Gretchen Rubin’s Daily Tricks for Staying Happy + MORE

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What Does It Really Mean to Be Happy? 6 Experts Explain


When you go to your “happy place,” you might picture yourself relaxing on a beach in Bali, fitting back into a pair of favorite old jeans, or landing that promotion you’ve been gunning for. But here’s the thing: Elation, achievement, and success aren’t the same as the warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness—and mixing them up may actually bum you out. That’s why we endeavored to learn what happiness really means, by interviewing a handful of people who have devoted years of their lives to studying it. Read about what their research and real-life experience has taught them; then use their wisdom and advice to boost your own joy. (Spoiler alert: Those old jeans will do more good in the giveaway bin.)

RELATED: 7 Self-Care Tips That Will Make You Happier

“Happiness isn’t something you feel. It’s something you do.”

I used to think I had a clear idea of what happiness looks like. I came to the U.S. at 13. My family emigrated from Russia, and we lived outside of Detroit. It was a really rough time, especially because I didn’t speak English. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and self-doubt. The only time I felt OK was when I achieved anything—the day I was moved from remedial English, the day I moved out of the projects.

I thought, “This is how I’m going to be happy: I’m going to achieve things.” I lived my life with this attitude. I’ll be happy when I get into a good college. When I graduate. When I move to New York. When I get married. When I’m able to take care of my family…

I was always proud of my achievements, yet the happiness bubble would eventually pop. I thought I wasn’t doing enough to gain the privilege of feeling good, but I hit a wall, burned out, and couldn’t push anymore.

When I stumbled onto research about gratitude nine years ago, I thought it was a bunch of BS. Saying three things I was grateful for would make me happy? Ridiculous. If I was grateful for everything, I wouldn’t work for anything. Still, I decided to do a 30-day experiment. I told my husband and daughter that each day, I’d write down something I was grateful for and say “thank you” to someone at least once.

RELATED: Here’s How Feeling Grateful Can Improve Your Life

The punch line is obvious. I noticed a difference right away. It’s not like I became a happy-go-lucky person, but I started to find joy in small, everyday moments. Tiny things, like my daughter running up to give me a hug. Coming into my living room and noticing the light hitting a vase of tulips. Even driving to work in minimal traffic and suddenly enjoying the commute.

Before I began practicing gratitude, I wasn’t present for those moments. I only stepped on them before running away. Happiness, I now realize, is not something you feel, but something you do. We don’t have to earn it, or be “good enough…

Gretchen Rubin’s Daily Tricks for Staying Happy


What inspired you to write about the power of decluttering?

Your space reflects you. It projects your identity to the world. If you look around and everything you own is useful or beloved, you may feel more integrated with yourself.

Any advice for getting started?

Adopt the one-minute rule. Anything you can do in less than a minute, do without delay. Throw away a wrapper. File an email. Hang up your coat. That will get rid of that scum of clutter on the surface of life. And over time, you start to see a big difference.

RELATED: I Tried Marie Kondo's Tidying Up Method—and It Had a Serious Impact on My Happiness

Once you’ve cleared the clutter, then what?

It’s not enough to get rid of stuff that’s dragging us down; we also need things that lift us up. We want to be delighted in our spaces. You can add whatever you want to your space to make it beautiful—just choose those things purposefully.

What else do you do to feel happier?

Relationships are most important to me. I’m in four book groups because I love to see friends and I love books. I also have this habit with my sister and parents called “update”: About once a week, we send a super-boring email about whatever’s going on, just to make ourselves feel more connected.

RELATED: 25 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person

What’s your morning routine like?

The first thing I do is kiss my husband. He’s usually still asleep, but I’m like, “I want to kiss my husband before I check my phone.” Then most days I go for a long walk in Central Park. It’s exercise, it’s nature, it’s light on my face resetting my circadian rhythm. It’s the greatest thing.

How about when you’re feeling blue—how do you recover?

Do 10 jumping jacks! I tell my daughters this all the time. Or run down the stairs. It makes you feel goofy and energized.

Rubin's new book, Outer Order, Inner Calm, is out now.

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This 6-Step Yoga Flow Will Open Up Your Tight Hips


On average, we sit for about 12 hours every day. “Yikes” is right. “Whether it’s at a desk or in the car, when people sit for most of the day, they may develop tight hip flexors. These muscles attach to the lumbar spine and could create lower-back pain when they are shortened,” explains physical therapist Erica Anne Meloe, owner of Velocity Physiotherapy in New York City and author of Why Do I Hurt?

So what can you do to help those suffering hip muscles? First, make sure you’re getting up and walking around throughout the day—researchers suggest at least once every 30 minutes. But to further help, try this hip-opening sequence created specifically for Health readers by Peloton yoga instructor Kristin McGee. “These poses take a 360-degree approach, helping to stretch and strengthen the hips from all angles—front, side, and back,” says McGee.

Run through them three to four times a week, and you’ll feel so much looser.

RELATED: How Mindfulness Can Make Your Workouts More Effective

Cow Face pose

Get onto all fours. Cross right leg over left, then sit back down between your heels or on a block, with knees stacked. Extend left arm toward ceiling, then bend left elbow, bringing palm to touch the center of upper back; then bend right arm behind back, trying to grasp fingers of left hand. Stay here for 5–8 breaths, breathing evenly; then switch sides and repeat. To make it more comfortable, you can also sit on a blanket instead of a block.

RELATED: 15 Stretches You Should Do Every Day

Pigeon pose

From Cow Face pose, slide right leg forward onto the floor, placing right shin parallel to the front of the mat, and slide left knee on floor behind you. Lower left thigh to mat with top of left foot facing down. Stay upright, with torso over hips and hips square to the front of the mat. Remain here for 5–8 full breaths, then bring left foot toward right and repeat on opposite side.

RELATED: 5 Best Yoga Poses for Runners

Bound Angle pose

Sit on mat with soles of feet together and knees bent out to sides. Interlace fingers around feet. Inhaling, press knees down toward mat while sitting up tall; bow forward slightly to get a deeper stretch. Stay here for 8–10 breaths.

Ankle to Knee pose

From Bound Angle pose, cross right knee over left ankle and bring bottom leg in so right ankle is over left knee, with shins stacked. Bring both palms to floor in front of you, leaning forward slightly. Hold here for 5–8 breaths.

Half Reclining Hero’s pose

Kneel on mat with knees together. Sit back on heels, and then extend right leg straight out in front of you. Slide left foot slightly wider than knee with the top of left foot on the floor and big toe angled in, allowing butt to rest on floor. Then place hands on floor behind you and lean back, bringing elbows and forearms to floor behind you. From here, continue to lower all the way to the floor or as far as you can go without pain or discomfort; cross elbows overhead…

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What Does It Really Mean to Be Happy? 6 Experts
Gretchen Rubin’s Daily Tricks for Staying
This 6-Step Yoga Flow Will Open Up Your Tight

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