Gretchen Rubin-crop

How to Actually Create the Time for Something Important to You

Gretchen Rubin shares this today:

Of all the changes in my daily routine wrought by my happiness project, one of the most fundamental is that I get up at 6:00 a.m., every day. And I get up at 6:00 a.m. every day, even on weekends and vacation, because I love it. I get an hour to myself, at my computer, before my family wakes up for the day. It’s quiet, the light is dim, and the world feels very serene.

I love this time so much that I would get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m., but that would mean that I’d have to go to bed at 8:00 p.m., and I just can’t live life that way. I’m fuddy-duddy enough as it is.

From what I hear, one of the most common happiness challenges is lack of time for something important.

People want to exercise, work on a novel, meditate, or read for pleasure, and they just can’t fit it into their day. I absolutely know the feeling.

But here’s what I’ve noticed. For many people, the end of the day is a pleasant interlude of free time, when work is done, the office isn’t e-mailing, the kids are in bed, and the TV or internet is at hand. It’s pleasant, so it’s easy to stay up late to watch one more episode of The Wire or to read the most recent article about Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s break-up or to do back-to-school shopping or to research the works of J. M. Barrie. And then it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning.” Get the rest here: How to Actually Create the Time for Something Important to You « Positively Positive.

I didn’t realize how lazy I had gotten over the summer until last week when school started again. Because I could be so flexible I was scheduling my bike rides for before dinner but when school started again my schedule was shot. Last week I struggled with moving my bike ride to early morning because a big part of me would rather drink coffee and read news to wake up that get on the bike. Today I decided the right comes first; no ride no coffee. Now THAT’S serious!!! I got tell you though, I really enjoyed it! If you’re struggling with setting the important things into your life read the rest of Gretchen’s article and get intentional about your life. You might also find wisdom in the story of ‘The Mayonnaise Jar‘…

Find a "Comfort Food" for your mind

Gretchen Rubin writes…

One common happiness question is: How do you give yourself a boost? If you’re feeling anxious, blue, angry, scared, what can you do to soothe yourself?

A few days ago, I posted 5 myths for fighting the blues. Okay, those don’t work very well. So what does?

One suggestion: find a “comfort food” for your mind. Know what you can do with your brain that will give yourself a comforting break from your worries, at least for a little while. By doing so, you’ll re-charge your battery, find it easier to stay calm and cheerful, find it easier to take action to remedy your situation—and you’ll sleep better. But this is easier said than done.

We all suffer from “negativity bias,” that is, we react to the bad more strongly and persistently than to the comparable good. (What do you remember better, a compliment or a criticism?) Research shows one consequence of negativity bias is that when people’s thoughts wander, they tend to begin to brood. Anxious or angry thoughts capture our attention more effectively than happier thoughts.

So if you’re feeling blue, look for ways to pull your mind away from your worries onto positive topics…

Source: The Happiness Project: Find a “Comfort Food” for Your Mind.

Go to the source if you’d like to read the rest of Gretchen’s post…

The Quotability of Samuel Johnson

Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for He...

This is not Gretchen Rubin...

A tip of the hat to Gretchen Rubin for pointing me in the direction of Samuel Johnson with her Happiness Project quote du jour…

On this basis, my top five people who have featured most often in Quote … Unquote questions (as opposed to having just been quoted on the programme, which would be too big a task to measure) turn out to be: (1) Winston Churchill (2) Oscar Wilde (3) Noel Coward (4) Bernard Shaw (5) Mark Twain. No sign of Dr Johnson there, I’m afraid.
Then one of the readers of the Quote … Unquote Newsletter came along with his list of people who had featured most often in that Newsletter (and I have to emphasize that this was usually because of some issue regarding their quotations), and this gave a slightly different result, namely: Churchill (first), Wilde (second), Shaw and G.K. Chesterton (joint 4th), Mark Twain and P.G. Wodehouse (joint 6th). Samuel Johnson came 8th in that list.
Then, I counted up the number of quotations attributed to this sort of quotee (again I emphasize written and spoken quotees) in the latest editions of the two major dictionaries of quotations, the Oxford and Bartlett’s Familiar (in the United States). And what do you think I found?
In the Oxford, giving you the results in Miss World order, we have: in fifth place, Thomas Jefferson with 50 quotations, fourth, Winston Churchill with 53, third, Oscar Wilde with 61, second, a stonking 105 from Bernard Shaw, and in first place, with no fewer than 254, from Lichfield, England, Dr Samuel Johnson.
Turning to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and again giving you the results in reverse order, we find: in fifth place with 48 quotations, Oscar Wilde, in fourth place, a new entry, Abraham Lincoln with 51, in third place, with 61, Winston Churchill, shooting up the charts to No. 2, with 83 quotations, Mark Twain, and – I hardly need tell you – this week’s, this year’s No. 1, the top of the quotation pops for all time, with 142 quotations, your own, your very own, Samuel Johnson. Gratifyingly, however you measure it, it’s game, set and match to Dr Johnson.
The next question that must be addressed is, Why is Johnson the most all-round quoted source apart from the Bible and Shakespeare? If you define a quotation, as I will, as: ‘Something written or spoken by another that we wish to use for our own ends because it expresses something memorably and well’, then I need hardly go any further. Apart from the truths and wisdom that they contain, Dr Johnson’s quotations are so memorably phrased that they cry out to be repeated until the end of time.
Does a gentleman who marries a second time show disregard of his first wife? ‘Not at all, Sir. On the contrary, were he not to marry again, it might be concluded that his first wife had given a disgust to marriage; but by taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by shewing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.’
Johnson had a very positive view of marriage (though it is easily forgotten that he was himself a widower), hence his remark, ‘Even ill assorted marriages are preferable to cheerless celibacy’ – that’s in the Life – and ‘Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures’ – which is in Rasselas.
`If I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman’ – and then he adds: ‘But she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation.’
Then there is the famous piece of advice he gave Boswell, who was having landlord trouble and considered it a ‘serious distress’. Johnson told him: ‘There is nothing in this mighty misfortune … Consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence.’ Which, frankly, is the best piece of advice you can give anybody.

