Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

Author of NYT bestsellers Better Than Before, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 16, 2015

Discussion

Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
Hi, everyone! I’m Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before,” “The Happiness Project,” and several other books. Just about every day, I report on my adventures in pursuit of happiness and good habits on my blog, gretchenrubin.com, and I also have a podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” with my sister, Elizabeth Craft. I’m from Kansas City, live in NYC, am left-handed, red-haired, and drink gallons of caffeine every day. Ask me anything!
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
Okay, everyone, thanks for being here today! Such thought-provoking questions. Onward and upward!
David Huynh
David Huynh@dhh83 · Co-Founder, SayMore
@gretchenrubin. Can you share your thoughts on staying "connected" with friends? Specifically, I'm curious to learn about your thoughts around talking versus texting/emailing and how this may (guessing it clearly does) or may not lead towards a more happier and fulfilling life.
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@dhh83 Nothing can replace face-to-face, that's clear. We need to make room for that in our lives. But friendship takes time and energy, so I'm a fan of technology that makes it easier to stay connected. Like many things (ambition, money, habits, caffeine), technology is a good servant but a bad master. We need to make sure that it's helping us stay connected, when we might otherwise struggle (e.g., keeping in touch with a friend who moves frequently) but make sure it's not replacing higher forms of connection.
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
My next book will be about the Four Tendencies. I'm having so much fun writing it. http://gretchenrubin.com/happine...
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
Gold star for the first person to ask a question!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@gretchenrubin Hey Gretchin! Thanks for joining us today. What's something significant you've changed your mind on in the past 6 months?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
Oh, I have a BIG one. I changed my mind about getting a dog. I'd never wanted a dog, but my daughters convinced me. We got our 11-week-old puppy, Barnaby, last week. Very exciting (and a little overwhelming). I decided to "choose the bigger life," which, for me, meant dog. I discuss here: http://gretchenrubin.com/happine...
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@gretchenrubin can you share a pic of your new pup? 🙏
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Gretchen! Happy to see you on here (pun intended... sorry). 😁 I saw you speak at @nireyal's Habit Summit a few years ago (video of your talk from NY below). How your perspective or understanding of human psychology changed since you started learning and writing about it?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@rrhoover I've learned so much about how people are alike, and how they're different. There's such a strong desire, from all of us, to find magic, one-size-fits-all solutions or explanations. "The key is moderation!" "Just get up, and do it first thing in the morning!" "Start small!" True for some people, not all. I feel like the more I study human nature, the more I begin to see the similarities and differences.
jamestodd
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
bear with me here....If you were asking YOURSELF a question in this LIVE Chat to try to illuminate some deep truth about yourself...what would you ask?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@eriktorenberg I'd ask, "Are you an Upholder, a Questioner, an Obliger, or a Rebel?'" This is the framework I developed to try to illuminate a deep truth in people. I learned SO MUCH about myself when I discovered that I'm an Upholder. I'd thought I was pretty typical when it came to habits, but I'm actually on the extreme fringe. Which surprised no one but me! Read about the Four Tendencies framework, and take an online quiz to find out YOUR Tendency, here: http://gretchenrubin.com/happine...
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Who are some of the most influential/impactful people in your life?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@katesegrin Probably the people who have influenced me most are people I've never met! Winston Churchill -- I wrote a biography about him, huge influence on my thinking and writing and living. http://gretchenrubin.com/other-b... Samuel Johnson, the way he approaches human nature. George Orwell's writing -- the essay on Dickens and Tolstoy! Unforgettable. My spiritual master St. Therese of Lisieux (read her extraordinary memoir, Story of a Soul). Virginia Woolf. Flannery O'Connor's use of formal and colloquial language. And of course, the extraordinary long-term influence of my favorite childhood writers, which did so much to shape my soul and my thinking: CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Edward Eager, Elizabeth Enright....gosh I could go on and on.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@gretchenrubin Hey Gretchen! I have just started at PH and getting used to working in a remote environment. I try to get out and exercise to refresh myself, what other daily routines would you recommend to keep up levels of happiness? I'm still not sure I am into meditation yet, although not really explored it!
Judith Straetemans
Judith Straetemans@judithstr · Product Manager @ Addapp
@gretchenrubin Hey Gretchen! What are your favorite books/talks/... on (finding) happiness, besides your own ones?
Mouyyad Abdulhadi
Mouyyad Abdulhadi@mouyyada · Marketer, Founder appruvd.com
