Podcast: Make Your Bed, Resist the Evil Donut-Bringer, and Take a Hike.

Third episode! I’m having so much fun doing the new weekly podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin with my sister the sage, Elizabeth Craft.

It has been especially thrilling that so many people have listened already — at one point, we were #6 on iTunes! Yowza.

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:

Try This at Home: One of the easiest, most popular habits that will boost your happiness–and it’s not what you might expect. Make your bed. I have to say, this is something that people mention to me all the time.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Free food — especially at work. In this discussion, Elizabeth mentions the Abstainer vs. Moderator distinction, which we talked about in an earlier podcast — you can listen to that conversation, here.

Listener Question: Do you think that thinking about happiness makes you happier?

Demerit: I snarled at a security guard who asked to look in my bag. Sheesh. I feel terrible every time I think about it.

FrymanCanyonGold Star: Elizabeth gives a shout-out to L.A.’s Fryman Canyon. And here she is, about to set off — she’s got her headphones so she can listen to podcasts while she hikes. (That’s a good example of the Strategy of Pairing, by the way.)

If you listen, let us know — does making your bed make you happier, or not? Do you resent free food at work, or do you love it?

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.

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.

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.

Again, 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!

  • Melissa

    I like free food at work because it gives me a place to take all the bad stuff I would eat if it were sitting around my house, but can’t bear to throw away!

  • Natalie

    I love a neat bed. Unfortunately my young children like playing in it several times a day. I try not to get upset when I walk in and it’s messy yet again.

  • Gillian

    Your point about trying to avoid the temptation of the free food at the office detracting from your productivity is so accurate! I believe that we each have only so much discipline available to us – I call it the discipline budget. What you spend in one area is not available to spend in another. Some studies have shown this to be the case – e.g. a study of students who were allowed to indulge in some goodies on the table while studying fared better on their exams than those who were not allowed to have any of them. This is the case with goodies at the office – you spend the energy resisting the cake, leaving less of the discipline and focus available for the work at hand. I found this while I was working – if I decided I would not have a coffee in the afternoon, I couldn’t concentrate. I’d finally give in and get the coffee and before the first sip hit my stomach, I was right back to work with full focus. It obviously wasn’t the caffeine that solved the problem but giving in to the urge freeing up the attention.

    • gretchenrubin

      I love that phrase, your “discipline budget.” So true!

  • Mimi Gregor

    I can’t say whether making up the bed makes me happier or not, because we always make it. Knowing it was unmade would nag at me and make me feel as if I were schlepping around with bedhead, morning breath, and sweatpants all day — kind of skeevy and unkempt.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Just a comment about headphones and walking: I get it that this is a great pairing concept–but also a potential safety hazard. I would NEVER wear headphones when there was car traffic anywhere near, and even outdoors on a trail, I would also think that headphone talk in your ear could cause you to be less alert to your surroundings. I do listen to music in the car, but I can’t do audiobooks because they distract me from my driving. As a person trying to practice more mindfulness, this is one kind of double focus I avoid.

    That said, love to see a photo of Elizabeth and her outdoor walking landscape looks gorgeous!

  • Jen DiManno

    great podcast about making the bed. I to make my bed at home every day and also get pleasure from making the bed in a hotel! Another task that brings me great happiness at home is to make sure the kitchen and kitchen sink at it before I go to bed. There is something wonderfully calming about putting the kitchen in order before I end my day.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific —

  • Me

    I would be happy to subscribe if you made your podcast available on Android. Not everyone uses iTunes

    • gretchenrubin

      It is available on Android!

      Look in the right hand column for the “Subscribe to the Podcast” box, which has the button for Stitcher (which is for Android). Instructions on how to download the app and subscribe to the podcast here: http://www.gretchenrubin.com/podcast-subscription-instructions/

      Or you can use other platforms, too.

  • Nancy

    I love the new podcast. Even though I have been reading your blog for years, the podcast adds a new dimension: more personal, spontaneous, and funny.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks! that’s so nice to hear. Terrific!

      If you have the time and are so inclined, it’s a big help to us if you rate and/or review it. Listeners respect the views of other listeners!

  • Elle

    I’m enjoying your podcasts. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thank YOU! Happy listening!

  • Sara S.

    I really hate making my bed! I don’t know why, I just don’t want to do it. But I LOVE when it is made. I sleep better at night when I get into a made bed and it makes me feel more put together and, yes, happy, when I walk in during the day and see it made. I suppose it is one of those happiness-doesn’t-always-make-you-happy things, because I am unhappy making it, but much happier once it is made.

