Big Think Interview With Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is the author of many books, including the block-buster New York Times bestsellers The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before, and The Happiness Project. She also has a top-ranked, award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and a popular blog, gretchenrubin.com. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Gretchen Rubin: Gretchen Rubin, writer.\r\n
Question: What was the “happiness project” you undertook?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: The Happiness Project is the book that I wrote. It’s an account of the year that I spent testing the wisdom of the ages, the current science **** studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. I wanted to find out if you really did all of those things that you ought to do, would you really make yourself happier? And I wanted to do it within the confines of my ordinary day. I didn’t want to make a radical change, I just wanted to do everything – I wanted to change my life without changing my life.\r\n
Question: What were some the specific pieces of advice you tested?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: One of the things that you see ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree on is that strong relationships are a key to happiness, maybe the key to happiness. People who have more strong relationships in their lives just feel happier. So, a lot of my resolutions were aimed at either strengthening existing relationships, things like – I would make resolutions like show up, be generous, remember birthdays, things that were supposed to strengthen my relationships, and then also to build new relationships. So, I joined, or started 11 groups starting from the time I had my happiness project and from that I made a ton of new friends. And then of course, I had a lot of resolutions aimed at the relationships in my family. I wanted to have a tender, more light-hearted atmosphere in my house, and so I did a lot of resolutions that were aimed at strengthening my relationship with my husband and my two daughters.\r\n
Question: Which nuggets of ancient wisdom did you test?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Right. Well, one of them was this idea that strong relationships will happen. If Aristotle talked about the importance of friendships and people today are talking about the importance of friendships. Another one, one of the most ancient precepts of happiness is this idea, know thyself. In fact, the words “know thyself” are scribed at the temple of Apollo in Delphi. And we all know the Shakespeare quotation, “To thine own self be true,” but it was only when I tried to be Gretchen, that was my resolution to myself, that I realize what a challenge it was really to be Gretchen. I had to think about what made me happy. Not what I thought should make me happy, or what I wished made me happy, or what made other people happy, but what I really needed to build into my life if I wanted to have a happier life. So, that’s a place where the most ancient wisdom is still true today. “Know thyself,” it’s still a challenge, it still works.\r\n
Question: Which ancient prescriptions for happiness did you find to be false?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well, I’m not sure that this is so ancient, but definitely a theme within happiness thinking is this idea that if you chase happiness, or you seek happiness that you somehow undermine your ability to find happiness. So, for example, John Stuart Mill wrote, “Ask yourself if you are happy, and you shall cease to be so.” And I think that’s just completely wrong. And I know it’s John Stuart Mill versus Gretchen Rubin, but I think you don’t hit a target by not aiming at it, and at least for me, when I started asking myself, am I happy? I immediately realized I am happy. I’m happier than I realized. I was too distracted by minor irritations. I was losing site of how happy I really was and so by asking myself if I was happy, I was actually lifting myself up and also helping myself identify what I could change in my life to help myself be happier. So, that was something where I felt like this idea where you should not seek happiness is actually not a very helpful piece of happy advice.\r\n
Question: What are active steps that ordinary people can take to improve their daily happiness?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well, there’s a million things. There’s so many resolutions that can really work and one of the things is, I think that some people don’t want to start a happiness project because they somehow imagine that they’re going to have to come up with an hour of free time every day, which they don’t have. There’s so many things you can do just within the structure of your ordinary life that don’t take a lot of effort.\r\n
For some reason, and this is surprising to me, and I’m not sure why this is, but the resolution that over and over, people mention to me that something that helped them get started with their happiness project is to make your bed. I realize that in a happy life, making your bed should play a very small part, I don’t know why this is so helpful to people getting started on a happiness project, but for some reason, making your bed – it’s concrete, it’s manageable. There’s a big difference between having a bed that’s unmade and a bed that’s made. That little bit of outer order in people’s lives seem to help them get started. So, that’s a very small thing that you can do.\r\n
Something I think that I really wanted for my happiness project and I think other people want too, is they want a way to bring the more transcendent values of life into their ordinary day. And that can be hard to do. In one of the resolutions that I found most interesting, most engaging that I think a lot of people have also found interesting is to imitate a spiritual master. Now, the first question you have to ask yourself is, well, who is my spiritual master? And that’s actually a very good question to ask yourself. You should know who your spiritual master is. It’s a very fascinating question to ask yourself and to think about all the people it could be. Is it Gandhi? Is it Mother Teresa? Is it Warren Buffett? There are all kinds of people who can be spiritual masters **** because you know it might be a great figure from history.\r\n