Source: The Quotability of Samuel Johnson

Go to the source if you’re curious to know more about this most quotable of all authors…

Are YOU the one that everyone finds difficult?

porcupine_CCDrew_AveryGretchen Rubin again. This time on the topic of being an a$$…

We all see the world through our own eyes, and it can be hard to recognize how our words and actions appear to other people. One of the challenges of being a difficult person is realizing that you’re a difficult person. I’ve known many difficult people who, I suspect, have no idea that others find them difficult!

In his excellent book The No A****** Rule (I’m omitting the title not from prudery but from fear of spam-blockers), and also on his blog, Work Matters, Bob Sutton has a quiz to help people recognize if they are a*******.

I was inspired to adapt that material for this quiz. As you answer these questions, be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t make excuses for yourself or other people; just try to answer accurately. These questions apply to family members gathering for a holiday, or to co-workers, or to any group of people who are trying to get along with each other.

Source: The Happiness Project: Quiz: Are YOU the One That Everyone Finds Difficult?

Go to the source if you want to read Gretchen’s quiz. Personally I was disappointed that she offers questions but no recommendations. Fortunately, one of her readers suggested this series of posts from writer Annie Zirkel. Annie says…

We come into contact with prickly people all the time. It might be a scowl, a frosty attitude or a touchy disposition. It might be the choice of words as in ‘What do you want?!’

Sometimes they serve us coffee. Sometimes they sit across from us at work or in committee meetings. Sometimes they live in our neighborhood or even worse! in our own homes.

And sometimes – more often then we’d like to admit – they are staring back at us in the mirror.

Source: How Prickly Are You? Part 1

Me? I often ponder why society secretly venerates a**holes like Steve Jobs, Gregory House of House, MD, and Cal Lightman from ‘Lie to me‘ and why they are a source of entertainment for us. Personally I’m a recovering assaholic [got that word from Steve Jobs’ biography] – deep inside I know I am warm, loving and caring but for reasons I often don’t understand even my best intentions are frequently taken the wrong way. And the results are far from entertaining. Because Gretchen’s quiz got me thinking I’ll be digging into Annie’s series for insight. Join me if you’d like. I’ll report back on what I find…

"How Do I Avoid Be Dragged Down By Difficult People?"

Gretchen Rubin has some good thoughts on the topic over at The Happiness Project

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…

Quiz: Are you a “Tigger” or an “Eeyore”?
Quiz: Are you the one that everyone finds difficult?
9 tips for dealing with difficult relatives.
Make people happier by acknowledging that they’re not feeling happy.

Source: The Happiness Project: “How Do I Avoid Be Dragged Down By Difficult People?”

Great use of video blogging as well, wouldn’t you say?

Do You Need A Happiness Boost?

The ‘bluebird of happiness’ Gretchen Rubin has some ideas for you!

Do you need a happiness boost—right now? If so, take a look at this menu of options and make your choices. Remember, the more you tackle, the bigger the boost you’ll receive.

When you’re feeling blue, it can be hard to muster up the physical and mental energy to do the things that make you happier. Plunking down in front of the TV or digging into a tub of ice cream seems like an easier fix. However, research shows that these aren’t the routes to feeling better.

Try some choices below. The more you push yourself, the better you’ll feel. If you can’t tackle a big task, just do something small. Even a little step in the right direction will give you a lift.

According to my groundbreaking happiness formula, to be happy, you need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth. What’s dragging you down? Is it a lack of fun, of connection? Do you feel a lot of guilt, boredom, or anger? Do you feel that something’s “not right” about your life? Do you feel stagnant or stuck? Focus your efforts on the choices that will do the most to address what’s not working in your life.