  • Jen C.

    While listening to this I look at my bed and shake my head. I need some changes around here starting with this bed. Haha. Thank you for this! Oh and the donut thing and stuff about giving something just for good, I finished reading The Happiness Project and I am giving it to someone who really wanted the book, for free! 🙂

  • Isin

    I love the podcasts, wonderful idea. Thanks for all your efforts.
    And I absolutely love making my ben. In fact I never thought the opposite. It is just a clean and fresh start to the say.

  • In the movie “Smart People,” Ellen Page’s type A character admonishes her slacker uncle, played by Thomas Haden Church, to make the bed because it “sets the tone for the day.” That line always runs through my head when I make my bed—and I do try to make my bed every day, primarily because it makes getting into bed at night more pleasant.

    But I also mentally rehearse the uncle’s slacker retort to Ellen Page’s character: “But how do you know what tone I was trying to set?” This way, I’m doing the slightly robotic chore while still retaining a sense of humor about the whole thing.

    • gretchenrubin


  • Brooke

    Regarding free food at work: You really need to know how much MEN PICK THEIR NOSES AND FACES before you consider eating free food. You may not realize the level of picking unless you work in an open office plan, but it’s constant. As girls we were told “don’t touch your face” but boys never heard this and have developed bad habits. So if you want to eat free food I’m not going to tell you not to, but just know that it’s tainted with scabs and boogers.

  • Ruth

    I enjoyed your comments about free food. Im wondering if you would feel differently if the food offerings were healthier. I have worked in the same unit for 3 years and one of my goals is to get my co workers to make smarter food choices (more fruits and veggies). I realized early on that most of them knew the principles of eating healthier but had not idea of what some of the choices were or even how to incorporate them in their daily meals. So, I often bring healthy snacks to share and now even those co-workers who used to bring donuts are opting for fresh fruits and vegetables to much one! There is no guilt in snacking in our office.

  • Katie Auer

    So funny bc my mom and I have this debate all the time. She’s a super – maker (pillows, decorations, etc ) and I’m hard pressed to just pull the covers up over the sheets. I HATE MAKING THE BED. It seems such a useless waste of energy, I’m just going to get back into it at night…

  • meseymou

    Thanks for the podcast instructions!

  • Donna H.

    Regarding the free treats at work, I make healthier treats like bread/muffins made with whole wheat and honey. Not sure the health aspect is appreciated. 🙂

  • Dawn K.

    I’m actually a bit offended at the “free food” issue. There’s nothing wrong with people bringing in food to share. If you don’t want it, don’t eat it! Or if the temptation is too strong, go get something else! There’s nothing wrong with avoidance. There are people who are genuinely good cooks, and that may be all that they have at that time to give. Labeling someone as an “evil donut-bringer” just because you think that there is too much temptation, that’s not fair, or happy, to the person who wants to bring it.
    Are you this against office potlucks?

  • Maureen K

    Love your podcast! I was never a bed-maker until about 5 years ago and now I make my bed every day without exception. I simply cannot *not* make my bed! And I’m definitely an abstainer.

    As for the “evil doughnut bringer” I feel like that discussion sort of missed the happiness mark. It’s a classic example of how we tend to let our happiness (or unhappiness) be dictated by other people or outside circumstances. The alternatives to the suffering brought about by the presence of doughnuts (or whatever other temptation) need to come from and be used by the person suffering. To quote Sylvia Boorstein, “my suffering is my suffering.” It’s really just not anyone else’s problem if the presence of doughnuts drives you to distraction.

  • Michelle

    This was the first “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” podcasts I’ve listened to. I enjoy and keep up with happiness research so I thought I’d give it a try. I was very surprised at how crabby it was…for a podcast on happiness. Maybe we would be happier if we let little things like people bringing free food, or airport security or hoops that we have to jump through to get into our gyms wash over us instead of focusing on how it inconveniences us.
    Eat the donut or don’t eat the donut. People shouldn’t stop bringing in food because one person doesn’t like them.

