Podcast #5: Embrace Good Smells; Remember That Working Is One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Procrastination.

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having so much fun with our new podcast,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

I was in Los Angeles last weekend, as part of my book tour for Better Than Before, which was published last week. (Buy early, buy often!) It was great to have a chance to visit Elizabeth and her family — they live in Encino. While I was there, Elizabeth and I got a professional photo taken of ourselves, for the podcast, and we also managed to record two episodes. Usually, we don’t get to be in the same room as we talk, so it was great to be able to see each other for the conversation.

We also recorded an episode that will be a little bit…different.  I’m dying to see how that one turns out.

As I’ve been doing events for Better Than Before many people have told me that they’re enjoying the podcast. Thanks so much, and thanks for listening!

Here’s what we discuss in today’s episode:

Try This at Home: Embrace good smells. How I love good smells. The unconventional perfumer I mention is Christopher Brosius’s CB I Hate Perfumes.shrinetosmell Here’s a photo of my Shrine to Smell. What are some of your favorite smells?

Happiness Stumbling Block: It turns out that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. One big theme of Better Than Before is the question of how to use habits to avoid procrastination. WorkingIsOneOfTheMostDangerousForms_124851

Listener Question: “What’s something that can be done every morning that will guarantee a happier start to the day?”

Gretchen’s Demerit: I can’t make myself check my voice-mail messages on my land-line phone. It drives me crazy.

Elizabeth’s Gold StarInform Fitness Gym. I’m a believer, now Elizabeth is a believer! It’s a gym where we do high-intensity strength-training. The form of training is called “Super Slow.”

1pixGretchenRubinwithAndyBowersBonus Gold Star: When Elizabeth and I were recording, we got to see Andy Bowers, the brilliant Chief Content Officer of Panoply. Gold Star for Andy, who has made our entree into the world of podcasting so fun and easy.

This week, we had our first advertiser! Very exciting. Check out Framebridge — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge offer.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).

Each week, we give  a “Try This at Home” suggestion, for some easy habit you can try, as part of your ordinary routine, to boost your happiness—something like setting an alarm to signal your bedtime, or using the one-minute rule, to help yourself stay on top of small nagging tasks.

We also suggest questions to help you “Know Yourself Better”—like “Whom do you envy?” and “Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter in your work style?”—and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks,” those small, seemingly insignificant parts of daily life that drag us down—everything from the problem of the Evil Donut-Bringer to the fact that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

We “Grill the Guest,” consider “Listener Questions,” and finally, we get even more personal, and each of us either gives ourselves a “Demerit” for a mistake we made that week, that affected our happiness, or awards a “Gold Star” to someone or something that deserves recognition.

We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. Instructions here.

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If you want to listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Tell us what you think! Drop us a line at @gretchenrubin, @elizabethcraft, Facebook, podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or call 774-277-9336. Or just add your comment to this post.

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Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!

  • Smell is such a powerful thing! A few years ago, my husband and I were traveling & stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn. When we got into our room, memories of my grandparents flooded my mind. I figured out why – they used to stay at a Holiday Inn when they would visit us! The smell of the room was exactly the same. So now when I travel, I search for that smell again.

    Aromatherapy is also very powerful! I’ve recently begun diffusing oils in my house. Lavender helps me to sleep better and a combo of lemon and peppermint get me going in the morning.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, the sense of smell is so evocative.

  • Kate

    I love the podcasts! It’s fun to hear your sister after reading so much about her on the blog and in your books; and I really like the “try this at home” section!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! Thanks so much.

  • KD

    Hi Gretchen, I love the podcast! I use it as a Friday morning treat while I’m getting ready for work!

    I’ve had great success with your suggestion to set an alarm to go to bed! I’m turning out the light two hours earlier than I used to! I’ve now set an alarm to remind me to pack up & leave work as I’m often involved in something & stay too late!

    My question for the podcast is how to break the habit of “one more”, as in “I’ll just play one more more game of Trivia Crack, I’ll only read one more chapter”. I think this habit is part of why I stay up too late!

    I’m looking forward to starting the new book this weekend! All the best to you & your sister!

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s great to hear! Thanks so much for letting us know.

      And great question – that’s something that many people struggle with, I know.

  • Trixie

    My husband still was partially awake last night while your podcast was on, and when we woke up this morning, he said something like, “Kiss in the morning, jump up and down, and what else are we supposed to do?”

    Another free mood booster is listening to music I love. It can turn my day around.

    Also like KD, we have a problem with “one more” Trivia Crack game.

  • Lorna

    I am loving your podcasts and your new book which I am also listening to! Alongside ‘Joyous Health’ I truly feel I am finally becoming the person I want to be! Thank you!

