Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier

I knew from experience that setting my alarm to 6 am when I was used to 8 am wasn’t going to work in the long run, so I instead committed to pushing the time back for just 15 minutes once a week to give my brain a better chance of adapting.

How to Spot a Psychopath

I love finding—or inventing—ways to categorize people. I agree with philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who observed, “Every classification throws light on something.”

Questions for You Questioners and Obligers, About Treats

Questioners: do you have trouble giving yourself a treat if you feel that it isn’t “necessary” or “justified”? In other words, do you feel like there has to be a sound reason to give yourself a treat?

Avoid the Dangerous Allure of 'Potato-Chip News'

It’s a highly effective strategy, particularly for people who are attracted to potato-chip news. I’m not attracted to potato-chip news, myself, so it took me a while to understand this challenge.

Once Again: 6 Tips for Writing from George Orwell

I was quite pleased by the number of people who wrote to ask where the list had gone, so I’ve decided to re-post it.

Feeling Lonely? Consider Trying These 7 Strategies

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good strategies for making yourself less lonely? What worked—or didn’t work?

Revealed! The Subject of My Next Book

Whenever I start a new book, I think, “This is the most interesting subject of all time. It’s sad, I’ll never enjoy writing another book as much as I enjoy this one.” Every time, I’m convinced. And then I change my mind when I start the next book.

One Way to Boost Happiness? Connect with My Past

I like being back in that environment, to get to listen to law talk and hang out with lawyer friends. It makes me feel more connected to my past, which makes me feel more rooted, more…coherent.

What Kind of Person Are You? The Four Rubin Tendencies

It’s very important to know ourselves, but self-knowledge is challenging.

Feeling Blue? Consider the Beauty of Nature

Nature is impersonal, awe-inspiring, elegant, eternal. It’s geometrically perfect. It’s tiny and gigantic.

Check Out These Fascinating Happiness-Related Word Clouds

From a happiness perspective, I was most interested in the word clouds for extraversion, introversion, neuroticism, and emotional stability.

Do You Fall Prey to These 4 Types of Impulse Purchases?

When we’re trying to change our buying habits, one challenge is that marketers are so clever at enticing us into making impulse purchases.

Do You Prefer to Aim Big or Aim Small?

With any kind of happiness project or habits change, we need to figure out what kind of change to aim at.

Can the Simple Act of Making a List Boost Your Happiness?

When I was in college, I took a class on the culture of Heian Japan, and the one and only thing I remember about that subject is The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. This strange, brilliant book has haunted me for years.

A Happiness Lesson from Claire Danes

Danes was quoted saying something that really caught my attention.

Ever Been Stuck With Someone Who Tells How Wrong You Are?

Back by popular demand is the essay I wrote about the “oppositional conversational style.” This post really seems to strike a chord with people.

Who Knew? Lucky Charms Actually Work

Most of us aren’t superstitious—but most of us are a littlestitious.

A Menu of Options for Making Small Talk

Small talk can be a big problem. I want to be friendly and polite, but I just can’t think of a thing to say.

More Questions for the Upholders

I’m still obsessed with the four categories I’ve developed–which, for lack of a better name, I’m currently calling the Four Rubin Tendencies. Or maybe I’m calling it the Rubin Character Index. Which name do you like better?

Why I Consult My “Manager,” and Why She Always Takes My Call

Do you sometimes feel as if you’re two people? For a long time, I struggled to identify the metaphor to describe the tension between my two selves—between now-Gretchen and future-Gretchen, between the want-self and should-self.

Are You the Kind of Person Who Divides the World into Two?

Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse. “Oh, I can’t be expected to resist eating the cookies in the cupboard, I’m an abstainer.”

Creative Writing 101

What do you think of these rules?

The Disappearance of This New York Icon Made Me a Little Sad

My mother is visiting from Kansas City, and she visited the museum, so I just saw her wearing the newfangled admissions sticker. “It’s just not the same,” I told her.

Quiz: Are You a Finisher or an Opener?

A thoughtful reader and fellow lover of taxonomies, Dianne Volek, suggested a new system of categories. Let’s call the two types of people “Finishers and Openers.”

A Post That I Simply Can’t Resist Writing

For the most part, I make a big effort not to tell “cute things my daughter said” stories to anyone but the grandparents.

Want to Snack Less and Concentrate Better? Try This!

Okay, humor me here. This sounds silly, but it really works. Try the resolution to “Chew on a plastic stirrer.“

I Love Lists

“I believe, then, that the characteristic or moral elements of Gothic are the following, placed in the order of their importance...

Do You Agree That These “Patterns” Make Places Beautiful?

This book doesn’t need to be read from front to back; I often just flip through it and study the parts that resonate with me—and look at the pictures, too, of course.

How Will You Make Your Own Summer?

The end of the school year is also significant to me because I still measure my own life by the school calendar.

Consider These Questions Posed to You Upholders

I’m still obsessed with the four categories I’ve developed–which, for lack of a better name, I’m currently calling the Four Rubin Tendencies.