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Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

My experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits

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Like Jung and Wharton, Do You Remember When You First Knew Yourself?

January 6th, 2015

Episode 15 of 399 episodes

In my writing about habits and happiness, I keep coming back to the same idea: to shape our habits, to build our happiness, we have to start with a knowledge of ourselves — our own nature, our own interest, our own temperament. It sounds so easy to know yourself — after all, you hang out with yourself all day! But it’s very, very challenging. We’re so distracted by how we wish we were, or by what think we ought to be, or by what other people expect from us…we lose touch with what’s actually true. The first step in self-knowledge is self-consciousness. I was struck by these two stories, by two great minds: Carl Jung and Edith Wharton. They both remembered exactly the moment when they knew themselves for the first time. In a 1959 “Face to Face” TV interview, Carl Jung describes: That was in my eleventh year. There I suddenly—on my way to school, I stepped out of a mist. It was just as if I had been in a mist, walking in a mist, and I stepped out of it, and I knew, “I am. I am what I am.” And then I ...

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