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

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Secret of Adulthood: It’s Easier to Demand a Lot from Yourself When You’re Giving a Lot to Yourself.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:

It'sEasierToDemandALot

 

Agree, disagree?

In my view, this is why we must have treats! Treats for everyone–but they must be healthy treats, and that can be a challenge. Also, sometimes treats don’t look like treats.

This subject comes up a lot in my next book…and very soon, all will be revealed about that! If you’ve been paying very, very, very close attention, you may know what I’m writing about; if not, stay tuned.

Do you find that it’s easier to ask more of yourself when you’re also giving more to yourself? What do you do, to re-charge your battery?

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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.

Do You Accept These Paradoxes of Happiness?

handsdrawingEvery Wednesday is Tip Day, or List Day, or Quiz Day.

This Wednesday: Do you accept these paradoxes of happiness?

I love a paradox. G  K. Chesterton wrote that “Paradox has been defined as ‘Truth standing on her head to get attention,'” and I find that an idea expressed in a paradox captures my attention with particular force.

Here are some of my favorites:

We should be selfish, if only for selfless reasons. On a related note…

Being a little selfish helps me to be selfless. We must have treats.

Discipline brings freedom. As an Upholder, I believe this with all my heart, but Rebels will disagree.

Accept yourself, and expect more of yourself. W. H. Auden articulates beautifully this tension:

“Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”

Keep an empty shelf, and keep a junk drawer. Want to see my empty shelf? You can see it here, at 6:40.

Take yourself less seriously—and take yourself more seriously.

Go slow to go fast.

Think about yourself so you can forget yourself. 

You can be generous by taking. I love the story a friend told me that reminded me of this point. Also this story.

The days are long, but the years are short. Of everything I’ve ever written, this little video I made, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people.

What are some of your favorite paradoxes? Happiness related, or otherwise.

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Story: What Some Folks Would Do (From Flannery O’Connor).

This week’s video story: “Well, them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do.”

 

This is the quotation I’m talking about, from Flannery O’Connor’s essay “Writing Short Stories,” in Mystery and Manners:

I lent some stories to a country lady who lives down the road from me, and when she returned them, she said, “Well, them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do,” and I thought to myself that that was right; when you write stories, you have to be content to start exactly there—showing how some specific folks will do, will do in spite of everything.

I’ve tried to explain why this passage has such power for me, but I’m not confident that I actually understand why these lines have haunted me for so long.

Do you have a quotation that sticks with you? That runs through your head, over and over?

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Find the archives of videos here.  Almost 1.8 MILLION views. Don’t forget to subscribe.

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What Kind of Person Are You? The Four Rubin Tendencies.

hogwarts housesBack by popular demand–the four Rubin Tendencies (I keep changing the name of this framework. Any suggestions or comments welcome. Do you like the Rubin Character Index Better?)

It’s very important to know ourselves, but self-knowledge is challenging.  I’m like a Muggle Sorting Hat! I sort everyone into four categories, which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

In a nutshell:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (myhusband is a Questioner)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

 

I recently gave a talk at LinkedIn about the Rubin Character Index, so if you’d like to see me discuss each category in  a video, you can watch: for Upholders, watch here; Questioners, here;  Rebels, here, and Obligers, here.

From my observation, I can say with confidence that Rebel is the smallest category, then Upholder–this was a shock to me. I didn’t realize how few people are Upholders. Many things became clear to me once I realized this. Most people are Questioners or Obligers.

Obligers are the folks who are the most likely to say they wish they were in a different category. They say things like, “I wish I weren’t a people-pleaser” or “I wish I could take time for myself.”

Do you find yourself within this framework? If so, does it help you understand how to manage yourself better? Figuring out the Tendencies helped me understand myself, and it has also made it much easier for me to understand other people’s perspectives. Fact is, most people don’t see things the way we Upholders do.

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Feeling Blue? Consider the Beauty of Nature.

pendulumOne common happiness challenge is: How do you give yourself a boost when you’re feeling blue? Or when you’re past the point of feeling blue, and are feeling deeply unhappy?

One refuge is to consider the beauty of nature.

Nature is impersonal, awe-inspiring, elegant, eternal. It’s geometrically perfect.  It’s tiny and gigantic. You can travel far to be in a beautiful natural setting, or you can observe it in your backyard–or, in my case, in the trees lining New York City sidewalks, or in the clouds above skyscrapers.

A few nights ago, my eight-year-old daughter burst into my office. She was very excited to show me a video, Pendulum Waves, which shows extraordinary patterns created by the simple pendulum.

Watching the video, I was struck, for the millionth time, by the beauty of nature. I often remind myself of one of my favorite quotations, from Boethius, “Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things.” Or I remind myself to “Consider the elephant“–wonder why? Because of this passage from Eugene Delacroix’s fascinating Journal.

Do you find that when you’re caught in the troubles of your own experience–whether those are grave problems,  or petty annoyances–that contemplating nature is helpful?

The extent and stability of the heavens! In a shell, in an elephant, in the clouds, in a rock formation, in the action of a pendulum.

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