Source: Do You Need A Happiness Boost? [BLOG] « Positively Positive

Go to the source if you’d like to see her list…

Carl Jung’s five key elements to happiness

Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin has a good post this morning at The Happiness Project about Carl Jung and his perspective on happiness…

In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Jung, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung answered with five elements:

1. Good physical and mental health.
2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

Jung, always mindful of paradox, added, “All factors which are generally assumed to make for happiness can, under certain circumstances, produce the contrary. No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness.”

I did disagree strongly with Jung on one point. He said, “The more you deliberately seek happiness the more sure you are not to find it.” I know, Carl Jung vs. Gretchen Rubin, who is the authority? But though many great minds, such as John Stuart Mill, make the same point as Jung, I don’t agree.

For me, at least, the more mindful I am about happiness, the happier I become. Take Jung’s five factors. By deliberately seeking to strengthen those elements of my life, I make myself happier.

Source: The Happiness Project: Carl Jung’s Five Key Elements to Happiness.

If Gretchen can disagree with Jung, so can I. My issue? The list appears random – I think there’s a sequence to these 5 steps that is important. I would reorder the list like this;

  1. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.
  2. Good physical and mental health.
  3. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
  4. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
  5. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.

Maybe I had too much of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs but it seems to me that there are certain items in the list that need to build upon the other, in other words, 1 affects your ability to do 2-5.  How about you? What’s your take on Jung, Rubin, Maslow and me?

Open-mouthed smile

To Be Happier, Write Your Own Set of Personal Commandments

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

One of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. Recently, she shared her thoughts on having your own set of personal commandments…

One of the most challenging—and most helpful and fun—tasks that I’ve done as part of my Happiness Project is to write my Twelve Personal Commandments. These aren’t specific resolutions, like make my bed, but the overarching principles by which I try to live my life.

It took me several months to come up with this list, and it has been very useful for me to have them identified clearly in my mind. It’s a creative way of distilling core values.

To get you started as you think about your own commandments, here are my Twelve Commandments:

1. Be Gretchen.
2. Let it go.
3. Act the way I want to feel.
4. Do it now.
5. Be polite and be fair.
6. Enjoy the process.
7. Spend out. (This is probably the most enigmatic of my commandments.)
8. Identify the problem.
9. Lighten up.
10. Do what ought to be done.
11. No calculation.
12. There is only love.

So how do you come up with your own list?

Consider phrases that have stuck with you. When I look at my Twelve Commandments, I realize that five of them are actually quotations from other people. My father repeatedly reminds me to “Enjoy the process.” A respected boss told me to “Be polite and be fair.” A good friend told me that she’d decided that “There is only love” in her heart for a difficult person. “No calculation” is a paraphrase of my spiritual master St. Therese (“When one loves, one does not calculate”), and “Act the way I want to feel” is a paraphrase of William James.

Aim high and fight the urge to be too comprehensive.I’ve found that my commandments help me most when I review them at least daily, to keep them fresh in my mind, and to do this, it helps to keep the list short and snappy. I suspect that Twelve Commandments is too much. Maybe I only need two, “Be Gretchen” and “There is only love.”

Think about what’s true for you.Each person’s list will differ. One person’s commandment is to “Say yes,” another person’s commandment is to “Say no.” You need to think about yourself, your values, your strengths and weaknesses, your interests.

Source: The Happiness Project: To Be Happier, Write Your Own Set of Personal Commandments.

Is happiness an issue for you? You might benefit from Gretchen’s work. I have!

An Incomplete List Of Things To Do Daily, To Be Happy and Healthy

Gretchen RubinOne of my new favorite blogs is ‘The Happiness Project’ hosted by Gretchen Rubin. Yesterday she shared this…

I’ve just started trying to come up with a list of the bare minimum of things we should do every day to be happy and healthy.

This list doesn’t include major challenges, like “Quit smoking.” Obviously, quitting smoking is very important for health, but it’s not easy to add to a to-do list. This list doesn’t include items like “Spend less time on the internet” or “Read more” because they aren’t universal enough. This list also doesn’t include items related to attitude: gratitude, cheerfulness, and the like. These are very concrete, very essential things to do as part of the everyday routine.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…
Wear your seat belt
Take prescriptions medications properly
Go for a ten-minute walk (preferably outside)
Put your keys and wallet away in the same place
Take something with you (for instance, drop your dirty socks in the hamper on your way from your bedroom to the kitchen)
Charge your phone
Connect with someone close to you
Go to bed in time to get a good night’s sleep

As less crucial, but also highly advisable…
Make your bed
Kiss every member of your family
Sign the organ donor registry or tell your family you’d want to be a donor

What else would you add? I know I’m missing many items.

Source: The Happiness Project: An Incomplete List Of Things To Do Daily, To Be Happy and Healthy.

I’d suggest you add her site to Google Reader and follow her every day! But only if you want to be happy…