Gretchen Rubin

(Gretchen Craft Rubin)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A person with 'oppositional conversational style' is a person who, in conversation, disagrees with and corrects whatever you say. He or she may do this in a friendly way, or a belligerent way, but this person frames remarks in opposition to whatever you venture.
A series of small but real accomplishments gives people the energy and confidence to continue. For instance, a person who wants to write a novel might resolve to write one sentence each day. Or a person who wants to start running might resolve to run for one minute.
A 'treat' is different from a 'reward,' which must be justified or earned. A treat is a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it. Treats give us greater vitality, which boosts self-control, which helps us maintain our healthy habits.
Accept yourself and expect more from yourself.
Although we often assume that feelings inspire actions, in fact, actions also inspire feelings. By pushing myself to act happier, I make myself feel happier.
An enormous amount of ingenuity and creativity goes into commercials, and they can be fascinating if you pay attention.
As goofy as it sounds, I try to sing in the morning. It's hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone - particularly in my case, because I'm tone deaf, and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity. Morning
Being taken for granted is an unpleasant but sincere form of praise. Ironically, the more reliable you are, and the less you complain, the more likely you are to be taken for granted.
Children's literature is one of my joys, and it's also my mental comfort food. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Do I need fifty finger-painted pictures by my toddler, or is one enough to capture this time of life? Mementos work best when they're carefully chosen - and when they don't take up much room! Life ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Don't keep excessive amounts of anything. Those glass vases that come from florists. Those ketchup packets that come with take-out food. A house with two adults probably doesn't need fifteen mismatched souvenir coffee cups. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.
Don't let yourself fall into 'empty.' Keep cash in the house. Keep gas in your tank. Keep an extra roll of toilet paper squirreled away. Keep your phone charged.
During my study of happiness, I noticed something that surprised me: I often learn more from one person's highly idiosyncratic experiences than I do from sources that detail universal principles or cite up-to-date studies. Happiness & Unhappiness
Each week, I post a video about some 'Pigeon of Discontent' raised by a reader. Because, as much as we try to find the 'Bluebird of Happiness,' we're also plagued by those small but pesky 'Pigeons of Discontent.' Happiness & Unhappiness
Embrace good smells. No cost, no calories, no energy, no time - a quick hit of pleasure. Time
Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.
For notes related to books I'm writing, I've wondered whether I should organize my notes better, but I do find that the action or scrolling through them and seeing odd juxtapositions of ideas helps to stimulate my own ideas and creativity. I worry that if I kept the notes in a highly-structured way, I might lose some of these benefits.
For one person, organized files might be a crucial tool for creativity; another person finds inspiration in random juxtapositions.
For quotes, I have one document for general quotes; the other for happiness-related quotes, which I use for the 'Moment of Happiness,' my daily emails of happiness quotes. Happiness & Unhappiness
Getting paperwork under control makes me feel more in control of my life generally. Life
Give warm greetings and farewells. I was surprised by how much this resolution changed the atmosphere of my home.
Growing up in Kansas City, I was always neat, the teacher's pet, know-it-all type. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Habit allows us to go from 'before' to 'after,' to make life easier and better. Habit is notorious - and rightly so - for its ability to direct our actions, even against our will; but by mindfully shaping our habits, we can harness the power of mindlessness as a sweeping force for serenity, energy, and growth. Life ;Power
Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness. In one of those life-isn't-fair results, it turns out that the happy outperform the less happy. Happy people work more hours each week - and they work more in their free time, too. Time ;Happiness & Unhappiness ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I always feel calmer when I exercise. In fact, that's probably the main reason I exercise.
I collect axioms, paradoxes, maxims, teaching stories, proverbs, and aphorisms of all sorts, because I love to see complex ideas distilled into a few words. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I do better with routines and predictability. I don't react well when there's a sudden change in the schedule.
I embrace treats, but I'm also very wary of treats. Treats help us feel energized, appreciated, and enthusiastic - but very often, the things we choose as 'treats' aren't good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day.
I get such a buzz out of cleaning closets.
I have a lucky perfume. I love beautiful smells, but I save one of my favorite perfumes to wear only when I feel like I need some extra luck. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I have a terrible memory of my own past. I can barely remember my childhood. I have few memories from college and law school - though once I got married, I got the advantage of being able to consult my husband's memory.