But then I think to learn about your spiritual master, to know more about your spiritual master and also to think, well I’m attracted to this person for some reason. There’s something that this person is saying that is resonating with me. How can I translate those values into my life? What would that mean in terms of my life because maybe Gandhi had a very different kind of life, but what would it mean for me. And I think that’s really a fascinating thing for people to think about.\r\n
Another thing with the transcendent value translated into everyday manageable terms, I think a lot of people want to – they have the urge to memorialize. They want to hang on to the present. They want to find a way to remember what’s happening now. And I felt that very strongly, especially with the childhood of my two young daughters. I really wanted to find a way to create a record of it. And in my life, like many people, I tried to keep journals, and I had abandoned them because they’re too much work and I would end up feeling like a failure and not keeping up with them. What I started was a one sentence journal. I just write one sentence every night. Some little observation, some little detail from the day. And for some reason, that’s enough. I look back and I’ve been keeping it for a couple of years and when I look back, I think, I remember what the time was like. I remember what it was like when we went to the Museum of Natural History all the time, or I remember my younger daughter was still using her purple and yellow sippy cup. And it really brings back the time. And there’s something really satisfying about keeping that very manageable journal so that you feel like you are hanging on to the present and appreciating now in a better way.\r\n
Question: Who is your spiritual master?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: My spiritual master, much to my surprise, I wasn’t expecting her to be my spiritual master, is Thérèse of Lisieux. I’m not Catholic; it's because I read Thomas Martin’s "Seventh Story Mountain"; it led me to read St. Thérèsee’s spiritual memoirs, "Story of a Soul." And I was just overwhelmed by this book. She lived about a little more than 100 years ago. She died at the age of 24 of tuberculosis and she lived much of her life in a cloistered convent in France. So she and I have nothing in common. And yet when I read "Story of a Soul," I was immediately enthralled by it. I immediately went out and read dozens of biographies of St. Thérèse. And she is truly my spiritual master, and I think about her all the time. And she is very funny, which is good, and her whole point is to say that you can do little things and it’s through the little things that you can achieve great things, and that you can do it within the confines of your ordinary life. And by figuring out that St. Thérèse was my spiritual master, and also learning more about her and thinking about what her lessons meant for me in my life, even though we just couldn’t be more different, really has been a huge part of my happiness project.\r\n
Question: What are some bad first steps to take in pursuing happiness?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well, there’s a couple of mistakes that I think people make with resolutions. First of all, it’s easy to make a resolution that sounds specific, but is not really specific because the thing with resolutions, the more specific you are with yourself; the better able you are to hold yourself accountable. And that accountability is really the key to the resolutions. So, something like, “I’m going to eat healthy.” Now, that sounds specific, but what are you really asking of yourself? You should say things like, “I’m going to pack my lunch and take it to work every day.” “I’m going to eat salad three times a week.” You should be very specific with yourself so that you know whether you are keeping your resolution.\r\n
A lot of people tell me that they have the resolution to get more fun out of life. If you get more fun out of life you’re going to be happier, but what does that really mean. How do you – what do you do different in your day, in your routine that’s going to make you feel – get more fun out of life? So, you want to say to yourself, “I love old movies, therefore to get more fun out of life; I will rent and watch one classic movie every weekend.” And then if you do that, you’ll know whether you’re keeping your resolution. And if you keep it up for a couple of months, you’re going to feel like – wow, I’m getting more fun out of life. So, it’s good to be very specific.\r\n
And I’ve also noticed something about resolutions. There seems to be this distinction among people. Some people really want to make ‘Yes’ resolutions. And some people seem fine with making ‘No’ resolutions. I’m a person who’s fine saying ‘No.’ I like saying to myself, “no gossiping,” “no nagging.” And that’s easy for me and for some reason, it doesn’t – I don’t feel I have to rebel against that. But I’ve noticed that a lot of people do much better when all their resolutions are framed as ‘Yes.’ Not something like, “I’m going to give up French Fries,” but something like “I’m going to eat three vegetables every day.” “I’m going to hug more, kiss more, touch more.” “I’m going to listen to more music.” They do better when they frame things in the positive. And I think this is just part of human nature. Some people do better that way and some people don’t mind saying ‘No.’ I kind of like the limitation, or feel like I’m accepting these limits. Part of it, again, all these things about a happiness project really, you have to think about your own nature and what works for you and when you do better.\r\n
