If you’re looking for inspiration to be happier at work, there’s perhaps no better muse than Gretchen Rubin.
The prolific author has dedicated years to cracking the code to happiness (“The Happiness Project”), making your home and space more welcoming (“Happier at Home”) and creating better habits (“Better Than Before”). With her new book, “The Four Tendencies,” she examines how people respond differently to expectations — their own and others’ — and how they can get past that to really make a change.
So we took a look inside Rubin’s office to see just what makes the expert on happiness feel her best at work.
Get the Right Tools for the Job
Rubin got a second monitor for her computer and loved it so much, she got a third. Then she got a headset to make phone calls less taxing, so she can walk around while she talks.
“I try to stand up when I’m on the phone because sitting is the new smoking,” she says. “I remember the first time I saw a lay person using one I just laughed because I thought it looked ridiculous, but now I love my headset.”
One of the most useful office fixtures has been a simple one: a book weight. “I spend a lot of time typing notes out of books, so it’s one of those things that’s weirdly super useful to me.”
Take Your Kids to Work
You can do it subtly. Rubin loves the colorful folders she had her daughter label a couple of years ago.
“I used to have these old, shabby file folders and then I thought, Why not get pretty ones?, because beautiful tools make work a joy,” she says. “I love seeing the bright beautiful pattern and also I love to see her little girl handwriting every time I pull the folder out.
Rubin’s mother-in-law helped her remember a thrilling moment when she had both a hardback and a paperback on The New York Times’ best-seller list.
“She cut it out of the newspaper and framed it with these beautiful bluebirds of happiness for me,” she says. “Every time I look at it, it makes me remember a very exciting professional moment and it’s also a good reminder of how thoughtful my mother in law was to me.”
Embrace Your Side Passion
“One of the joys of my life is children’s literature and young adult literature,” Rubin says. It was while she was working on “The Happiness Project” that she realized she needed to make that a bigger part of her life and started a children’s literature group. (She’s now in three.)
To celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary, the group gave her an original Quentin Blake drawing from Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” that hangs in her office.
Pay Attention to Your Senses
Rubin loves to embrace the sense of smell — something she says most of us tend to tune out. “If you pay attention to it, it’s such a source of pleasure. There’s no expense, there’s no calories. You can’t bookmark it. You just have to experience it right now. So I love tapping into that as a little treat. It’s just a little, tiny delicious treat.”
Rubin has a perfume collection and loves scented candles, particularly a gardenia-scented one by Frederic Melle.
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