I love cunning containers as much as anyone, but I've found that if I get rid of everything I don't need, I often don't need a container at all. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I love finding - or inventing - ways to categorize people. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I love taxonomies, categories, ways of dividing people into groups. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I read a lot, all the time, but often I read books for research, or because they're interesting to me in some way, even if they aren't exactly 'pleasurable.' Time
I really work on paying attention to the clues my self is giving myself. For instance, I think of myself in the third person. That allows me to manage myself better. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I'd always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations. One day, I'd stop twisting my hair, and wearing running shoes all the time, and eating exactly the same food every day. I'd remember my friends' birthdays, I'd learn Photoshop, I wouldn't let my daughter watch TV during breakfast. I'd read Shakespeare. Time ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
If I can do something in less than one minute, I don't let myself procrastinate. I hang up my coat, put newspapers in the recycling, scan and toss a letter. Ever since I wrote about this rule in 'The Happiness Project,' I've been amazed by how many people have told me that it has made a huge difference in their lives. Happiness & Unhappiness
If you want someone else to do a task, don't do it yourself.
If you'd like to watch less television, try putting the remote away in a very inconvenient place and making yourself put it away every time you use it. If it's a big pain to turn on the TV and to change channels, you might find yourself drifting to other activities that will be more satisfying in the long run. Time
If you're impatient while waiting for the bus, tell yourself you're doing 'Bus waiting meditation.' If you're standing in a slow line at the drugstore, you're doing 'Waiting in line meditation.' Just saying these words makes me feel very spiritual and high-minded and wise.
If you've had something for more than six months, and it's still not repaired, it's clutter.
I'm a compulsive note-taker, and I used to feel self-conscious about pulling out my little notebook and taking notes during a casual conversation. Then I noticed that people really seemed to enjoy it; the fact that I was taking notes made their remarks seem particularly insightful or valuable. Now I don't hold myself back.
I'm always trying to figure out ways to keep hold of memories. My one-sentence journal, for instance.
I'm constantly on the hunt for insights about happiness or ideas about how to be happier - which probably makes me a somewhat tiresome companion at times. Happiness & Unhappiness
I'm much calmer when there's no TV or music playing in the background. Music, Chants & Rapps
In 'Before and After,' I identify the sixteen strategies that we can use to make or break our habits. Some are quite familiar, such as 'Monitoring,' 'Scheduling,' and 'Convenience.' Some took me a lot of effort to identify, such as 'Thinking,' 'Identity,' and 'Clarity.'
In 'Happier at Home,' I write a lot about my struggle to create an unhurried atmosphere at home.
In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find - and I hear from other people that they agree - that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
It was my interest in happiness that led me to the subject of habits, and of course, the study of habits is really the study of happiness. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
It's easier to get rid of things when you're giving them to someone who can use them, but don't let this kind intention become a source of clutter itself. I have a friend who has multiple piles all over her house, each lovingly destined for a particular recipient.
It's hard to avoid 'unconscious overclaiming.' In unconscious overclaiming, we unconsciously overestimate our contributions relative to others. This makes sense, because we're far more aware of what we do than what other people do. Also, we tend to do the work that we value. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It's so easy to use tired, shopworn figures of speech. I love using long, fancy words but have learned - mostly from writing my biography of Winston Churchill - that short, strong words work better. I am ever-vigilant against the passive and against jargon, both of which are so insidious. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I've always loved 'Before and After' stories, in books, magazines, and TV shows. Whenever I read those words, I'm hooked. The thought of a transformation - any kind of transformation - thrills me. And that's the promise of habits.
I've found that I snack less and concentrate better when I chew on a plastic stirrer - the kind that you get to stir your to-go coffee. I picked up this habit from my husband, who loves to chew on things. His favorite chew-toy is a plastic pen top, and gnawed pen tops and little bits of plastic litter our apartment.
Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having just one of two may still leave you feeling lonely.
Keeping a habit, in the smallest way, protects and strengthens it. I write every day, even if it's just a sentence, to keep my habit of daily writing strong.
