Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Make Yourself Happier: Make Your Bed

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.

Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Happiness begins with concrete, manageable steps. But it must take on a more transcendent aspect as well.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
Keep reading Show less

Conspicuous consumption is over. It’s all about intangibles now

These new status behaviours are what one expert calls 'inconspicuous consumption'.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Tiffany
Politics & Current Affairs
In 1899, the economist Thorstein Veblen observed that silver spoons and corsets were markers of elite social position.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast