Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hey, everyone. It's me, Marie, and I'm recording this in LA. I'm here with Josh and Kuma and we're hunkering down and staying inside due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, I hope you and your family are well. I did want to set some context with this interview, though, because when we recorded and sat down with the incredible Gretchen Rubin, coronavirus wasn't a thing yet, so you won't hear any mention of the current state of affairs in this conversation. And, to be honest, my team and I went back and forth on whether or not we should even release this. But then I thought to myself: I think we all need a break from the news. This conversation is incredible and I really hope it will inspire you. Now, as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, I want you to know that we created something incredible for you. It's actually a coronavirus support guide and it's over at marieforleo.com/blog. Or you can just google my name, Marie Forleo, and coronavirus support, and you'll find it. I'm also going live a lot more on Instagram. I'm @marieforleo and I want to be a source of support and love and inspiration for you during this time. So come follow me over there. Finally, take good care of yourself. I'll be here for you week after week of new content and connections and don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything you'd want me to know. With that, enjoy the episode and I'll see you soon. Hey, it's Marie Forleo and welcome to another episode of MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast. Now, if you're interested in a happier life, and let's be honest, who isn't? My guest today has made it her mission to help us all find the way. Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project, Outer Order Inner Calm, The Four Tendencies, and Better Than Before, among others. Her books have sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 30 languages. On her award winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses happiness and good habits with her sister Elizabeth Craft. She's been interviewed by Oprah, walked arm and arm with the Dalai Lama, and been an answer on Jeopardy. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. Gretchen, thank you so much for being here. I'm so happy to be talking to you again. Yeah. This is a long time coming. Yeah. So, I want to go back in time. So, you started your career in law and were actually clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when you decided you wanted to be a writer. And I feel like there's so many people in our audience right now, every different age, from all parts of the world, who find themselves in a situation like that. Meaning they want to make a big career change. So, can you take us back there and talk to us about just what that process was like? The thinking, the actions, all of it. Well I went to law school for all the wrong reasons. I was like, "I'm good at research and writing. It'll keep my options open. It's great preparation. I can always change my mind later." So, I went to law school, not because I had a passionate desire to be a lawyer, but just because it felt like a logical thing to do since I didn't know what to do with myself. And I was very fortunate. I had a great run in law. I was editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal, which is the Yale version of the law review. And I was clerking for Sandra Day O'Connor, which is this amazing opportunity. And one of the things about me that's still true and was true then is that I will become really preoccupied with a subject. I'll get intensely interested in something and just want to spend all my time thinking about it. So, I just went through this with color. I went through it with placebo, like I get very interested in something. And at this time I was out having a walk one day and I was on the Capitol Hill and I looked up at the Capitol dome against the sky and I just asked myself this rhetorical question, "What am I interested in that everybody in the world is interested in?" And I thought, "Well, power, money, fame, sex." And it was like, "Power, money, fame, sex." And I became intensely preoccupied with researching the ideas of power, money, fame, sex. Which to me seemed very linked. They still do. And I was just doing research and I was staying late at work and doing research and if you're a Supreme Court Justice you can actually check out books from the library of Congress. So, I would check out books for Justice O'Connor. My favorite book was Deep in The Heart of Texas, the true story of three Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders who are sisters. It's an amazing book about fame. And I just got more and more interested in it and I was writing and taking notes as I was going, as I was thinking through the subjects. And finally it dawned on me, this is the kind of thing somebody would do if they were going to write a book. And I had never thought about being a writer myself because I always thought either you wrote fiction or plays or poetry or you were a journalist or you wrote academic books. I didn't really think about creative nonfiction, which is what we would call it now. But it occurred to me, "Well, this could be a book." And then I thought, "Well, maybe I could write that book." And then I went to the bookstore and got something called How to Write and Sell Your Nonfiction Book Proposal. And I just followed the directions and skip ahead, I got an agent and got a book deal and that's how I did it. So for me it wasn't as much leaving something as going towards something. Just this desire to write this book. And it wasn't even like, "I want to be a writer." It was like, "I want to write this book." Interesting. Yeah. You know in Star Wars where the Millennium Falcon is getting pulled in by the tractor beam and they're like, "We have to go. We can't resist or it's going to pull us apart." Yeah. That's how I felt. At a certain point I was like, "I would rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer. I have to give this a shot. I have to try and either fail or succeed. But if I get another law job, I'm afraid I won't try. I won't do it." And so... Did you have any inner conflict around leaving law or no? The pull to write this book was so strong that