Kennedy was president for only 1,037 days, but during his short tenure, he achieved much. At the Cold War's most dangerous hour, he preserved the peace. He improved relations with the Soviet Union and replaced tension over Berlin with a limited test ban treaty. War & Peace
Like most people, I have several pet subjects - that may or may not be interesting to other people. Don't get me started on happiness, or habits, or children's literature, or Winston Churchill, unless you really want to talk about it. Happiness & Unhappiness
Many people keep photos in their homes, in their office, or in their wallet, and happy families tend to display large numbers of photos at home. In 'Happier at Home,' I write about my 'shrine to my family' made of photographs. Families, Children & Parenting
Most decisions don't require extensive research.
Most people enjoy 'potato-chip news' from time to time - to track a presidential election or the Oscars. However, some are particularly drawn to material that makes them feel shocked, frightened, insecure, or indignant, and that's what potato-chip news often provides. Time
My writing tends to become very dense, so I have to keep some cushion. Sometimes, words that seem superfluous are actually essential for the overall effect.
Nature is impersonal, awe-inspiring, elegant, eternal. It's geometrically perfect. It's tiny and gigantic. You can travel far to be in a beautiful natural setting, or you can observe it in your backyard - or, in my case, in the trees lining New York City sidewalks, or in the clouds above skyscrapers. Nature ;Travel
Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they're big, flashing signs that something needs to change. Life
Never label anything 'Miscellaneous.'
No leader did more for his country than Winston Churchill. Brave, magnanimous, traditional, he was like a king-general from Britain's heroic past. His gigantic qualities set him apart from ordinary humanity; there seemed no danger he feared, no effort too great for his limitless energies.
Now, the term 'friend' is a little loose. People mock the 'friending' on social media, and say, 'Gosh, no one could have 300 friends!' Well, there are all kinds of friends. Those kinds of 'friends,' and work friends, and childhood friends, and dear friends, and neighborhood friends, and we-walk-our-dogs-at-the-same-time friends, etc. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Often, if there's something that I want to do, but somehow can't get myself to do, it's because I don't have clarity. This lack of clarity often arises from a feeling of ambivalence - I want to do something, but I don't want to do it; or I want one thing, but I also want something else that conflicts with it.
Often, the more reliably you perform a task, the less likely it is for someone to notice that you're doing it and to feel grateful and to feel any impulse to help or to take a turn.
One major challenge within happiness is loneliness. The more I've learned about happiness, the more I've come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider. Happiness & Unhappiness
One of my key realizations about happiness, and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists, given its emphasis in popular culture, is that outer order contributes to inner calm. More than it should. Happiness & Unhappiness
One of my most important 'Secrets of Adulthood': Outer order contributes to inner calm.
One of my 'Secrets of Adulthood' is: Somewhere, keep an empty shelf. I know where my empty shelf is, and I treasure it.
One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good.
One of the most important elements of my identity is my identity as a reader. I love to read - really, if I'm honest with myself, it's practically the only activity that I truly love to do. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
One thing I wish I could tell my younger self: take photos of everyday life, not special occasions; later, that's what will be interesting to you. Life
One thing that makes me very happy is to have a complicated idea and to feel that I've expressed myself clearly. I remember writing the ending to 'Happier at Home.' I wrote the entire book to build to that ending 'now is now,' and what I had to say was very abstract, and yet I felt satisfied that I managed to say what I wanted to say.
People are powerfully moved by imagination, belief, and knowledge. They can consider the past and future. They can make changes in their behavior out of reason in a way that animals can't do. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Future
People often assume that the same approach will work for everyone, that the same habits will work for everyone, and that everyone has the same aptitude and appetite for forming habits, but from my observation, that's not true. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
'Potato-chip news' is news that's repetitive, requires little effort to absorb, and is consumable in massive quantities: true crime, natural disasters, political punditry, celebrity gossip, sports gossip, or endless photographs of beautiful houses, food, or clothes. Sports & Athletics ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Putting myself into categories is fun, and I think it also gives me insight into my own nature. When I see myself more clearly, I can more easily see ways that I might do things differently, to make myself happier. Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse. Nature
Remember that although the distinction can be difficult to draw, loneliness and solitude are different.
Skillful conversationalists can explore disagreements and make points in ways that feel constructive and positive rather than combative or corrective.
Some kind of clutter is difficult - letting go of things with sentimental value, sifting through papers - but some clutter I find very refreshing to clear. I drive my daughters nuts because I'm always wandering into their rooms to clear clutter.
