Podcast #8: On Warm Hellos and Good-byes, the Atmosphere of Growth, and Playing “Divorce Lawyer.”

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having a great time doing our new podcast,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

This episode was especially fun; I was in Los Angeles for my book tour for my new book Better Than Before, so Elizabeth and I got to be the same room as we were recording. Usually we can only hear a voice through our headsets, and it’s much nicer to be able to see each other.

Elizabeth is shadowed in the photo — sorry about that. I forgot to check to see how the picture turned out before I put away my phone.

As I’ve been traveling on this book tour, many people have told me that they’re enjoying the podcast. Thanks for listening! (If you like the podcast, we’re sheepishly asking people to rate and/or review it, if time and inclination permit; that’s very helpful for a new podcast like ours.)

Before describing this week’s episode, I want to say thanks again to the folks at iTunes; they created something special for me, a single page on iTunes where people can find Happier with Gretchen Rubin as well as my books.  As I wrote in a recent post, I try never to read reviews, but I did read this — and I’m very glad I did:

“We’re major fans of Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project. Rubin’s fascination with human behavior–as well as her sincere believe that we can make our lives more fulfilling and joyous–shines through in her podcasts, blog, and books. Her new book, Better Than Before, looks at how we form and break habits and is packed with her trademark warmth, wit, and down-to-earth intelligence.”

So nice. Yowza.

Here’s what Elizabeth and I discuss in today’s episode:

Try This at Home: Give warm hellos and good-byes. I mention a passage from Flannery O’Connor that’s been much on my mind lately: “The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.” –Flannery O’Connor, letter to T. R. Spivey, August 19, 1959, quoted in The Habit of Being.

Know Yourself Better: What did you do for fun when you were ten years old? It’s a clue to what you’d enjoy now, for work or for leisure. That’s certainly true for Elizabeth and me (though true, for Elizabeth, it was the reading and TV-watching, not the divorce-lawyer game).

Listener Question: “Happiness is tied to a sense of accomplishment. What are your thoughts on people who can make and set goals?”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth neglected to tell her husband Adam that she wanted praise, not constructive criticism. If you read this post from a few days ago, Why I Don’t Read Reviews or Profiles of Myself, I mentioned her comments in my post.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: A friend’s mother-in-law said just the right thing: “You know, sweetheart, there will always be a special place in our hearts for you.”

Want to get in touch? Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Phone: 774-277-9336 (774 HAPPY 336). Click here for Facebook Page. Or comment right here.

And we would love to hear from you — about whether warm greetings and good-byes made you happier, what you did for fun when you were a child, your questions, and any other comments. (For instance, one listener suggested that we include the contact information in this weekly post and on the podcast links. Great idea. Done. See above.)

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” (well, we plan to — we haven’t had a guest yet), 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!

  • Great podcast as always, ladies! When I was 10, I was really into politics, travel, and performing (anything where I could be a big ham in front of a crowd). Today, 34 years later, I am a social studies teacher and a Zumba instructor. I think you hit this one spot-on!

    • gretchenrubin


  • I am not sure why it took me so long, but I have just discovered your work with happiness. I am so excited about it that I used my own podcast episode this week to talk about my new author crush, Gretchen Rubin. I think this is going to be a long-term relationship! I am so excited to learn that you have started a podcast. Now I won’t have to wait for the next audiobook to hear your warm, wonderful voice.

    I successfully used many of the same methods you describe to pull myself out of a depression that lasted for two decades. I have become much, much happier, and I have not taken antidepressant medicines for twelve years. However, the need for encouragement never goes away. That is why I do my podcast (A Decided Difference) and why I am so excited about yours.

    I am not sure if I’m breaking a rule by posting a link. If so, no hard feelings if you delete it. But I thought you might like to hear it. http://decideddifference.com/why-being-selfish-is-good-podcast/

  • HelsBels

    Loved the podcast again this week and so good to have
    these different prompts to remind us of the strategies available.

    I was lucky enough to hear you speak at the Red breakfast event in London on Tuesday and loved hearing your stories as well as positive words about Obligers! Many of us there were Obligers and as we know it can sometimes be seen as a negative but you were really positive whilst encouraging us not to see it as an excuse for martyrdom! People will take advantage of Obligers! We get along with everyone. We are the rocks of this world. So….we need to manage ourselves.

    Self-mastery is going to be my focus for the next month and I’m going to work on all those habits that play to my Obliger strengths but with boundaries in place to avoid the burn out.

    Thanks Gretchen – for making it even more real!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! Thanks so much for coming to the event – great to hear that you found it useful.