    So excited you like CB Perfumes too. I am hooked on Burning Leaves for the autumn and A Room With a View for all other times. So so different from regular perfumes that give me a headache.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Penelope Schmitt

    I was SO happy to hear your little rants about not taking the messages from your land line phone. I don’t either, and it makes me feel vaguely guilty, but I know that anyone who truly knows me, knows my cell number, and they can call and leave a message there. I also feel guilty about keeping that land line . . . but I have not figured out how to rationalize all my phone, cable, security and internet services yet. One of those multi-boomerang tasks that lurks, dreaded, in the background.

  • Just discovered your podcast today and downloaded all your previous episodes! I love listening to them on my iPhone as I’m walking my dogs! I was very interested to hear about Inform Fitness Gym. I would love to hear more about your fitness routine. Do you do Inform once a week? Are you mixing in other physical activities on other days?

    • gretchenrubin

      I do strength-training once a week, yoga once a week, and go to the gym for a non-demanding cardio workout a few times a week. Plus lot of walking.

  • Lisa

    I’m intrigued by the concept of “working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination” – I think I know what you mean but not sure – could you explain please?

  • I love your new podcast! My question is about curating a “digital diet” — how do you limit the time you spend online, and identify when you are doing valuable research vs. falling down a rabbit hole?

    • gretchenrubin

      Great question!

      I talk about this a lot in Better Than Before…it’s a habit that many people are working on.

  • Winnie Dolderer

    So glad to find your podcast! I heard Gretchen on another podcast talking about starting this one with her sister. Lots of fun advise and hints, and love the length on the podcast (not too long). I smiled when I heard about the scents, as I find some really make me feel calmer, or happy or bring back happy memories when I need them. Funny thing, I got a Speedstick that I keep in a draw when I want to remember my late husband. I find it brings happy feelings and memories to the forefront for me on special dates that could be hard, but just smelling it for a second makes the day better somehow.

  • Sarah Rune

    “Embrace good smells” has brought me more happiness than I would have thought! I take my time washing my hands to enjoy the smell of nice soap, I am sure to smell the ingredients at mealtime to get more pleasure from eating, and I’m lighting more nice-smelling candles around the house which have been sitting there dormant for years.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific—that’s so great to hear.

  • HGert

    Book recommendation for Gretchen that I had to share as soon as I heard your segment on Embrace Good Smells: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Nichole Persing

        I just read this book & immediately thought of you Gretchen! It was so so good!

  • Hilary Knecht

    I just started listening to this and as a food scientist, I *loved* this episode. For the longest time, I kept a little jar of Grape Kool-Aid flavor on my desk and I loved to periodically breathe it in. It’s like summertime and childhood all in one lovely package. I also love the smell of mint in my yard. Everyone urged me NOT TO PLANT MINT IN THE YARD but I still love it. Since it does spread everywhere, whenever my husband mows, it smells minty 🙂

  • Katie Hendrychs

    I just discovered you and am working through the podcasts from the beginning. I love what you have to say about enjoying smells! I do this very intentionally in a few different places. I live in the midwest, so it’s always a pleasure to actually smell things after a long, cold winter. My daily run brings me past a few places I can really enjoy specific scents. Each available opportunity in April, I run by a planter with a few hyacinth plants. I take the time to stop running, bend down, and take a deep whiff or two of that lovely scent. In May, I run by a different spot with a few lilac bushes. I breathe deeply and take a moment to slow down and enjoy spring. You were so right about the pleasure of enjoying good smells. Thank you for all the common-sense tips. I love your show!

  • Carol Elizabeth

    Finding lots of good useful info in these podcasts. Thanks. I live in New York and am curious about Inform Fitness. I’m 50 and in decent cardio shape but am not at all strong. Would I be out of my depth with something like that? Are they welcoming to everyone, as far as you can tell? Thanks.

    • gretchenrubin

      Oh yes, they can work with people of any strength level. Or also with injuries, can work around.

  • michelle

    i love the smell of tomato leaf candles!

  • Olivia Brubaker

    Hi Gretchen,
    I have an idea that might help with your voicemail problem, although I’m guessing someone has already recommended this to you. There are now a lot of services that transcribe your voicemails for you and could send you an email with the transcribed message. (Even if the transcription wasn’t perfect, it would give you a very good idea of what the message said – and may give you a few laughs as well). For example, we have a VOIP phone (I don’t know that much about them but ours looks like a landline phone but the calls are transmitted via the internet) and it has an online interface where you can listen to and delete messages online. Ours doesn’t have a transcription feature, but I’m sure there are lots that do! Or maybe there are even services that are compatible with a landline phone. Implementing the new phone or technology would be a lot of work, but maybe it would be worth it! Good luck!