    • Rachel Bishop Parris

      I agree with you on the food thing. Sweet food makes your brain happy…therefore, make people happy if you want to bring in some doughnuts or bake some mini cupcakes for them. It shows you thought about them. : )

  • Cate St Pierre

    Like a few other commenters, the part of this episode that talked about free food at work missed the mark for me. I have been thinking about it for several days, and wanted to offer an idea. Though you didn’t exactly use these words, I think what you are trying to say is that you would like people to think about why they want to bring food to work. If they are trying to be kind and build a sense of community, you are asking people to think of other ways to build those relationships (bring toys, write notes, etc). Food and “treats” sometimes exclude coworkers who for personal reasons (diet, religion, allergies/disease, etc) do not want to eat at work, a situation that actually alienates instead of bonding. But, on the other hand, if people are bringing things to work so that it does not tempt them at home, you’d rather that they find another way to dispose of food they don’t want–I believe Elizabeth suggested throwing it away instead. May I add a suggestion? A box of candy was used as an example in the podcast. If the box is still sealed, instead of throwing it away, bring it to a food pantry or soup kitchen. There are ~49 million food insecure people in the United States. (http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/our-research/map-the-meal-gap/child-food-insecurity-executive-summary.html) I know a lot of people donate canned beans and other staples, which are needed, but why not give that candy to people who might really enjoy a sweet treat instead of throwing it away? Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts. Whether I agree with every word or not, it certainly got me thinking about your point (which is one worth thinking about) and working on a positive slant to it. Keep podcasting!

  • I’m binge listening to these podcasts, having only just discovered the blog, and I’m loving it! But I’m also a serial lurker, so I’m going to try commenting for once.
    One thing I’d love to bring from my current job in South Korea is that people love bringing food into the office to share with everyone. But it’s almost always fruit.

    Usually something seasonal or something that suits the season. Everyone feels a bit special and coos over the food, and they all get a sweet hit that isn’t as unhealthy as cookies or cake. It’s really lovely and, for me, a lot less stressful than bringing a cake or doughnuts, where I often feel concerned about taking too much or taking the last one.

    With the fruit, it’s often already prepared (melons and apples will be roughly sliced into cubes or melons with a pot of toothpicks on the side) or ready to grab in abundance (a crate of tangerines for a room of 6 people? Okay!) and much easier to help yourself (or not, as you wish!). I also feel less terrible about grabbing a few chunks compared to going back for seconds on the baked goods.

  • Bunnyfart

    I just started listening to your podcast after hearing Gretchen on the Balance Bites podcast. I had to laugh out loud when I heard you say that you consider that box of donuts in the office a hostile act! It’s just how I’ve felt since I started my current job a year ago. Free food is EVERYWHERE and it makes me crazy for a two reasons. One is that I gained about 10 lbs in the first 6 months of my job when I told myself “hey why not” to half a donut or one piece candy. Two is that since I’ve made a policy for myself of not eating free food, my coworkers are constantly taunting me for “being so good” or saying that I really should “just have one” I can’t win!

  • Imogen King

    Yesterday I was offered a sample chocolate in a store, I had been off sugar for awhile and thought I should not take it but then I thought this was an opportunity for a random act of kindness. I started looking for someone who I could give this too and it became a fun way to walk around, it ended up being to a person selling Funny Money at the traffic lights, I asked him if he likes chocolate and offered him the Lindt ball.
    I then thought this is a great solution to the problem of getting a box of chocolates as a gift, share it with someone who would appreciate the treat. It reminded me of this podcast That I listened to awhile back and thought this was a good use for doughnuts – not just to leave them for the cleaner but use it as an opportunity to give “your allocated doughnut” to a homeless person with a cup of coffee. Then the evil doughnut bringer becomes the random act of kindness initiator or reminder. Great way to turn a negative into a happiness trigger.

  • Jen

    I agree with other commenters that office food can build community and is meant to be generous and kind. But, as an abstainer, I have almost no ability to resist the office bagel or donut and have gained a ton of weight at a new job this year with tons of free food everywhere. So, this is something I struggle with. I do send family members and friends food, but try to make it healthier: eg Harry&David nuts and pears or fruit/edible arrangements. I think what I would say is: Bring the food if you want, eat it if you want, but maybe place it strategically, eg. not in a main lobby on the front counter passed 22 times a day. Instead in a break room or someone’s individual office that someone abstaining could avoid. I can resist candy the first 5 times I pass it, but the 10th time- I’ve lost the fight and eat it. I too like to make my bed. In addition to “setting the tone for the day” as someone else mentioned, it makes the bedroom clean and peaceful and can then become an even better place to congregate, relax, read, meditate, get work done.

  • Melissa MacIsaac

    Gretchen- I’m totally binge listening to your podcast!!!! I may even 12 yr old to listen as I know he would appreciate it! Having the ability to binge listen to your podcast makes me HAPPY!

    • gretchenrubin