Have You Ever Lost Your Love for Something–Like the Mountains? Did You Turn Elsewhere?

“I have to admit that, although I do not feel that I myself have changed, my love for the mountains is draining away from me like a wave running backwards down the sand. My thoughts are unchanged, but the mountains have taken leave of me. Their unchanging joys mean less and less to me, so long and so intently have I sought them out….When I climb, it is not among bracken and rock-face, but among the phantoms of my memories….

What attracts me now is the forest.”

Tristes Tropiques, Claude Levi-Strauss

This is a poignant reminder that sometimes we lose our passion for something that once gave us great joy. Perhaps we lose the physical stamina to play tennis, or we weary of needlepoint, or we move to place where gardening isn’t possible.

Or, as has happened to me, we spend enough time on a fascinating subject that we come to the end of it, for ourselves. I experienced this with Churchill. What a joy it was to write Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, my biography of Churchill! What a subject! And yet now, when I see a new Churchill biography in …

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Podcast 40: Holiday Episode: Cornucopia of Try-This-at-Homes from Listeners, and Thoughts on Decorations.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Very Special Episode, Holiday edition! Don’t miss the bonus at the end of the episode, when Elizabeth’s son Jack recites a holiday poem.

Update: Elizabeth and I talk about how we divide up our holidays.

Listener Try This at Home: We asked everyone, “What’s your Try This at Home for staying happier, healthier, and more productive over the holidays? We got so many great answers.

One listener suggested reading my post about “8 tips for dealing with difficult relatives during holidays.

I mention being an under-buyer. Want to read about under-buyer vs. over-buyer?

Questioner for Listeners: We also asked, “What’s the thing that’s the essential element of the holiday for you?” For instance, for Elizabeth, the essential element of Thanksgiving is stuffing — and the hanging-out time.

Elizabeth’s Demerit:  Elizabeth has non-functioning twinkle lights dangling off her house.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to our mother, who gave me a pre-assembled set of holiday decorations for Halloween. See photo! And note that although tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I still haven’t put away our Halloween …

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Five Very Big Things I’m Grateful for This Year.

Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: gratitude is a critical element to a happy life.

Research shows that people who cultivate gratitude get a boost in happiness and optimism, feel more connected to other people, are better-liked and have more friends, are more likely to help others—they even sleep better and have fewer headaches.

Nevertheless, I find it…challenging to cultivate a grateful frame of mind. I find it all too easy to fail to appreciate all the things I feel grateful for—from pervasive, basic things like democratic government and running water, to major, personal aspects of my life such as the fact that my two daughters rarely fight, to little passing joys, like a warm fall day. I get preoccupied with petty complaints and minor irritations, and forget just how much happiness I already have.

So for this Thanksgiving, I decided to take a moment to think about what’s happened in my life since last Thanksgiving, to set aside a moment for thankfulness.

And boy do I have a lot to be thankful for. So much!

1. My husband’s hepatitis C is cured!

First, and by far biggest: My husband’s hepatitis C is cured! I will never stop being thankful for that, I’ll never …

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The Answer to a Question People Keep Asking Me: What Do I Eat Every Day?

Assay: People keep emailing to ask me what I eat, so here’s the answer.

But before I respond, I want to say a few things.

First, I do indeed eat a very low-carb diet. If you want to know why and how I came to do that, I describe it in my book Better Than Before and in episode 33 of the podcast.  Nutshell version: more than three years ago, while on vacation with my family, I read Gary Taubes‘s book Why We Get Fat. I experienced a “Lightning Bolt,” and all my eating habits changed — overnight, effortlessly, and permanently.

Not everyone would want to eat this very-low-carb way, and even people who more or less eat this way (like my father) might not want to be as strict as I am. I prefer to be super-strict. Hey, everyone needs a hobby!

Second, I want to say that after thinking and learning about nutrition for several years, I’ve concluded this: what we don’t eat is more important than what we do eat. People can be healthy and vigorous eating wildly different things. We …

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Agree, Disagree? “Those Who Are Not Grateful Soon Begin to Complain of Everything.”

“Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.” 

–Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

In the United States, we’re approaching the holiday of Thanksgiving — a great reminder to stop and take a moment to be thankful.

In my experience, gratitude does drive out resentment, anger, and annoyance.  And complaining! When I think about how grateful I am that I didn’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, I stop grumbling to myself about the fact that I don’t like asparagus.

Do you agree or disagree with Merton?

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