My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

Want to get the "Moment of Happiness"? A daily happiness quotation in your inbox. Sign up here close daily quote

Story: Guess–Who Never Confuses Identical Twins?

This week’s video story: 


I’m talking about One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned about Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular by my friend Abigail Pogrebin. I’ve always been fascinated (and a little envious) about the relationship between identical twins.

If you want to learn more about the book, check out the book trailer (made by the same person who makes my videos, Maria Giacchino.)

Do you ever think about what it would be like to be an identical twin?

Find the archives of videos here.  Almost 1.9 MILLION views. Don’t forget to subscribe.

If you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

I'm deep in the writing of my next book, Before and After, about making and breaking habits, and there's nothing more satisfying than reading the success stories of people who have changed a habit. If you have a Before-and-After story of a habit you changed, and you're willing to share it here on the blog, please contact me here. Once a week, I'll post a story. We can all learn from each other.

Revealed! Book Club Choices for December. Happy Reading.

booksopenforreadingBecause nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness

· one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

· one eccentric pick–an excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

I’ll post these recommendations here, or to make sure you don’t miss them, sign up for the monthly Book Club newsletter.

Shop at the wonderful Brooklyn indie WORD,, Amazon (I’m an affiliate of all three), or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness:

–Baumeister and Tierney, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Buy from WORD; BN.comAmazon.

An outstanding young-adult book:

–Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria.

Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds. So I won’t describe these books, but I love all the books I recommend; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely loved.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think? Roenneberg’s Internal Time; Pope’s The Sherwood Ring; and LeBlanc’s Random Family.

So, so, so good.

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

“If We Attend Continually and Promptly to the Little That We Can Do…”

Samuel-Butler“Arrears of small things to be attended to, if allowed to accumulate, worry and depress like unpaid debts.  The main work should always stand aside for these, not these for the main work, as large debts should stand aside for small ones, or truth for common charity and good feeling.  If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”

–Samuel Butler, Note-books

I’m not sure if I agree with Butler, in all circumstances, though sometimes I find this to be true. What do you think?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

Before and After: Two Obligers Act as Accountability Partners for Each Other.

HabitsRepeatFourI’m writing my next book, Before and After, about how we make and break habits–an issue  very relevant to happiness. Each week, I’ll post a before-and-after story submitted by a reader, about how he or she successfully changed a habit. We can all learn from each other. If you’d like to share your story, contact me here.

This week’s before-and-after story comes from Kay Walker.

One of my adult sons shared your video on the four types of people with regards to habits. I immediately recognized myself as an Obliger. My other grown son also watched the video and saw himself as an Obliger as well.


During a conversation, we both lamented the fact that we can never make ourselves get up and accomplish our morning goals for ourselves. It was riding my stationary bike for me, and some breathing exercises and elliptical training for my son. We somehow thought of the idea of becoming that external accountability for each other. We decided to email each other each morning with our morning status, stating what we did to work toward our goals. It has been truly amazing for both of us.


I am now able to get up immediately when my alarm goes off (or before!), and get on my bike and meet my goal each day. The first couple of weeks I intentionally skipped a morning for a day when I had an early appointment or was going out of town. But this past week, I rode my bike five days straight, over 5 miles each day and had my first ever 25 plus mile week. My son is also accomplishing his goals every day. It has been so helpful to finally understand what we both needed to be successful with our goals and habits. And to find such an easy way to make this positive change become a habit…priceless!

The unexpected bonus for me has been the way I feel about myself the rest of the day. That positive habit carries over into other positive behaviors and higher self esteem, more energy, and an uplifted mood as I start my day!

This is a great example of using the Rubin Tendencies to figure out how to set yourself up for success with a new habit. Obligers need external accountability–that is crucial for Obligersand Kay and her son decided to be accountability partners for each other. Excellent.

Also, Kay notes that mastering this one good habit makes her day better. Exercise generally lifts people’s spirits and gives them more energy; also, research shows, that people who foster one healthy habit–especially the habit of exercise, for some reason–tend to see a boost in their ability to stick to other unrelated healthy habits.

How about you? have you tried to shape a habit according to your Rubin Tendency? Have you ever made progress with an “accountability partner”?

I write about the Strategy of Self-Knowledge and the Strategy of Accountability in Before and After. If you’d like to know when the book is available for pre-order (not for a while, I must confess!), sign up here.

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

Secret of Adulthood: No One Regrets Having Changed a Lightbulb.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:



It took me a long time to master this Secret of Adulthood. I have a real tendency to put off small chores like changing lightbulbs, even though for me, burned out bulbs are a broken window.

My senior year of college, I lived with a friend who was the same way. We’d joke about it. When a crucial hallway lightbulb burned out, I said to her, “Well, it was sure nice having a light there, while it lasted,” and she said, “Yeah, now we’ll just have to get used to not having one.” We were sort of kidding, but the fact is, that lightbulb stayed burned out for a few months, until her boyfriend lost patience and changed it.

But with age and experience I’ve learned! Go ahead and change that lightbulb.

It’s a good exercise. Fill in the blank: “No regrets having ____.” Exercised. Worn a seat belt. Checked to make sure they had their phone. What else would you add?

In Happier at Home, I write about how a little thing–like a burned out lightbulb or an unmade bed–can make a surprisingly big difference in how we feel when we’re at home. For better or for worse.

Do you find that to be true?