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ZAK: Before Gretchen Rubin was a best-selling author on the subject of happiness and habits and human nature, she was a lawyer. And not just any lawyer. She graduated from Yale Law School and went on to clerk for supreme court justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
GRETCHEN: And what I realized about the Supreme Court is I was surrounded by people who loved law. They were reading law journals for fun. They wanted to talk about cases at happy hour, during lunch hour, you know, any chance they got they just loved it and I thought I want to do an excellent for Justice O'Connor, I want to do the best job I possible can but I don't want to spend one extra minute on this than I have to and I thought, in the end I can't keep up with these people who honestly love it.
ZAK: And that leads to her advice for today.
GRETCHEN: One of the challenges of our lives is to know ourselves and you would think, it's so easy to know myself. I just hang out with myself all day long but it can be hard to be truthful with ourselves and really see what's in the mirror and so sometimes it's helpful to think about questions that get at the truth indirectly and I think an indirect question that's very helpful is whom do I envy? Envy is a very unpleasant emotion. We often don't want to admit to ourselves or to other people that we do feel envy but it's a very helpful emotion because what it's show us is that somebody has something that we wish we had for ourselves and that's a very, very useful thing to know. And in my case I remember reading...you know how you get those alumni magazines from your college? And I was reading about all the different people in my class and I noticed some people had really interesting law jobs and I was like, uhhhh, that sounds great. And then some people had really interesting writing jobs and I was sick with envy. And I thought, well, I should learn something from that because those are the people that I envy. They're the ones that have something that I wish that I had myself.
ZAK: So next time you're banging your head against the wall, thinking to yourself, what do I actually want to do in this life? Maybe a better question or a more helpful question in that moment, is whom do I envy? So good. Thank you, Gretchen Rubin.
ZAK: This is the third episode Gretchen has been on. The first two I got great feedback about. You should check them out. I put the links in our show notes. But here's an excerpt from Gretchen's episode called Doing Without Delay.
GRETCHEN: Anything you can do in less than a minute, do without delay. If you can hang up your coat instead of throwinG it over the chair. If you can put a document back in the folder. If you can put a dish in the dishwasher, go ahead and do without delay and what this does is it gets rid of this scum of clutter on the surface of everyday life. And for most people outer order does contribute to inner calm and this is a way that you can create more outer order without spending a lot of time or energy dealing with it. You just do it as you go.
ZAK: If you have some advice, I would love to hear it. Give me a call on the hotline at 844-935-BEST. And if you want more Gretchen Rubin you should check out her podcast. It's called Happier. She hosts it with her sister, Liz Craft. It's so good.