So this is something that I think can help people stick to their resolutions better.\r\n
Question: Does interacting with readers on your blog make you happier or less happy?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Having my blog has given me such a gigantic engine of happiness. I just can’t even imagine life now without my blog. So, I love my blog. I’m really lucky because I have amazing leadership. I see some of the comments that other blogs get and it seem like all the smart, nice, interested, engaging people are over on my blog because I have an excellent community of people who really are – really have a lot to say and a lot to add by **** huge amount about happiness and just how these things play out in different people’s lives. That’s been a gigantic benefit.\r\n
The thing about a blog and about a book is it’s a very different kind of writing. The blog is wonderful when you just have a 300-500 idea. Just one idea that you want to get out there. And I also like writing a blog because I skip around. One day I’m interested in loneliness, one day I’m interested in unconsciousness over claiming, another day I’m interested in how to keep yourself cheerful if you lost your dog. And so I can move around very easily and take advantage of interesting things that maybe would be a whole chapter in a book, but are interesting and thought provoking ideas.\r\n
A book is a better way to develop a complicated idea, or to tell a big story and to show how ideas weave in and out of each other, which is something that comes up a lot in happiness because all these ideas are interconnected. So, the blog is good for that quick hit, that quick idea, and I love the reader engagement, and then the book allows me to take these ideas and really develop them at much greater length and to tell longer stories. Somebody told me though that they thought the blog was more about process and the book was more about outcome because they’re sort of a more reflective attitude that you have when writing the book because it’s more coherent, it’s more pulled together, it’s more thematically organized and it’s certainly more edited. A blog is something that, everyday there’s a new thing and that’s part of the fun of it, you’re just constantly moving forward. A book really gives you more time to reflect and think hard on things very, very deep.\r\n
Question: What is happiness?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: What is happiness? Now, I’m a lawyer, so I have happy memories of spending a semester in law school arguing about the definition of a contract. And if anything, happiness is even a more elusive concept than that. And so, I got into this and I quickly realized, I’m not going to spend my time trying to find a final definition to happiness. It turns out there are more than 15 academic definitions of happiness. And you can spend a lot of time arguing, is it about satisfaction, is it about peace, is it about bliss, is it momentary, is it long-term? And I realized, it didn’t really matter. What I wanted to think about was, could I be happier today, this week, this month? How could I be happier? Whether my happiness is not exactly the same thing as your happiness, it doesn’t really matter. And what I’ve also noticed is the term happiness, or happy is intimidating to some people. Some people deny that it’s even possible to be happy, or to achieve happiness. Happiness sounds like this magical destination that you arrive at and then everything is sort of solved, or it’s different. So, I think it’s easier to think about being happier. Even people who deny the possibility of being happy, if you say do you think you could be happier? They’ll say, “Yeah, I could be happier.” Sometimes I think it’s easier to think about being happier, for what ever that means to you then worrying about what is happiness and what would life be if I finally achieved this ultimate happiness?\r\n
Question: Do we place too much emphasis on happiness in America?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well, to me, I don’t agree with that. I think that it’s natural and I think appropriate that when people have reached a certain level of prosperity and security, they turn their attention to higher things. And we’re very fortunate that we’re in a position to worry about things like self-realization, or job satisfaction. And I don’t think that it’s – I think it’s only right to think about those kinds of issues. I don’t know what would be better spent thinking about.\r\n
Question: How can we break the cycle of wanting something else whenever we get something we want?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: There’s something called the “arrival fallacy.” And the arrival fallacy is the belief that, if only I could get that job, then I would be happy. Once I take that vacation, then I will be happy. And usually when you reach that destination, it doesn’t bring this big bang of happiness that you expect. But I do think that there is something about happiness where you feel like you’re always reaching out for it. And one of the positive ways to address this is what I call an atmosphere of growth. People feel happier when they feel like they’re progressing. When they feel like something in their life is growing or getting better. One of the ways you see this is, people have a strong preference to get raises, and in fact, studies show that they will choose to make less money overall in order to be paid in a structure where they get paid more and more over time rather than get paid less over time, even if they would make more money – if they took that second route, which doesn’t make sense from an economic standpoint, but it makes a lot of sense if you understand that people want this atmosphere of growth in their life. But it doesn’t only have to be money. It could be something like learning to do something new, learning French, learning Photoshop, making something better, cleaning out your garage. Fixing things that don’t work, teaching somebody something, helping your child learn is one of the thrills of being a parent; training your dog, helping something grow, planting a garden, gaining new skills. Anything like this where you feel this atmosphere of growth. It’s a wonderful engine of happiness and it something that’s available to people even when maybe they feel like other parts of their lives are out of control, or aren’t working, or of they can find someplace in their life where something is getting better, where they feel like something is improving, in some way they are growing and it’s going to help them feel happier.\r\n