Sometimes, counter-intuitively, it's easier to make a major change than a minor change. When a habit is changing very gradually, we may lose interest, give way under stress, or dismiss the change as insignificant. There's an excitement and an energy that comes from a big transformation, and that helps to create a habit.
Spending hours stressed out in front of the TV isn't the same as volunteering or donating. Feeling a high level of personal distress makes people feel agitated and emotionally drained, to the point that they lack the energy or detachment to help - or the energy to manage themselves.
Superstition is the irrational belief that an object or behavior has the power to influence an outcome, when there's no logical connection between them. Most of us aren't superstitious - but most of us are a 'littlestitious.' Power
Take care of difficult calls or emails as quickly as possible. Procrastinating just makes it harder; getting them done gives a big boost of relieved energy.
Take the perspective of a journalist or scientist. Really study what's around you. What are people wearing, what do the interiors of buildings look like, what noises do you hear? If you bring your analytical powers to bear, you can make almost anything interesting.
The biggest waste of time is to do well something that we need not do at all. Time
The days are long, but the years are short.
The more I examine the issue of clutter, the more effort I put into combating it, because it really does act as a weight.
They say that people teach what they need to learn. By adopting the role of happiness teacher, if only for myself, I was trying to find the method to conquer my particular faults and limitations. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Try to never say 'yes' on the phone; instead, say, 'I'll get back to you.' When you're actually speaking to someone, the desire to be accommodating is very strong, and can lead you to say 'yes' without enough consideration.
Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Watching TV is companionable: you share an experience, you can comment on the action here and there for a bit of conversation... it's a way of showing someone that you want his or her company and engaging in a low-key, pleasant, undemanding way.
We all want to get along well with other people, and one way to do this is to help people feel good about themselves. If you make a person feel smart and insightful, that person will enjoy your company.
We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, then - and this is the best part - we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. At that point, we're free from the need to decide and the need to use willpower. Power
We need to have intimate, enduring bonds; we need to be able to confide; we need to feel that we belong; we need to be able to get support, and just as important for happiness, to give support. We need many kinds of relationships; for one thing, we need friends. Happiness & Unhappiness
When accepting a responsibility, imagine that it's something that you'll have to do next week. That way you don't agree to something just because it seems so far off that it doesn't seem onerous.
When I became obsessed with Winston Churchill, I wrote a book about Churchill. What a joy it was to write that book!
When Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's government fell in May 1940, the nation turned to Churchill. At last, his unique qualities were brought to bear on a supreme challenge, and with his unshakable optimism, his heroic vision, and above all, his splendid speeches, Churchill roused the spirit of the British people. Government
When we don't get any treats, we feel depleted, resentful, and angry, and we feel justified in self-indulgence. We start to crave comfort - and grab that comfort wherever we can, even if it means breaking good habits.
When we're trying to form and keep habits, we often search - even unconsciously - for loopholes. We look for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation.
When you're doing a job that benefits other people, it's easy to assume that they feel conscious of the fact that you're doing this work - that they should feel grateful, and that they should and do feel guilty about not helping you. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Whenever I start a new book, I think, 'This is the most interesting subject of all time. It's sad, I'll never enjoy writing another book as much as I enjoy this one.' Every time, I'm convinced. And then I change my mind when I start the next book. Time
Whenever I'm trying to decide how to spend my precious time, energy, or money, I ask myself a series of questions. 'Will this broaden or deepen my relationships?' 'Will this contribute to an atmosphere of growth in my life?' 'Is this a way to 'Be Gretchen?' and 'Will this help connect me to my past?' Life ;Time ;Money, Coins & Minting
While television is a good servant, it's a bad master. It can swallow up huge quantities of our lives without much happiness bang for the buck. Happiness & Unhappiness
Work done by other people sounds easy. How hard can it be to take care of a newborn who sleeps 20 hours a day? How hard can it be to keep track of your billable hours? To travel for one night for business? To get a 4-year-old ready for school? To return a few phone calls? To load the dishwasher? To fill out some forms? Travel ;Business, Commerce & Finance ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.
You can love someone but not want to keep a gift from that person. It's okay to pass an item along to someone who will appreciate it more. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex