Ask the Author: Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin I think the best way is through reading a ton. The more you read, the more easily the words come, and ideas, and also the subtleties in how words are used. Good luck!
Gretchen Rubin Restorative solitude can bring great happiness -- but we also need to connect with other people. Relationships are a key to happiness. Making the effort to make closer friends around you will likely make a big difference.
Gretchen Rubin I remind myself, "I'm doing this for myself. I'm doing this chore, I'm undertaking this task, because it's what I want." That way, I don't feel rebellious; I don't feel resentful; I don't expect anyone else even to notice what I've done. When you're making choices from a sense of freedom, there's no need to resist or rebel.
Gretchen Rubin I have some good friends who are Rebels, but now that you mention it, none of my closest friends are Rebels. I still haven't figured out my daughters' Tendencies. I suspect one is an Upholder but it's really too soon to say for sure. Realizing that my husband is a Questioner has been a real revelation -- it's made me much more understanding of some of his (to me, annoying) patterns of behavior.
Gretchen Rubin Well, I tell the story of what happened within a certain amount of time, but in reality my happiness projects have never ended. Most of the things I tried I still continue to do -- because they make me happier. Sometimes it's helpful to set aside a certain amount of time for special focus -- and shorter or longer, whatever seems right to you -- but for both happiness and habits, usually the important things we want to do FOREVER. Which can sometimes be a little intimidating!
Gretchen Rubin These are questions that we should all be asking ourselves. Seems to me that self-reflection and self-knowledge are the keys. What would you regret not doing? By figuring that out now, you can make choices mindfully in the present.
Gretchen Rubin Wow, what a question! I can never decide when I'm asked to pick one book. I love so many books. Perhaps "Goodnight Moon."
Gretchen Rubin I'm happy to hear that my work resonates with you! (The blog is at, for people who don't know about it.) Those are very big questions! One answer: Do what you DO: Also, what did you do for fun when you were 10 years old? That's probably something that you'd be interested in now. In my habits book, I talk about how I consult my "manager" to help me make decisions:
Gretchen Rubin Rebels want to act from choice and freedom; they can do the things they WANT to do. They may not want to join a book group where they'd be expected to read a particular book and commit to meeting once a month, say. But they'd love to get together to talk about a book they liked.
Gretchen Rubin Thanks so much for being a Super-Fan! (For anyone else who wants to join the Super-Fans, sign up here:
It took me a long time to make the switch from law to writing, but it was made easier because I had an idea for a book that I desperately wanted to write (and was already writing, in fact), my sister was a professional writer, so I had that model; and everyone in my family was very supportive of me taking a big risk. At one point, I thought, "I'd rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer," so I knew I had to give writing a shot.
Gretchen Rubin Congrats on the new blog! You're welcome to share, but please do link back to me. I'm honored to be a favorite influencer. Good luck with it --
Gretchen Rubin The most important thing is to have something to say. This sounds obvious, but whenever I struggle with writing, I stop and think, "What am I trying to say?" Once I know that, the writing comes more easily. To be a good writer, I also think it's important to read a tremendous amount.
Gretchen Rubin I'm so happy to hear that you liked the references to Dr. Johnson. I love his writing, but it's not for everyone. I'd start with Boswell's LIFE OF JOHNSON. It's a biography, and includes many of the greatest observations by Johnson. Or Selected Essays. Happy reading.
Gretchen Rubin Anything that helps people to focus on how to live a happier life is great, I think. People often say, "But if you think too much about happiness, won't your preoccupation with happiness keep you from being happy?" In my experience--and certainly true for me--people are much more likely to neglect to think about happiness than to over-think it. It's so easy to get distracted by the chaos of everyday life, and forget what really matters.
Gretchen Rubin It took many months to come up with my twelve personal commandments, and I think they're pretty solid. I did think of adding one more: "Choose the bigger life." But somehow the 12 seemed like a set, once I'd finished. I still think of them all, constantly. It's really a helpful exercise, to try to distill your major principles into a few short phrases.
Gretchen Rubin it's tremendously exciting to know that my work struck such a chord with people. When I was writing, I often asked myself, "Is any of this going to be interesting to anyone else?" Also, it's so fascinating to hear other people's views about happiness -- one reason that I love having a blog is that it's very easy for people to let me know what THEY think. That has deepened my understanding of happiness and habits, very much.

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