Question: Who are some of the happiest people you’ve observed, and what makes them happy?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well, happiness is hard because it’s very subjective. I know the people that seem happiest to me, but whether they are actually – what they’re really like inside is really hard to say. Now, for example, my father is somebody who seems very, very happy. But because of all this work that I’ve done on happiness, when I see people like that, I don’t assume now that they are just naturally that way because I realize that there are a lot of practice to that, there’s a lot of effort that goes into being that kind of person. And it’s very interesting, I posted on my blog about being one of these people that is one of these happy people and how there’s a dark element in human nature where we somehow seem to want to sometimes attack that and bring those people down, or make them confront the way that their optimism isn’t true or that their positive reviews aren’t warranted, and I don’t know why that is. But now that I see how much benefit and energy we get from happy people, I really think that you really need to try to protect it and encourage it and not try to drag those people down.\r\n
It was interesting; several people posted on my blog saying that they were those people and they didn’t understand why people seemed to want to cling onto them and draw from them and their energy, but on the same time also seem to almost want to destroy it. So, I think when you find those happy people in your life, you should really try to support them and to help them be happier rather than somehow trying to contradict them, or mock them, or tease them relentlessly, which just seems to be the reaction that a lot of people have.\r\n
Question: What can the rest of us learn from these positive-outlook people?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: Well one of the things that I learned from my father is that my father just has a huge amount of enthusiasm for even the smallest things. And there was this one very telling episode where I was home in Kansas City and my mother said to my father, he walked in home from work and she said, “We’re going to have pizza for dinner tonight.” And he said, “Wonderful, wonderful. Do you want me to go pick it up?” And I thought, that’s the spirit. You know, it’s like whenever somebody says, instead of just saying, “Sure, okay.” Say, “Wonderful!” And then say how can I help. What can I do? Like, embrace it. And having this enthusiastic response really adds to people’s happiness. Sometimes we feel like being very discerning. Being very critical. It makes us seem sophisticated, and knowledgeable. And it’s true that people do assume that people who are critical are smarter than people who are uncritical. But it actually takes more social courage to be enthusiastic. It’s harder to embrace something and to praise something than it is to criticize something, or mock something. And it’s certainly more fun to be that way, and it’s much more fun to be around people like that. You can catch people’s enthusiasm. And you can also catch their lack of enthusiasm.\r\n
Question: What makes you happy?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: One of the things that I had to do in my happiness project was that I wanted to be Gretchen. That’s my first personal commandment is to be Gretchen. And one of the things that I did in order to be Gretchen is I acknowledged that I had a passion. And it was a passion that I had sort of swept under the rug. I didn’t acknowledge that I had this passion because it didn’t fit with the idea I had of myself, or the way I wanted to present myself to the world. I have a passion for children’s literature. Young adult literature. I love it. I’ve always loved it. And I don’t love it because I’m reading it with my daughters; I love it for its own sake, for myself. But I wanted to feel like I was presenting myself as this very adult, very educated, very sophisticated. I love Tolstoy, I love Virginia Woolf, and I do, but I also love YA and children’s literature. But I realized for my happiness project that life’s too short. I don’t have too so many passions that I can squelch one and not lose something from it. I needed to find a way to bring this into my own life. So, what I did is first of all, I just spent much more time letting myself read these books. But then I started a book group for people who loved children’s literature. And this book group has become such a gigantic engine of happiness for me. I meet with all these people, I’ve made new friends. They’re all bookish people, many of them work in the book publishing industry, they love these books, I mean, you can sit around and talk about the fine points of Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, or early Anne of Green Gables. But people who really, really know their stuff, who love these books. So, I get to follow my passion, I make all these new friends, and that group got so large we had to close it and I started a second children’s literature group and now that group is big.\r\n
And so that was a way where by following a resolution, to be Gretchen, I really allowed myself to acknowledge who I really am, what I really find fun, what I really like to do, and from that, I gained new friends, a new passion, and a gigantic amount of fun.
Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
A conversation with the author of "The Happiness Project."
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.
Taking control of bad luck<p>According to <a href="https://themanifest.com/accounting/budgeting-money-tips-for-millennials" target="_blank">a recent survey by The Manifest</a>, a business news website, millennials agree with Cramer. The study found that, of millennials surveyed, their largest expenses were housing (66 percent), educational expenses (9 percent), and health insurance (6 percent). In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are using the remaining 19 percent of their paychecks to budget and increase their savings.</p><p>About a third of millennials said they are saving more money in response to the pandemic and creating new budgets for themselves. In fact, of all generations surveyed, millennials felt the most comfortable creating personal budgets. They were also willing to think critically and adjust budgets to match financial changes, both signs that this highly-educated generation is willing to learn and adapt.</p><p>Millennials still have a rough road ahead, though. According to the survey, about half of millennials make less than $50,000 a year. That puts them into the upper-lower or lower-middle <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/23/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20national%20middle,(incomes%20in%202018%20dollars)." target="_blank">income class</a>, depending on where in the country they live. That matches <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/time-use-of-millennials-and-nonmillennials.htm#:~:text=Among%20full%2Dtime%20wage%20and,with%2031%20percent%20of%20nonmillennials." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BLS data</a>, which shows millennials earning less than older non-millennials. <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/beyond-bls/the-kids-are-alright-millennials-and-the-economy.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The BLS also notes</a> that while millennials have less debt than GenXers, most of that is student loan debt rather than mortgages.</p><p>And despite their budgetary plans, only 11 percent of millennials surveyed were able to stay within budget, while uncertainty still looms in the future job market.<em></em></p><p>With all this said, there are caveats to The Manifest survey. It hosted a relatively small sample size, only surveying 502 Americans. Of those, millennials made up 22 percent of respondents. They weren't even the largest cohort in the study. That was the baby boomers at 32 percent. </p><p>This makes the survey more suggestive than indicative. But the suggestion is that millennials, to borrow a phrase from writer Vicki Robin, are ready to reinterpret their relationship with finances.</p>
A push for financial freedom<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a463513bfbe5a2b7d5bcc59f8be265a7"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J-B-b393epk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While budgeting and financial savvy have always been important, the millennial generation will need to be far more critical of their relationship with the economy. What <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_tDthUWsVM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Robin calls the old roadmap</a>—the idea that "growth is good, more is better, game over"—is unlikely to support millennials as it did past generations. They'll need a new roadmap, charting both a new macro (the relationship between our economic and ecological footprints, for example) and micro (our individual relationships with money).</p><p>Because the macro is a whole other article, we'll stick with the micro here:</p><p><strong>1) Track and cut your spending</strong></p><p>The first step to financial freedom is to track your spending and cut unnecessary purchases. For Robin, these are often the things, services, and subscriptions that we buy out of habit, but we no longer consider whether they add value to our lives.</p><p>A pernicious modern example is the subscription economy. We subscribe to services for food, clothes, television, exercise, self-help, video games, bric-a-brac, computer programs, and on and on. These services quickly fade into the financial background as just another bill we pay. </p><p>But if we watch Netflix nine times out of ten, why pay for Hulu and Disney+ and HBO Max and CBS All access? Instead, every month or so, we should scrutinize our subscriptions to ask whether they still add value to our lives. If they don't, unsubscribe.</p><p><strong>2) Kill your debt</strong></p><p>Debt doesn't just take away money we could save elsewhere; it's also a self-replicating devourer of wealth. Your debt interest rates are almost certainly higher than your investment returns, especially on credit cards. Because of this, no matter your saving rituals, you're likely bleeding wealth the longer you remain in debt.</p><p>Instead, focus on removing debt from your life. Again, credit card debt especially. The good news is that most companies have hardship programs to help debtors. You can call them to see if they can lower your interest rates or provide other helpful services.