wholehearted living

8 Impactful Happiness Hacks from Expert Gretchen Rubin

Maybe it’s something about officially being in my 30s, but so far this year I’ve been semi-obsessed with how to form sustainable, long-term habits to help me maintain a healthy body and mind.

Naturally, I turned to habits-sage Gretchen Rubin for help. Between her podcast, appropriately called Happier, and her books, The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, I’ve gotten plenty of ideas and inspiration for my habits, but what I didn’t really consider beforehand is the link between happiness and habits.

I don’t think I had really connected these two together in my mind before then. But…

For most of us, our habits contribute significantly to our happiness.

Today I wanted to share some of the happiness hacks I’ve picked up from Gretchen Rubin’s work, so that I can remember and continue to implement them—and in case you want to do the same!

8 Impactful Happiness Hacks from Gretchen Rubin

1. Learn Your Habits Personality

At the core of Gretchen’s four tendencies in regards to habit forming is who you feel accountable to—yourself, others, others and yourself, or neither. (Learning that my husband is a “rebel” who doesn’t feel overly accountable to anyone? Not surprisingly but surprisingly helpful as a revelation.) 🙂 She goes into detail on the four types in Better Than Before.

2. Institute Power Hour 

Do you procrastinate certain kinds of tasks? Phone calls, bill payments, signing your kids up for a class or a sport? (I am the queen!) Use one hour to knock out all the things you’ve been procrastinating in one fell swoop, and see how good you feel afterward.

Just the name “power hour” makes me feel all awesome about the pile of mundane things I’m accomplishing!

3. Try the 1-Minute Rule

Anything you can do in one minute, DO. It’s easier to carry that basket of laundry upstairs when you’re going that way than to walk by it (guiltily) fives times. 🙂

4. Know that “Outer Order Contributes to Inner Calm” 

I’ve long been a believer, but hearing her personal and research-based experiences with this principle brought it home for me. Outer order –> inner calm. 

5. Be Aware of Habit-Forming Loopholes

“This doesn’t count because it’s the weekend.”
“You only live once!”
“I’ve been so good this week, I deserve it…”

All of Gretchen’s loopholes are spot-on, and it’s so useful to note which ones you tend to use the most often as excuses to break your good habits.

6. Only Use Rewards that Propel You Further into the Habit

Have you ever rewarded yourself for a solid week of healthy eating by consuming half a cheesecake in one sitting? Yeah, that doesn’t make sense. Choose rewards that reinforce your habit, like buying a new yoga outfit after a dozen yoga classes.

7. Schedule When You’re Going to Worry

If you’ve got something on the calendar that turns your stomach into knots, why worry about it for a long stretch of time? If you know you can’t avoid the worry altogether, Gretchen suggests telling yourself it’s out of your mind until a certain date: “I won’t waste a minute worrying about this until the first of the month.”

8. Watch For and Accept Your Transition Rituals

We give our children plenty warning when it’s time to switch from one activity to another. (“Five more minutes!”) But often we expect ourselves to transition flawlessly. There’s nothing wrong with needing a transition ritual to help you shift gears. (For me, a half an hour to myself the moment the kids are in bed is essential. Now I just have a term for it!)

As Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying…

“Happiness is not the goal… It’s a by-product of a life well lived.”

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  • Heidi Poelman
    May 24, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Love the idea of power hour! I put off those mundane things forever and let them drive me nuts in the background. Great ideas, thanks.

    • Erica Layne
      May 24, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Heidi! And even more glad I’m not the only one who seriously procrastinates the little stuff… 🙂

  • Rachel Thueson
    May 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Good ideas! I like the 1 minute rule. The older I get the more I realize its easier to just get something done than to procrastinate it forever. Especially when it comes to picking up after messy kids and keeping a clean house. 🙂

  • Ashley Ponder
    May 25, 2016 at 5:58 am

    I loved this post! I am a huge fan of hers. I’m an obliger and I have learned new ways to best work this about myself. I’m actually working on that right now. I love the power hour and I need to incorporate that into my life and make it a new habit. I could even possibly do a power half and just work hard for a half hour.

  • Launa Darias
    May 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Erica- I always love your posts! This was such a great read.

    • Erica Layne
      May 25, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Launa! You know I love writing them! 😉

  • Mary
    May 26, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Really good tips! Especially #1 – my husband also feels little accountability to others, he just lets God lead and doesn’t worry about the rest. Trying to get there! I’ve written quite a few posts about how to be happy on my blog, like this: http://simplynatureplusnurture.com/2015/10/28/how-to-be-happy/

    • Erica Layne
      May 27, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      He sounds like a great guy to be doing life with, Mary! I’m glad you enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  • Jules
    May 28, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I just finished Rubin’s Happier at Home and I will be reading Better Than Before this summer. I love her writing/thoughts/ideas!

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  • Aimee @ Whispers of Worth
    September 18, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I’m currently reading Happier at Home; I suggested it for our book club. I love Rubin’s work; this is a great summary!

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