you were clear for yourself. I was very clear for myself. But again, I was married, so my husband was working. It was a pretty… And I did feel like if I was ever going to do it, this was the time because it was the lowest risk time because we were moving from Washington D.C. to New York, I didn't have a job. And so it was a great open transition. And I remember thinking to myself, "What more am I waiting for?" What sign from the universe am I waiting for it? If there's ever a time, the university is being like, "Right now." And I thought if I wait, this moment could pass. And so at that point I really was like, "This is the time." But there was a day where, because my husband left law at the same time, he went to into finance, and we had just been married and we got the letter from the New York Bar Association asking us to pay our bar fees cause we'd both been admitted to the New York Bar. It's expensive. It's a lot of money. And I remember saying to him, "Oh, are we going to pay our bar fees?" And he's like, "Why would we pay our bar fees? No." And I'm like, "Okay, we're doing this." Turns out you can go back into the bar if you just pay and like do some courses, but at the time I felt like it was really... That was it. That was it. And I was like, "Okay, this is happening. I'm going to do this." Wow. So I didn't feel... You didn't feel conflict. No. You just went for it. I didn't really. What was the hardest part for you about that transition? Because obviously as an attorney, you are quite experienced at research and writing. So, was putting the proposal together and getting that out into the world, did you find that difficult? Or because you were trained in some of those aspects, you were like, "Okay, this is just another way to express myself." That part wasn't as hard. The parts where I had trouble with it was where there were no directions. If I could look up a book and it's like, "This is what a proposal looks like." I'm like, "Okay, I can do that." But a lot of it is what are the unspoken assumptions of this career? And how do people behave? And there are all these agencies, how do I understand them? Like for me it was like I knew nothing and I had so many great credentials as a lawyer. I had many feathers in my cap and this, I didn't have a clip, I didn't have a short story, I'd never published anything, I had nothing. So, so part of it was just being nobody in a big world that I didn't understand. I liked it when it was this is what, like, "Write a sample chapter." I'm like, "I can write it. I'll take my shot." That felt clearer. It was more of the... The unknown. The unknown, and there's things that people can't even explain to you. You just have to get in there. I feel like even now I'm still always trying to figure it out. What are the assumptions? What do we know? What works? Well, I know even the first time you and I spoke, which was at... I think it was at a Penguin Random House event, right? Yeah. For BEA, the big book expo. That's right. And one of the things that struck me most about you, because I've heard about your work, I've admired your work, I've known about you for years. And I was like, "Oh, we're finally getting a chance to hang out and have a discussion." I was like, "How have we never met before? It seems strange." I know. Sad, it was. But one of the things that struck me about you is how many great questions you asked. So, I feel like that's just such an amazing trait that's about you. Your curiosity and constantly asking great questions. So, the reason I want to go into this is because one of the things that I've learned from writing my book and talking about it on the show for a couple of years was how many people in our audience also want to write books, are writing books, have written books. So, I always think it's a good process. And there was a stat quote in the New York Times that up to 80% of people believe they've got a book in them. Oh, interesting. Yes. Yes. So, that's where I wanted to go there. So, the first big blockbuster book, if I'm not mistaken, was Happiness Project. Yes, that was the one. But like many people, that was my fourth book. So, I had worked very hard for 10 years to become an overnight sensation. People were like, "It's your first book." I'm like, "No. That was my fourth book." It was your fourth book. My fourth book. But it was the one that popped in the industry. It did, yeah. And I had done, at that time, I had had a blog to create an audience for the book before it came out. That was unusual at the time to do something like that. But yeah, that was the book. For a lot of people that's where they became aware of my work. And for the Happiness Project, this is a personal question of mine, did you have that idea and then pitch that book and sell it or did you have the idea, do your actual year experiment, and then write the book about it? When I got the idea I was just going to do it for myself. Like I said, I get really interested in things. So, I'm constantly going off in these weird directions. Oh, I'm so interested in perfume and I'll just march off and spend all this time researching something. So, at first it was like, "I should have a happiness project. Could I make myself happier? What would you do to make yourself happier?" I was just doing all this research. I was finishing up my book, my biography of JFK, at the time. So, it started out as a research project that was just for me and me thinking about, "Well, what would I do, what can move the needle, what would I experiment with?" And then it just got bigger and bigger and got more and more interesting, and I was like, "Wow, this is taking over my life." And then finally I was like, "Well maybe this should be my next book. This should be my next book project." But it was interesting, it was unusual for nonfiction because usually, and maybe people don't know, usually with nonfiction, you write a proposal and you sell it off the proposal and maybe a sample chapter. Whereas with fiction usually you've written most of it or all of it. Especially if you're just starting out. And for this book I would talk to people about it and they didn't get it. They would make these suggestions to me and I'm like... Somebody was like, "Oh, you really like Benjamin Franklin. Why don't you do a thing where you apply all of Benjamin Franklin's rules?"