</p><p>"Financial accommodations are generally readily available right now," Amy Thomann, the head of consumer credit education at TransUnion, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/at-home/manage-finances-save-money-millennials-coronavirus.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told the New York Times</a><u>.</u> "Lenders, just like consumers, understand the hardships that are going on in the economy."</p><p><strong>3) Have an emergency fund</strong></p><p>Of course, you'll need some savings when the unexpected happens. Say—I don't know—a worldwide pandemic? Experts like Robin and Thomann recommend people have three to six months' worth of expenses on reserve. These should be in liquid assets so you can access them easily and quickly.</p><p>Of course, that's not always feasible, but you should save what you can. </p><p><strong>4) Find social outlets that don't cost</strong></p><p>The economic shutdown has offered one financial boon: It has revealed ways we can enjoy each other's company with overspending. We can host movies remotely with our friends. Play video games online. Enjoy physical-distance strolls through the park. And a host of other creative connections. After the pandemic, the occasional bar hop or Friday dinner out can still be a guilty pleasure. But unlike sitcom characters, we shouldn't be spending our social lives on the set of our favorite coffee shops or local watering holes.</p><p><strong>5) Reconsider your relationship with money</strong></p><p>Robin pushes her readers to be financially free. That is, to understand that there's an economy, people have a relationship with it, but it shouldn't become an obsession that runs their lives. As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDaBjc4QyWU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">she told <em>Big Think</em></a>: "It's like there are so many presumptions that drive us into wage [slavery], and it doesn't matter whether you are at the low end or the high end. If you are engaged in that sort of anxious process of 'more, more, more,' you are not free."</p><p>The millennial generation has certainly been dealt a bum hand, but it's perhaps defeatist, and more than a little premature, to label them the unluckiest generation. Perhaps after being led astray by the old roadmap, they will be the generation to reconsider their relationship with money—not as an end itself but a means to a healthier and more beneficial life. </p>
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
Your health and the health of the planet are not indistinguishable.
- Transitioning to a plant-based diet could help reduce obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
- Humans are destroying entire ecosystems to perpetuate destructive food habits.
- Understanding how to properly transition to a plant-based diet is important for success.
Richard Dawkins: No Civilized Person Accepts Slavery So Why Do We Accept Animal Cruelty? | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c09f23c34faacc8ec55aba054fae9c7c"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_4SnBCPzBl0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Get your hands dirty—in the kitchen</h3><p>Quarantine offered an entire world the opportunity to get into the kitchen and put on a chef's apron. Complaints about "not enough time" are the biggest barriers to preparing home-cooked meals. Of course, pandemic fatigue has resulted in a number of recent chefs ordering out more. That said, this is the perfect time to try your hand at new dishes. With infection rates <a href="https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19/2020/10/11/21511641/covid-19-us-cases-update-testing-deaths-hospitalizations" target="_blank">increasing across the country</a>, stocking up on seasonal vegetables is a great idea. </p><p>Simple seasonal ways to begin your plant-based exploration include <a href="https://nomnompaleo.com/post/11136213353/roasted-kabocha-squash" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roasted kabocha squash</a>, <a href="https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/no-chop-pumpkin-soup/seblnp2r?r=recipes/collections/autumnrecipes&c=f3bf723a-05a7-487d-bd4b-5bc8af042ca9/autumn%20recipes%20you%27ll%20fall%20in%20love%20with" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bombay potatoes</a>, and <a href="https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/no-chop-pumpkin-soup/seblnp2r?r=recipes/collections/autumnrecipes&c=f3bf723a-05a7-487d-bd4b-5bc8af042ca9/autumn%20recipes%20you%27ll%20fall%20in%20love%20with" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no-chop pumpkin soup</a>. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, <a href="https://www.thecuriouschickpea.com/masoor-dal-tadka/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Masoor Dal Tadka</a> will keep you warm into the winter months. A delicious <a href="https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a23362341/sweet-potato-salad-recipe/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sweet potato salad</a> will never fail you. This <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahloewentheil/easy-meatless-monday-recipes" target="_blank">round-up of 25 vegetarian recipes</a> will keep you busy for a few months (or a month if you're ambitious). </p><h3>Educate yourself on the benefits</h3><p>Education is essential for beginning any endeavor. Weeding through propaganda and bunk science to find credible evidence of any diet is difficult, though many experts agree that for individual and societal health, a plant-based diet is key. </p><p>Even vegetarianism has its pitfalls. For example, <a href="https://michaelpollan.com/books/cooked/" target="_blank">one-fifth of all calories</a> consumed by Americans come from nutritionally-worthless white flour. If you're eating processed bread every day, you're missing out on the benefits of a rich and varied diet. </p><p>Many of the "<a href="https://www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/media/Factsheet4.pdf?ua=1" target="_blank">diseases of affluence</a>," such as cardiovascular and obesity-related ailments, originate with a poor diet (and lack of exercise). Meat has been an essential component of the human diet throughout our evolution. Today, we eat too much of it—and too much of it is produced in factory farms. Transitioning to a plant-based diet could help cut down on carbon emissions and the aforementioned diseases. </p><p>Plants are full of valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants that support a <a href="https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/5-benefits-of-a-plant-based-diet.h20-1592991.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">strong immune system</a>. A (non-processed) plant-based diet reduces inflammation and offers plenty of fiber. It has been shown to reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart diseases. Those are all great reasons to transition. </p><h3>Begin your journey with a single step</h3><p>Going cold turkey rarely works for addicts. The same is true of diets. If you're interested in a plant-based diet, try to eat veg every other day for a few weeks. Notice how your body reacts on days you eat this way compared to other days. Gradually phase out meat products. Attempt meat-free weekdays and see if your craving for meat persists on the weekend. Try using meat as a garnish instead of the main course. </p><p>More importantly, have a replacement plan. Dropping all meat products to consume frozen dinners isn't the best course of action. Filling your cart with bags of foods you've never eaten before will overwhelm you. Prepare meals as you taper off of meat; arm yourself with a broad knowledge of healthy plants and vegetables. At some point, you might forget what you've been missing. </p>
Photo: anaumenko / Adobe Stock<h3>Start with foods you already love</h3><p>The good news is that you likely have a number of plant-based side and main dishes that you love. Transitioning into a new diet requires a certain level of enjoyment. Otherwise, you're going to loathe eating, and eating should bring some level of satisfaction. </p><p>Try a one-to-one ratio to begin. On one night, cook a meal you love. Then try something completely new the next night. Follow that up with old faithful. This way, you constantly have new dishes to look forward to yet don't get stuck in thinking you have to be creative every single day. You'll likely find some winners and decide not to repeat other dishes. Regardless, you'll have a broader menu to work from. </p><h3>Avoid ingredients you can't pronounce</h3><p>The produce section of your grocery store provides almost everything you need to survive. You can likely pronounce every ingredient in this section. There's a vast difference between food and foodstuffs. Plenty of plant-based companies offer too much of the latter. Potato chips are technically vegetarian, and some use simple ingredients, yet it's easy to fill your cart with foodstuffs. The health benefits of this are not only negligible but potentially dangerous. </p><p>Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/news/20191104/are-there-health-downsides-to-vegetarian-diets" target="_blank">explains</a>. "If you eat a vegan diet, but eat a lot of french fries, refined carbs like white bread, white rice, that's not healthy." He suggests "emphasizing fruits and vegetables. Not fruit juice but whole food. And nuts."</p><h3>Utilize the wisdom of the internet—but don't get indoctrinated</h3><p>There's a lot of terrible advice—and worse, propaganda—on the internet. While you likely don't want to eat eggs every day, they're not "toxic," as one popular documentary claims. Eggs are <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-eggs" target="_blank">one of the best</a> low-cost, high-value foods around. </p><p>Read websites like <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/scientific-benefits-following-plant-based-diet/" target="_blank">Everyday Health</a>, which uses clear language, like "may improve" and "may decrease," with links to credible studies. This way you follow the going science without becoming fanatical about a particular diet or being disappointed if it turns out the research doesn't hold up. Good science evolves with evidence. And right now, the evidence points to more vegetables in our diets. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>