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

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A Lagniappe For You (That Is, a Bonus Gift for You).

cracker-jackI have many pet words, such as winkle, chirk, and mellifluous, and one of my favorites is lagniappe: something given as a bonus or extra gift. That’s the extra doughnut in the baker’s dozen, or the prize in the Cracker Jack’s, or the tote bag you get for coming to an event.

Now I’ve prepared a lagniappe for you.

The paperback of Happier at Home is coming out in a few weeks. If you pre-order, I’ll send you a nifty Tips Sheet of  “9 Extremely Quick and Easy Steps to Become Happier at Home.” “Quick and easy,” meaning, steps you can take in the next ten minutes, and that take almost no extra time, energy, or money.

You can pre-order the book here, and you can sign up to get the Tips Sheet here.

To keep this process quick and easy, you don’t have to submit any proof of purchase. I’m doing this on the honor system.  So be honest! Also, if you’ve already pre-ordered, and now you’d like to get the Tips Sheet, go ahead and sign up.

For most of us, it’s a lot easier to be happy when we feel happier at home, and sometimes very small changes can make a big difference.

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I'm just about finished writing my next book, Better Than Before, about how we can make and break our habits. If you’d like to hear when the book goes on sale, sign up here.

How to Spot a Psychopath.

door openEvery Wednesday is List Day, or Tip Day, or Quiz Day.

This Wednesday: How to spot a psychopath.

I love finding–or inventing–ways to categorize people. I agree with philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who observed, “Every classification throws light on something.”

I’ve devised several of these, and of the ones I’ve come up with myself, my favorites are the Abstainer/Moderator distinction and the four Rubin Tendencies.

Because of this interest, I was intrigued to come across the Psychopathic Personality Inventory, a personality test for traits  associated with psychopathy.

I think that we can all agree that one thing that does not contribute to a happy life is a relationship with a psychopath. But what traits are associated with psychopaths?

The test seeks to measure:

Social influence — a tendency to seem charming, persuasive

Fearlessness — a tendency to embrace risk without fear or anxiety

Stress immunity — stays cool in difficult circumstances

Machiavellian egocentricity — a tendency to consider only personal needs

Rebellious nonconformity — a tendency to neglect of social conventions and regulations

Blame externalization — a tendency to assign blame for problems or obstacles to other people

Carefree lack of planning — limited willingness to make future plans

Cold-heartedness — no guilt or remorse

People throw around the terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” quite frequently, but these are technical terms with very specific meanings. That said, if there’s someone in your life who seems to show many of the above traits, it might be useful to reflect on that.

Do you know anyone who fits these traits? To my great relief, I realize, I don’t.

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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.

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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, 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:

–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; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria.

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.

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.

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“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?

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