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

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Revealed! Book Club Choices for April. Happy Reading.

stack-of-booksBecause nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness or habits

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

· one eccentric pick–a widely admired and 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, BN.com, Amazon (I’m an affiliate of all three), or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness or, more specifically, habits:

Laurie Colwin, Family Happiness. This excellent novel is is a brilliant portrait of an Obliger in full Obliger-rebellion, if that interests you.

Buy from WORD; BN.comAmazon.

An outstanding young-adult book:

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth. This is an outstanding book, which I planned to recommend next month; for this month, I intended to recommend Carol Ryrie Brink’s Andy Buckram’s Tin Men. And it’s out of print! Horrible. Try to get it from the library, so good.

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Journal of Eugene Delacroix.

Buy from WORD; BN.com; 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. I do provide slightly more context in the book club newsletter.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think? Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit;William Pene du Bois’s The Twenty-One Balloons; and Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions.

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I've just finished writing my next book, Better Than Before, about how we can make and break our habits. If you'd like to pre-order the book, click here.

The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short.

A thoughtful reader sent me the link to a conversation between Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg, about Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive.  (To see an interview I did with Arianna Huffington, look here).

In the email, the reader said, “They talked about your story! 26 minutes in.

Well, it’s not 100% clear that, at minute 26, they were specifically referring to my story, The Years Are Short, but the description certainly fits. And of everything that I’ve ever written, that short video story — with its single sentence, “The days are long, but the years are short” — seems to resonate most deeply with people.

If you’ve never seen it, here’s my one-minute video, The Years Are Short:

 

Here’s the video of the conversation about Thrive, with the reference at minute 26:

 

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“No Matter How Mundane Some Action Might Appear, Keep at It Long Enough and It Becomes a Contemplative…Act.”

Murakami1_2677991b“No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.”

–Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Agree, disagree?

Yes, I’ve quoted from Murakami twice in a row, but I just couldn’t resist.

If you’re interested in habits,  you’ll find this book very interesting.

Also, this quotation reminded me of my own rule about adding “meditation” to the end of any activity that’s boring. If I’m impatient while waiting for the bus, tell myself I’m doing “Bus waiting meditation.” If I’m standing in a slow line at the drugstore, I’m doing “Waiting in line meditation.” Just saying these words makes me feel very spiritual and high-minded and wise.

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“I’ve Trained My Dog to Go Out at 6:30 am. His Habit Helped Me Change Mine.”

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. To be notified when the book is available for pre-order, sign up here.

This week’s story comes from someone who wants to stay anonymous.

I’ve trained my dog to go out at 6:30 a.m. His habit helped me change mine. I can’t really ignore 12 kg of cuteness whining in my ear, licking my hand and sitting on me back!

One of the most important habit-formation strategies is the Strategy of Accountability, and a dog is a very effective accountability partner. Dogs don’t care about excuses, they don’t tell you, “You deserve a day off,” they want to go out. And if they don’t get what they want, you pay the price.

For years, I felt accountable to our family schnauzer, Paddywhack. (“Knick-knack, paddywhack, give a dog a bone…”) In high school, when I was trying to stick to the habit of regular running, I always took Paddywhack with me. She leaped with joy every time I put on my running shoes, and her eagerness made it harder for me to skip a day, and strengthened my exercise habit.

In fact, one study—admittedly, by a pet health-care company—showed that dog owners get more exercise, and enjoy it more, than people who go to the gym; older people walk more regularly with a dog than when they walk with another person.

Have you found that having a dog helped you keep a good habit?

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Do You Want a Personalized, Signed, Free Bookplate for a Mother’s Day Gift?

HappierAtHomePaperbackI know that many people give Happier at Home and The Happiness Project as Mother’s Day gifts. A trend that I very much appreciate.

If you’d like to make your gift more special and personalized, sign up here, and I’ll send you a bookplate that’s personalized for the recipient and signed by me. Think how happy you’ll be to cross some gift-giving tasks off your list! Feel free to ask for as many as you like, but U.S. and Canada only — so sorry about that.

I can be a little slow, so to make sure that neither of us has to worry about whether you’ll receive the bookplates by Mother’s Day on May 11, request as soon as possible.

If you’re not able to envision what I’m talking about, look here.

If you’re wondering whether Happier at Home would make a good gift for the mother(s) in your life, I will self-promotingly say that it was a New York Times bestseller, and you can…

– read a sample chapter on the subject of “time”

— watch the one-minute book trailer, “Ten ways to be happier at home” (guess which suggestion proved controversial?)

— listen to a sample of the audiobook

— request the one-page book club discussion guide

— read the Behind-the-Scenes extra (I had a great time writing this)

If you’re wondering if The Happiness Project would make a good gift, I can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller, and a bestseller for more than two years. That’s right, TWO.

–  order your copy

check out the gallery of foreign covers; so interesting to see what different countries put on the cover

watch the one-minute book video

listen to a sample of the audiobook

HAHbookplateHere’s what a bookplate looks like, if you’re not sure.

Obviously, I’m happy to sign and personalize a bookplate for you–it doesn’t have to be a gift! Request as many as you want — within reason. Although I’m flattered when people request 100, I can’t send that many. Again, I’m very sorry that because of mailing issues, this is limited to U.S. and Canada.

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