Podcast: Getting More Sleep, Resisting Strong Temptations, and Why It’s OK To Be Boring

I’m very excited to announce the second episode of the new weekly podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

One thing that makes this podcast especially fun is that I’m doing it with my sister the sage, Elizabeth Craft.

So what will you hear us discuss, 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!

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:

Try This at Home: Set an alarm to help yourself get to bed on time.

Know Yourself Better: Are you an “abstainer” or a “moderator” when it comes to resisting a strong temptation? (Spoiler alert, I’m a 100% abstainer.) Not sure? Take this quiz.

Samuel-Johnson-readingThe quotation I mention, from eighteenth-century essayist Samuel Johnson, is when a young friend urged him “to take a little wine,” Dr. Johnson explained, “I can’t drink a little, child; therefore I never touch it.Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.”

Listener Question: ‘What was your biggest misconception about happiness before you wrote your first book about it?”

Demerit: Elizabeth admits that she should’ve re-scheduled an important school interview, because her husband was recovering from the flu — but she didn’t, because she so badly wanted to cross the interview off the to-do list.

Gold Star: I give a gold star to our mother, for her idea about the email “updates” that my mother, father, Elizabeth and I now send to each other. Our motto: It’s okay to be boring!

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

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

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.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

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.

Be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!

  • HEHink

    As someone not as tech savvy as many, I just want to note that by following the directions given, I was easily able to subscribe to your podcasts. I’m downloading them to my phone so I can listen while driving to or from work. I enjoyed the first one, and was pleased when the second one showed up, as expected, on my phone today without any further effort on my part. I’ll look forward to hearing it!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! I’m so happy to hear that the instructions are helpful. It’s one of those rare things that’s easier to do than you’d expect.

  • Donna

    I enjoy the podcasts. I like hearing sisters, who are each so different, tolerant of the differences. I’m with Gretchen on the luxury of early bedtime. My sister is a night owl and I find that so strange. Why drag around sleep deprived for eating and TV into the night? She loves it! I enjoy learning about our differences and ways to accept those differences.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I tend to go to bed early and get up early. I always get enough sleep unless I have insomnia from worrying about something or anticipating something. My husband says that he’s a night owl, but I think that he just thinks that he is because he is a bartender and works nights. When he has off, he tends to go to bed fairly early. Since he usually goes to bed late, and still wants to have some time in the morning to do things, he compromises by taking a nap after lunch. It doesn’t totally erase the sleep deficit, but it helps a lot.

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    Hmm…being boring means being consistent and reliable. So overall, I give being a ‘plain vanilla’ person a big thumbs up! ;o)

  • Vanessa

    Hi, I really love the podcasts. You and your sister have a really nice rapport and easy way with each other. My only suggestion…. in your email and blog updates about the podcasts, I would prefer not to know so much detail. Once I read your email/blog post, I already know so much I almost feel like I don’t need to listen to the podcast. And I would really rather listen to the podcast and be more surprised. So for instance, instead of telling me exactly what your mom did to earn the gold star in your blog, maybe you just give us a teaser and say you’ll share something your mom did to earn a gold star that brought the family closer together. I’m a huge fan, so if you choose not to listen to my advice, I’ll just try not to read the blog/email when a new podcast comes out. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Ah, good suggestion!


      Thanks, that’s very helpful.

      • Deirdre Keating

        I had the opposite response. I came to the site after listening, hoping to find more details. I’d like to lift this update idea for my large family, but wonder, what are the expectations? Are there any? Do some people give short daily updates or just weekly? I can imagine potential issues as some siblings are likely to update often and others very rarely.

        • gretchenrubin

          Just give it a try, see how it goes.

          Not everyone has to update the same amount.

          Okay to be boring! No guilt!

          Often we don’t respond to others’ updates. It’s just about staying up to date.

          • mb in nc

            I also had the same response as Deirdre, and after listening to episode 11 where there was an update on this gold star, I decided that I really want to implement this with my family… but want to give them a little more meat/instructions. I think you need a whole podcast/blogpost on this topic– maybe the staying in touch topic…. it is a hard one for me living away from my inlaws! Any more bullet points/rules/thoughts about email updates would be AWESOME and helpful to get us started (I like rules…. obliger here?). Thank you Elizabeth and Gretchen!!!

          • gretchenrubin

            There’s no right way or wrong way.

            Just what works for your group.

            We email each other every five to seven days, and rarely respond to the emails we get.
            I also send photos, especially of what my children are doing, another form of “update.”

  • Katie

    I totally get this moderator/abstainer thing! My boyfriend and I have lost a lot of weight, but it’s really awkward cause I’m a moderator, so can have loads of unhealthy food in the house and not eat it, but my boyfriend is an abstainer, so he can’t have anything in the house otherwise he’ll just eat it all, like literally a whole bar of chocolate.. seriously. Makes for awkward shopping trips haha.

    • gretchenrubin

      This is common source of disagreement among couples. It’s tough.

  • Mimi Gregor

    Gretchen — I thought you’d be happy to know that your podcasts have been mentioned in another blog that I read: http://www.thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/this-that-no-148/

    Since this is the second time she’s mentioned you (the first time was about your newest book that’s coming out), I’m assuming she’s a big fan!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! That’s so nice to hear.

  • Kate

    Gretchen, I absolutely love your podcasts! Podcasts were a big part of helping me maintain a new, healthy habit of going to the gym EVERY school day. It helps so, so much to have something I really enjoy to listening to. Your podcast is on the short list of podcasts that make the cut!! I have exercised every single school day of 2015, lost 10 pounds and am happier than ever.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific, thanks!

      And congratulations on such a major habit change.

  • Chris

    I too, really enjoy the podcast. I read the Happiness Project a few years ago and liked that also and gave copies to many friends.
    I was on your email list for a year or so but ,don’t know why,didn’t love it. Maybe a touch too much self promo ? But as I said,I am really enjoying the podcast. And I am on the must-make-bed team.It makes me feel productive even if it is a very small task. I think most people are in and out of their bedroom during the day (that is,if you work from home) and I couldn’t stand to see an unmade bed all day.
    Plus,it then becomes a great surface for putting stuff!

  • Hi lady’s, I just discovered the podcast and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The Abstainer versus moderator really struck a cord with me.

    I have been blogging abut personal finance for about a year and working really had on extreme (for me) frugality. For me, I was truly trying to be an abstainer when I am really a moderator. I think it was important, at the time, because I had credit card debt but now that I have no credit card debt and have become much better at budgeting and investing, I just ended up hitting this breaking point on this frugality.

    I am a pharmacist (8 years in college), and I was sick of denying myself some of the fruits of my labor. I have now been trying to find balance between paying off debt, investing but also enjoying some of life’s little luxuries now. This is now the objective of the blog- finding balance for myself between personal finance and really enjoying some of the money now that I have work hard to make.

    I think being more of a natural moderator, this will be much more in line with my person. I wrote a little blog post about this http://www.objectwealth.com/are-you-an-abstainer-or-a-moderator-the-importance-of-knowing-yourself/

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • shawn

    Love the blog! Love the book, too. Pre-ordered it, and am almost finished with it. Most helpful. I ended up listening to the podcast because I needed more info to decide if I was an upholder or a questioner. The quiz on your blog helped (still not sure, though). Just realized that this sounds just like a questioner with all of this extra research being required Guess that solves that 🙂 PS: Elizabeth, let the Candy Crush go, you will be so happy when you have tons of time for leisure reading. Mmmmmmmmm, reeaadddd.

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  • Siena

    I’m addicted to candy crush too, but I will 100% never ever buy more lives. Does that make me an abstainer, or a moderator? I would never stop playing if I bought more lives, so I guess abstainer?

  • Elizabeth Wolf

    I subscribed!

  • Carol

    Gretchen – I have been listening to your podcasts each week and thoroughly enjoy them! Especially the things that make two sisters get along, even though you come from different places. I mentioned your Update Email (“ok to be boring”) to my sister and brother. We decided to implement it with our mom but not tell her. We just send newsy short emails to all four of us every day and she is going along with it. We think she is so thrilled that she will never question our intentions! We are also spread out on both coasts! Keep it up!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! so great to hear it’s working for your family.

  • About Creativity

    Very good.

  • Diane

    One of the things that is helping me get more sleep is to use the “second wind” you taked about as the energy to get ready for bed. If I go when I am tired to-the-bone tired, I brush my teeth and that’s it. Now if I get a second wind, I still head for bed…but I have time & energy to wash and moisturize my face, brush AND floss my teeth, pluck my eyebrows, condition my curtitcules, etc. Use that second wind time for bed, not for another project which will keep you up late. If I still am feeling awake, I’l laid down in bed with a good book and get some precious reading time in.