Podcast #11: Make the Positive Argument, Simplicity vs. Abundance, and Sunscreen.

Time for the next episode of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Last week’s special closet-clearing episode was a ton of fun. Don’t miss the before-and-after photos! This week, we’re back to the usual format.

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

We update listeners on “updates” — from episode 2. This was an idea that really seemed to resonate with people.

Try This at Home: Make the positive argument.

Know Yourself Better: Are you a simplicity-lover or an abundance-lover?

Listener Question: Why is hard to do the things that make you happy, sometimes? (This is one of the questions that inspired me to write Better Than Before.) I mentioned a few resources: here’s the Quiz to tell you your Tendency; here’s the starter kit for launching an accountability group.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Under-applying sunscreen.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors! Check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including the Fundamentals of Photography, and get up to 80% off. Limited time, however, so don’t delay.

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

And we would love to hear from you — whether you tried to “make the positive argument,” whether you’re a simplicity- or abundance-lover, your questions, and any other comments.

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, post questions to help you “Know Yourself Better,” and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks.” 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” or a “Gold Star.”  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

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Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!

  • I loved this podcast! I’ve thought about why I do not do those things that I really love, as well, such as reading a book just for fun. Accountability is helpful (I am in a Book Club for this!), but sometimes I wonder if I do not pick up the book after work because I love the feeling of getting giddy to read it. I have a pattern of putting off the last chapter in a book I am reading because I don’t want it to end! The more I read, though, the more it proves to me that another great book is just around the corner and I will likely get just as excited about it.

  • About Creativity

    yes to both.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I may be able to help you with the sunscreen. I, too, hate the feel of it on my skin. I had even tried the ones made specifically for the face and supposedly non-comedogenic… to no avail. Then I happened to try Blue Lizard Face sunscreen, SPF 30. After a minute or so, it sinks right in, is matte in appearance and doesn’t have any greasy feel. Plus, it is mineral-based rather than chemical, so I don’t have to worry about what all those chemicals are doing to me once they sink in. I use it on all exposed areas, not just my face, as I hate that greasy feel no matter where it is. A lot of the upscale fashion magazines recommend Athelios. I tried that. Blue Lizard is somewhat similar, but much less greasy. And much less expensive. It may be hard to find, so I generally get it online anymore — it beats running around looking for it.

  • Alison

    For sunscreen, I love Neutrogena. It’s not greasy and has a very light (pleasant) scent. I also find it’s easier to remember if I just include it in my daily routine by getting a face moisturizer that has SPF in it. I almost always remember to moisturize in the morning, so that covers me 99% of the time. I do try to reapply if I know I’ll be outside for a while since I’m very pale.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Alison

    Also, just wanted to say that I really enjoy the podcast, and it makes me so happy that it’s under an hour because it feels like less of a commitment to have to put aside a lot of time for one episode.

  • I have a question – is it possible to be a simplicity lover in some aspects and an abundance lover in other aspects? I get very overwhelmed by visual clutter, so in that aspect I’m a simplicity lover. But, I also get a huge thrill out of completing a set of something – like all 50+ ink pads that Hero Arts sells. In that aspect, then, I would be an abundance lover. Is this possible, or am I missing the point on something?

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, I think it’s absolutely possible.

  • Erin

    Elizabeth, I have your sunscreen solution. First, Lubiderm lotion with SPF 15 for you. Yes, it’s only SPF 15 but it doesn’t smell or feel like sunscreen so I remember to put it on every morning and at least it’s some protection. Next, for Jack, the spray sunscreen left right by the door you leave from in the morning. It’s super quick, which is important when spraying a moving target (my two boys always are!) Finally, the sunscreen sticks. Just invest in a company that makes them and buy in bulk. I keep one in my purse, one in the car, one stashed in each of the boys’ backpacks, etc. Even if I forget to sunscreen myself or my sons, if I have one of those sticks I can at least swipe it across their nose, cheeks and forehead which diminishes the worst of the sunburn and alleviates my “mom guilt” (although I have been known to scrape off parts of these sticks and smoosh them into a spreadable paste when desperate). Good luck!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for this!

  • Grandma Honey

    I love your laugh. I’m sure it makes me smile every time. I also appreciate how your podcasts move along quickly with so much great info and ideas. I always listen to each of your podcasts twice…the first time just to utterly enjoy, the second time for the ideas to hopefully sink into my brain.

