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.

7 Things I Learned About Myself, from Getting a Dog.

barnabycloseup-300x342As I may have mentioned, my family and I just got a new puppy — a cockapoo named Barnaby. He’s fourteen weeks old, and super sweet and delightful.

However, he is a dog, and even more so, he’s a puppy. I knew that his arrival in our household would mean big changes — and would also teach me a lot about myself.

So far, here’s what I’ve learned: Continue reading

A Lesson in Happiness and Love I Learned from Rob Lowe

rob-lowe-300x150I’m not a particular fan (or not) of Rob Lowe, but several people had recommended his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so I decided to read it.

It was very interesting for many reasons, and I was particularly struck by a story Lowe told, recalling a visit to the White House during his time on the show The West Wing: Continue reading

Do You Text While Driving? Why You Shouldn’t — and How to Stop.

iphone-driving_2891450b-300x187Guess: What’s one habit that’s very common and extremely dangerous?

Yes, of course, smoking. But what else?

Using your smart phone while driving is a terrible habit. So common, so dangerous. About one quarter of car accidents involve the use of a smart phone.

It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just glance at the screen,” but it takes a minimum of five seconds to take a look, and if you’re going 55 mph, you’ll go the length of a football field in that time.

And it turns out that just reaching for the device raises the chance of an accident.

Probably, most of us know that using a phone while driving is a bad idea. And yet we’re in that habit. So how to stop? Continue reading

Agree, Disagree? September is the Other January. Time for a New Start.

HappierAtHomePaperback1-300x462Even though I haven’t been in school for a long time, for me, September  marks the beginning of a new year.  Orange is the new black, breakfast is the new lunch, Monday is the new Thursday, pork is the other white meat, and September is the other January. (And yes, it’s still September, even though most schools start in August nowadays — and of course, this is true only in certain parts of the world.)

January is the official start of the new year, and I always get a burst of renewed zeal at that time, but here in the United States, for me, September also gives the same feeling of an empty calendar and a clean slate. The air seems charged with possibility and renewal.

Back-to-school is a time of self-evaluation and reflection–and also a time when I feel the urge to clean out my office.

Because of the new year feeling of September, when I wanted to do a a happier-at-home project, I decided to start it in September. Continue reading

Agree, Disagree? Outer Order Contributes to Inner Calm.

OuterOrderSecondVersion_124913-300x382From Further Secrets of AdulthoodOuter order contributes to inner calm.

Agree, disagree?

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. Continue reading

How Do You Feel About Gifts? A List of Questions.

ElizabethTreadmillDeskTheFamily-150x150People often ask, “What’s the key to happiness?”

I think that question can be answered in a few different ways, depending on the framework used to approach the question.

For instance, one answer is: self-knowledge. As the Fifth Splendid Truth holds, we can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own interests, our own values. Continue reading

What Did Flannery O’Connor Pray For?

flannery home .jpgOften when I read, I’m struck by something, but I’m not sure why.

I’ve read The Habit of Being several times — it’s a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s extraordinary letters. O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, but I can hardly bear to read her fiction; it makes my head explode.

On July 1, 1964, O’Connor (who was a devout Catholic) wrote to Janet McKane:

Do you know anything about St. Raphael besides his being an archangel? He leads you to the people you are supposed to meet…It’s a prayer I’ve said every day for many years.

A week later, she wrote McKane a follow-up letter, with the prayer, which reads in part: Continue reading

A Memoir and a List of Loopholes Used to Justify Drinking

wineinparis-300x225Because of my interest in habits, I read a lot of memoirs of addiction. I don’t tackle addiction in Better Than Before, but still, I find that I get a lot of insights from these accounts.

I recently finished an excellent new memoir, Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.

I was particularly  interested to see how she used loopholes to justify her drinking.

When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.

We’re so good at thinking of loopholes! I’ve identified ten categories, in fact, and Hepola uses several of them as she justifies her drinking to herself. Continue reading

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

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