimes it takes me years (if ever) to understand the meaning of something that I knew was significant, but didn’t know why. And then, when I grasp it — so thrilling! Nothing makes me happier. Continue reading

Portrait of an Obliger: William Shawn, Legendary Editor of The New Yorker

rossshawn-300x232Of all the insights and observations that I make about the nature of habits and human nature in Better Than Before (at least I hope I make them), I’m most proud of my Four Tendencies framework.

It was very, very hard to grasp this pattern in human character, but I have to say, now that I’ve identified it, I constantly see it on display in the world.  Those four categories (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel) do capture something–something that strikes me as truly real. (Want to find out your Tendency? 65,000 people have taken this Quiz.)

I’m always trying to understand the Four Tendencies better, and looking for examples, and evidence comes to me when I least expect it. Continue reading

What’s Your Favorite Quote About Coming Home?

LittleHousecover-300x433When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, “This is now.”

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

– Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods (last paragraphs)

This is one of my favorite passages in all of literature. I think of it often, especially when I come home after a trip. “This is now.Continue reading

Are You Unnecessarily Severe with Yourself and Your Habits?

coffeepouring-300x169“All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.

– Samuel Johnson, as quoted in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

I often think about this remark by Samuel Johnson.

Because I’ve been so focused on habits over the past few years, during the writing of Better Than Before, people often talk to me about the habits they want to change.

And although I have so many strategies and ideas that I’ve identified to help people master their habits, to my surprise, I frequently find myself making the case against changing a habit. Continue reading

To Be Creative, What Are the Best Habits To Follow?

paintbrushwithcolors1-300x239This post is back by popular demand, because when I tell people that I’ve been working on Better Than Before, my book about habit change, one of the questions that people most often ask me is:“What habits are best for creativity?”They want to know what habits help people think creatively — and also, actually produce.

Often, people make the case for adopting a particular habit by pointing to a renowned figure who practiced that habit, with great success. For instance… Continue reading

Holiday Food Temptation? Try These 13 Tips

holidayknifeandfork-300x300I think a lot about habits, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about habits related to holiday eating.

The holidays are supposed to be a festive time, but many people feel anxiety and regret around food and drink—the holiday season is so full of temptation.

I have to say, I enjoy the holidays much more, now that I’ve got a better grip on my habits, than I used to.

Here are some ways to apply the strategies of habit-change to this challenge: Continue reading

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