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

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Revealed! Book Club Choices for August. Happy Reading.

stacks-of-booksBecause 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. This is a book that I love, but freely admit may not be for 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: Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness. Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book: Kristin Cashore, Graceling. Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick: Naomi Novik, His Majesty’s DragonBuy from WORD; BN.comAmazon.

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? Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children, and Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary.

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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.

An Important, if Somewhat Dull, Message.

Many of you receive some sort of mailing from me–for the monthly newsletter, the daily happiness quotation, the book club, or the daily blog post. (Am I leaving anything out?)

If you get these emails through Gmail, please note: Gmail has added a filtering feature that may cause these emails to skip your inbox.

This is annoying, but to make sure that you continue to get these emails, you need to adjust your settings. Don’t worry, it’s easy! Really.

Drag one of my emails to the “Primary” tag, then click “yes” when the alert pops up.

Here’s what it will look like:  Gmail

That’s it!

If you’re inspired by this to sign up for one thing or another…

Sign up for the monthly newsletter here (highlights from the blog and the Facebook Page).

Sign up for the “Moment of Happiness,” the daily happiness quotation, here.

Sign up for the Book Club here.

Sign up to get the daily blog posts by email here. (Don’t be put off by the term “RSS Feed” if you don’t know what that is. It just means you’ll get the daily blog post in your email in-box.)

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Story: “I Ain’t Making Nobody Drink It.”

For the weekly videos, I now tell a story. I’ve realized that for me, and I think for many people, a story is what holds my attention and makes a point most powerfully.

This week’s story: “I sells beer to them as wants it. I ain’t making nobody drink it.”

 

As I say, this story comes from Robert Penn Warren’s novel, All the King’s Men. I’m quoting this passage:

[The bartender] Slade looked at Alex and he looked at Mr. Duffy and he looked at Willie. He sort of flicked his towel halfheartedly in the direction of a cruising fly, and said: “I sells beer to them as wants it. I ain’t making nobody drink it.”

This is a powerful scene–this is just a short part of it–and this moment threads its way through the entire novel.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Find the archives of videos here.  More than 1.6 MILLION views. Don’t forget to subscribe!

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Sometimes a Treat Doesn’t Look Like a Treat.

oneflowerI embrace treats but I’m also very wary of treats. Treats help us feel energized, appreciated, and enthusiastic–but very often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day. An extra glass of wine, an extra brownie, an impulse purchase…

As I’ve thought more about treats, and tried to lengthen my list of healthy treats, I’ve been surprised to realize that many treats don’t look like treats.

Someone was telling me the other day that she loves to do laundry. Go figure. Someone else told me that he loves to make travel arrangements.

It dawned on me yesterday that one of my unconventional treats is clearing clutter. Some kind of clutter is difficult–letting go of things with sentimental value, sifting through papers–but some clutter I find very refreshing to clear.

I found myself looking forward to tackling an overlooked closet. What fun to toss, recycle, give away, and see some open space emerge from that crowded closet. I could hardly wait to get in there.

Again, I realize the importance of the Fifth Splendid Truth about happiness: I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature. Which means that I must recognize the truth about myself. Be Gretchen! And go clear some closets.

How about you? Do you have any treats that most people wouldn’t consider a treat?

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“Happiness Iss No Vague Dream, of That I Now Feel Certain.”

sandgeorge“One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts, once one knows…the necessary ingredients of happiness—simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain.”
–George Sand