@gretchenrubin loved The Happiness project, out of everything you did in your happiness experiments, whats the one thing that you still do and how big of an impact has that had?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@mouyyada Gosh, I still do MOST of the things that I wrote about. So many things. Big things, like maintaining my blog, www.gretchenrubin.com, or being part of my children's literature reading groups, or smaller things, like kissing my husband every morning and every night. One thing that made me much happier, that I discuss in my new book Better Than Before, is quitting sugar. NOT eating sugar makes me so much happier than sugar ever did. But that wouldn't be true for everyone, I know.
Mouyyad Abdulhadi
Mouyyad Abdulhadi@mouyyada · Marketer, Founder appruvd.com
@gretchenrubin wow, it's great that you still do most things...maybe a follow up question, is what things do you no longer do and why? Were those things too consuming or not worth it from a happiness perspective?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
When you think of the term "success" who comes to mind?
Julie de Graaf
Julie de Graaf@julieschrijft · journalist
Hi Gretchen, I love your podcast. Every episode sounds so effortless (in a good, spontaneous way), it almost feels like you and Elizabeth just call each other and chat for a bit. So I'm curious to know: how much time (including preparation and editing) goes into each episode? By the way, great episode with Eliza! I listened to it while running this morning: my wednesday habit :) Thanks! - Julie (from Leiden, the Netherlands)
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@julieschrijft That's so nice to hear! Thanks for your kind words -- especially about Eliza's appearance! Elizabeth and I have a call where we decide what subjects to talk about. Then, a few days later, we'll go over it. We talk about what we'll talk about, consult on whether a particular example or fact is worth including, decide what the "update" feature will be, debate whether a demerit/gold star is interesting, etc. Fun to include some kind of clip or unexpected note, so we also try to think if there's anything that ties in (sometimes it's obvious, sometimes not). Sometimes our producer Henry will add a little surprise, too, which is so fun to discover when Elizabeth and I listen to the final episode.
Amit Jain
Amit Jain@gravicle · iOS Engineer
Hey Gretchen! Good to see you on PH. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about happiness?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@gravicle That because something makes you happy, it will make someone else happy -- or vice versa. We can build a happy life only on the foundation of our natures, interests, and values.
Positivity Dan
Positivity Dan@positivitydan · n/a
@gretchenrubin, Thanks for doing this AMA! What are some critical aspects of habit formation that people usually miss?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@positivitydan You need to start by thinking about what is true FOR YOU. Not what worked for Ben Franklin or your sister.
randa
randa@randathinks · Deal team @ AngelList
@gretchenrubin what was your childhood like? what did your parents (or whoever raised you) do right and what do you think they could have done differently?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@randathinks I had a great childhood. My parents did many things right. I wish I'd thought more about "being Gretchen," however. I did some things that I thought I should do, not because I wanted to do them. My parents might have helped me think that through more explicitly.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@gretchenrubin thanks for joining us today! What inspired you to start your pursuit of happiness? And if you could give only one piece of advice for people to change one habit to help them in their pursuit of happiness, what would it be?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@ems_hodge Gosh, ONE piece of advice? Almost nothing is universal...but I think I would say...GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
Irina Jordan
Irina Jordan@irinajordan · Director of Inbound Marketing
@gretchenrubin Loved "The Happiness Project". Have you been able to raise your naturally set point for happiness? Do you think it can be raised indefinitely as long as you're mindful of it. Thanks!
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@irinajordan I think that through our conscious thoughts and actions, we can make our experience of our lives much happier. Our inborn nature is the same, but our lives are happier, healthier, and more productive. One person might naturally be an 8 on the happiness scale; another person a 6, but we can all take steps to push ourselves to the top of our natural range.
jamestodd
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
I enjoyed hearing you speak at WDS in 2013...
It really inspired me to spend more time eating extended meals with people I care deeply about (Happiness Pre-indicator #2). There are lots of great habit books out now. What makes "Better Than Before" stand out among them?
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin@gretchenrubin · writer, self
@jamestodd Many experts on habits propose some approach: do it for 30 days, give yourself a cheat day, start small, do it first thing in the morning. A habits researcher told me, in all seriousness, that been given a grant to identify the "best habits for people to have." But different strategies work for different people! One person gets up early, one does better by doing something later. One person resists a strong temptation by abstaining; another by moderation. One person does better by working slowly and steadily; another loves the crunch of a deadline. One person loves habits; another is philosophically opposed to habits. These differences have huge influence over the way we can most effectively shape our habits. The one true thing? Begin with YOURSELF and what's true FOR YOU (plus get enough sleep).
jamestodd
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@gretchenrubin Love that idea! So you're inviting people to explore their habit diversity. :) www.habitdiversity.com is available at the time of this post. :P Can't wait until the Four Tendencies book is out. Gold star for reminding me of that mental model!