    • gretchenrubin


      • shruti

        Also, Gretchen, your podcasts and ebooks work as “pairing” for me. I now listen to you every morning at the gym and have been every day for the last two weeks after a two month hiatus from working out (I finished a half marathon goal, which, as you described in your book, totally screwed my “habit” of running)

        • gretchenrubin

          So great to hear that! I love that the podcast is part of a pairing.

          And interesting to hear that you had the “finish line” problem with the half-marathon. I was so surprised to see this pattern, but it’s widespread.

    • shruti

      Me too! It’s the only podcast I listen to twice!

  • Kim S

    I am an obliger and I loved the “read a book” example. This is very true for me, too. I was surprised that Elizabeth’s little boy wasn’t enough of a reason for her to cook. That worked for me when I had kids, I wanted them to eat healthy and for us to sit down as a family–so I was “obliged” to cook a meal!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great example.

  • Jackie D

    Sunscreen recommendations from a skincare nut: NIA 24 (absorbs immediately, no white cast), Skinceuticals (ditto), or Clarins (ditto) all make excellent sunscreens. All are full of great ingredients and I don’t resent having to apply any of them. I use NARS tinted moisturizer with SPF on my face, but always a dedicated SPF on my neck and chest. I skip it on my arms so I can get good vitamin D and because dermatologist Dr. Marko Lens (of amazing skincare range Zelens) says I don’t need it.

  • shruti

    Some more high SPF physical sunscreen recommendations! If your skin is dry First Aid Beauty Pure Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 40) is great. If your skin is oily, Shiseido Urban Environment (SPF 40) is a great mattifying sunscreen. Algenist Ultralight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50 is also a great physical (mostly) suncreen although it’s on the expensive side and the bottle is horrendous (you have to cut off the tip of the dispenser otherwise the product literally comes out drop by drop). I’m Indian but pale enough that I get sunburned pretty easily in Texas, so finding a mineral sunscreen that feels moisturizing and doesn’t leave a white cast was pretty important to me. Now that I know what works for me, I really enjoy the process of putting it on every morning.

  • Anne

    I appreciated your advice to just do it instead of debating back and forth about applying and reapplying sunscreen. We live in the Portland, OR area and while it isn’t really known for the sun, my toddler is fair skinned.

    The strategy of convenience has helped, too. I keep it next to the stroller in the garage, in our downstairs bath, and in the diaper bag. I’m reluctant to use the spray on kind because the effects of inhaling it haven’t been studied but I do use the stick kind on my toddler’s face and that also makes it more convenient for me.

  • Deb

    I try to avoid the pharmacy sunscreen as they have soo many chemicals. I buy the ones with very few ingredients (or make my own) and one of them is always zinc oxide, which sadly, complicates matters as it stays somewhat white on your skin (your skin isn’t absorbing it- it’s protecting you on the surface). Also, you need to get about 20 minutes of UNprotected sun per day in order to get adequate vitamin D and pills aren’t the solution (they may even cause more problems,which is now becoming known). So don’t feel bad about not applying it all the time. I typically go out for 20 minutes in the sun and then apply it really well.

    If you want more info on sunscreen, google Chris Kresser and sunscreen. He’s a functional medicine practitioner whom I wholeheartedly respect.

  • Katie Greer
  • Amanda


  • Aditi Phadtare

    I know the episode aired almost 1 year and 6 months back but i heard it today and i couldn’t resist so here i am with my favorite sunscreen. I love origins MEGA-DEFENSE ADVANCED DAILY UV DEFENDER SPF 45. Its liquid sunscreen and brings a bit of shine to your face since it has zink but completely oil free. If you are still looking for a sunscreen definitely give it a try.

    And Gretchen Thanks for reminding me to get my TSA pre-approved application completed. I have known about it for about 6 months now but the procrastinator that i am i still have not completed it. Tip For people who still have not done it and are planning to do it, check with your credit card company i know chase and american express have it listed as their card benefits. Meaning if you pay with your chase card the application fees will be reimbursed by the credit card company so it’s literally a free application for people who’s credit card has that benefit.

  • Samantha Falleder Berman

    Just catching up on this podcast! Great tips!

  • Eliza Bennett Ludwig

    Hi there. Revisiting old episode. I am totally with the listener question. I love sewing but never do it! My problem is I’m a questioner so not sure why tgis is an issue? Any advice? Eliza