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    The last thing we always said to our children at night (when they were little and being tucked in or later when they shuffled off to bed under their own steam) was, “I love you.” This is always the last sentence said now when we say goodbye after a visit, or even at the end of a phone call. It’s a habit they have continued with their own children now, too. No matter what might happen between our connection with each other, we are all happy to know that the last thing we said to each other was “I love you.”

  • Mimi Gregor

    I think that we are more our true selves as children, before the rest of the world indoctrinates us with their beliefs and expectations. I certainly find that my interests are basically the same now as they were as a child, only expanded. I still like to draw, write, read, dress up, cook, and organize things. I still need to have alone time. Along the way, I tried to be things I wasn’t, to fulfill the expectations of others. But these were not patterns that have remained with me. The interests and traits I keep coming back to are the ones I had as a child.

  • Megan

    Gretchen – I’m really enjoying your audiobook so far! I just listened to the part where you mention “cruise conrol” and I think that’s a perfect metaphor. It’s a really helpful way to think of habits, when first starting out… if I make ____ a habit, I can cruise through that part of my life with no worry. Eyes on the road/prize, but foot off the gas! Brilliant. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! I’m so happy to hear that it strikes a chord with you.

  • Donna

    I still like many of the things I liked in 5th grade too. I liked reading history and now I do genealogy. I liked the woods and I still enjoy nature and wild life. I did crafts and now I am a painter – I paint once a week outside with nature. I liked decorating my room, I was neat and organized, and I loved science. I had a 40 year career in the laboratory. The other topic about making a habit of being loving with family – my husband and I have a habit of doing something special together on our anniversary. It makes it easy to think together about what we’d like to do – as simple as a dinner or a fancy trip. It’s like glue in our marriage.

  • Ellen

    Another great episode! They are the highlight of my Wednesday morning and my only complaint is that they are too short and too few – I’ve even re-listened to most episodes!

    Warm greetings are a great habit; I now live in Switzerland where you kiss everyone you know three times on meeting and on departing! It somehow makes all relationships feel closer.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • jessiechill

    Thank you for your insight and putting things so clearly. I loved to the youtube video of the days are short and I am enjoying the podcasts with your amusing sister. Really appreciate what you’re doing!

  • RoecocoUK

    I love your podcasts; you work so well together and I always find myself smiling, nodding in agreement or saying “aha, I’ll try that”. I’ve paired listening to podcasts with walking – I have to be on my feet to be listening – and it’s a great motivator to get out for fresh air and exercise.

  • Lorna

    I was inspired by your question ‘What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?’ realising that there was nothing I enjoyed more than prancing around the room to Schubert. I am no longer a dancer but I decided to try stick some Schubert onto YouTube instead of my usual yoga video and do my yoga to Schubert. It turns out to be a winning combination for me, so thank you!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! Great to hear.

  • aboutcreativity

    Very good.

  • aboutcreativity

    I am happy for you that you said good by to being attorney and hello to being a writer.

  • aboutcreativity

    I experence life as talking, listening and opportunitunies to participate.

  • Jackie

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth, I love the podcasts, but thought it was a real cop out to say you envied someone in 1997 – really? We want to know who you envy now that you are both huge successes!

  • Glory

    Loved the tip about thinking about what made you happy at 10yrs of age!

    I still do a lot of the same things for pleasure – reading, playing/walks with my dog, catching up with friends – but I’d forgotten how much i used to love art based activities.

    I’m off to the art supply store after work tomorrow 😉

    • gretchenrubin


  • Chrissy

    Love the podcast. You guys are great. Would you ever consider a guest star? Katy Wolk-Stanley. I think it would be great.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks! Yes, we want to have guests—just getting in the groove first.

      I love Katy Wolk-Stanley – great suggestion.

  • Nansi Naranjo

    I realized I no longer make it a practice to kiss my kids hello and goodbye anymore as they’ve gotten older. After listening to this podcast I have started doing it again and have added my step-sons as well. Surprisingly my 13 year old son seems so pleased with the change he reminds me now to do this if I forget and even reminds me to hug my teenage step-son goodbye. I’ve also started greeting my coworkers with a warm hello. Definitely feel warmer towards others and happier.

  • marshavalk

    Hi Gretchen (and Elizabeth)! I’ve come across your podcast recently and I’ve been listening to some of the earlier episodes back-to-back to catch up. This episode got me thinking about what I loved to do as a 10 year old. I wasn’t sure… But then I went to search for clues in my diaries from that time. And I found out that I kept a one sentence journal!!! I had no idea! And it’s true: some of these one liners take me right back to the day they were written (in 1983…). Others not so much… As I mostly wrote that I had played all day (but not what!). Anyway: thank you so much for giving me so many ideas to implement and think about!

    • gretchenrubin