Podcast #12: Indulge in a Modest Splurge, Tigger vs. Eeyore, Road Rage, and April Fool’s Pranks.

Time for the next episode of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin. A fun episode, because Elizabeth got to record it from our hometown, Kansas City (Missouri, for those of you who know your K.C.).

Back in episode 2, Elizabeth vowed that she would start setting an alarm to help her get to bed earlier, and in this episode she reports on her progress. Nutshell: she’s not perfect, but she’s doing better than before. To read more about the Strategy of Other People, go here.

Thanks, everyone, who sent us suggestions for sunscreen brands they like, after hearing last week’s conversation. Elizabeth, now we have no excuse not to use plenty of sunscreen.

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

PodcastNotebookElizabethTry This at Home: Sometimes, it’s nice to indulge in a modest splurge. Even for under-buyers! Here’s a photo of Elizabeth’s podcast notebook.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Other people’s bad moods or perpetual crabbiness or chronic negativity. Also known as the Tigger vs. Eeyore problem. (I discuss this at length in Happier at Home.) Note: if you listen to the very last minute of the podcast, you’ll find a fun little reference to Tigger and Eeyore.

Listener Question: “How can we avoid road rage?”


Gretchen’s Demerit: The failed April Fool’s Day tradition. Here’s a photo from yesteryear’s April Fool’s green milk.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Kansas City, City of Fountains.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors! Check out Smith and Noble, a solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

Also…go to 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.

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 “indulge in a modest splurge,” whether you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore,  your questions, and any other comments. I’d also love to get ideas for future family April Fool’s Day pranks.

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, 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!

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Well, don’t know how ‘small’ this indulgence really is, but I am on a delightful cultural exploration trip lately. I got to know my close friend’s wonderful neighbor from Mumbai, and had some cooking lessons with her. This reminded me of my International Cooking adventures as a young graduate student bride, and I pulled out my one Indian cookbook (a Time/Life publication from the 1960s). I stocked up on some spices at an Indian market, and have been cooking great meals. Also I bought a couple of newer Indian cookbooks. To this I added “The Hindus, an Alternative History”, by Wendy Doniger, a prize-winning history that reads like a fun chat with a VERY bright and scholarly lady.

    Gosh this is one of those reminders of what I used to do when I was younger–not when I was nine or eleven, but when I was in my twenties. It is a LONG time since I have just followed my nose down some relatively unknown-to-me path of history, religion, culture and cooking — reading, watching films, eating, and generally enjoying a trip to another world mostly in my own living room and kitchen. In the past I have explored Native American Culture, Vietnamese culture and cooking, various Latin American cuisines and histories, some archaeological subjects, liturgy and art, and lives of saints. I am really having some FUN!

    • Mimi Gregor

      There is a wonderful Indian grocery/bazaar close by, and I love to visit and buy things there! They have bulk spices that are fresher and cheaper than at the supermarket. Plus, I love some of the beauty products produced in India. When I’m there, I stock up on this very effective Ayurvedic face wash for problem skin that is made with neem and turmeric. Also a clay face mask that also may have turmeric in it, as it dries on my face to a zombie yellow-green… which is fun. Also, Vicco turmeric cream with sandalwood oil… it’s great for lightening sun damage and it smells wonderful. And the sandalwood soaps! Oh, how heavenly they smell! It’s a great place to buy a lot of things you can actually use and yet it still qualifies as a splurge… and a reasonably priced one at that.

      • Penelope Schmitt

        sounds lovely!

      • Jocelyn

        Oh this is wonderful. I do not cook or garden but I love spices and herbs and their smells so I splurge a bit on good quality essential oils but I usually wait till Christmas when there is a special on.

  • dana

    I love purple, so any time I pay extra for something because it’s purple is considered a splurge in my mind. Like the purple leather coaster in my office (I don’t even need a coaster in my office…). Purple paper clips and binder clips – they make me happy 🙂

  • Liz

    I am very much an under buyer & recently purchased a dress for $70 (it took me two days to make a final decision!) It fit perfectly, loved the colors
    & soft material. I just couldn’t wrap my head around spending that much for one item! I finally realized, I never spend money on clothes & splurging on
    something every once in awhile isn’t so bad! 🙂

    • Gillian

      Many years ago, while shopping for clothes (an activity I hate), I found a skirt that I loved – the style, fit, fabric & colour were perfect. But it was about $30 more than I usually paid for a skirt. After a long debate with myself, I finally bought the skirt. It was good quality and lasted at least 10 years during which I wore it at least once a week every winter. And every time I wore it, I felt really good. I decided then to buy fewer clothes but to buy only what was perfect for me. If the only thing wrong with an item is the price, I would (within reason) buy it. If the price is right but anything else is wrong with an item, it is a waste of money.

  • Victoria

    On the subject of road rage, I agree with Elizabeth that having something I look forward to listening to in the car is a great way to make journeys less stressful (favourite podcasts and audiobooks are my treats…) Also it really helped me when I really accepted that road rage isn’t personal against me – this person does not know me at all, but is really seeing me as a car with an anonymous “idiot” or whatever at the wheel – getting in their way. Also as Gretchen says, who knows what might be going on in their lives? There’s a bias we all have isn’t there – I can’t remember what it’s called – where we feel our own actions are reasonable because of the external circumstances in our lives at the time (parking on a yellow line because we urgently need something from the chemist) whereas we attribute other people’s transgressions to their own selfishness or stupidity!

    • Penelope Schmitt

      My experience with road rage was the scary kind. On the way to work one morning in my little Mazda protege (this was maybe 20 years ago) I sped up a little to move into a lane merge. The fellow I left behind me was driving in a luxury sedan and wearing an expensive suit. He must have been having a really bad LIFE, because he ran me off the road, got out of his car, beat on my window and screamed obscenities at me, some of which were nastier than I have ever heard in my life. I was able to drive away unhurt, but really scared to death. Road rage is no joke. For a long time after that I was unable to drive without being super wary of all the others around me.

      • Contessa99

        Ugh. I’m so sorry you had that experience! It sounds incredibly scary. That gentleman sounds like a terribly unhappy person. I used to have a boyfriend whose road rage regularly made me burst into tears (feeling scared for my life, there in the passenger seat). I wish I had left sooner…

  • Ricky Beers

    I liked Gretchen’s and Elizabeth’s responses to the road rage question: imagining why others are doing what they are do is a good technique, as is finding a pleasant distraction. I think Gretchen’s idea is distilled well in this video based on David Foster Wallace’s famed graduation speech, This is Water: https://vimeo.com/68855377
    In general, I think impatience and rage comes from being stressed out and feeling rushed. I am prone to this kind of behavior, so what I do is to try to always build extra time into every trip or activity so that if I’m delayed — whether it is terrible traffic or someone I’m dependent on is late — I can sit back and relax (and yes, enjoy a podcast or a ball game on the radio.)
    Great job on the podcast, BTW!

    • Victoria

      Thanks for posting this video, I really love it, and it hits the nail right on the head!

  • Cory Canamo

    Love the podcasts. If you have ever watched The Middle, Sue Heck is the BEST example of a Tigger. Before I read your first book I resolved to organizing my closets this year. It was the best feeling when I read your book and realized other people felt that outer clean helps inner calm. I also started the bed time alarm this week. I will keep you posted.

  • Contessa99

    My modest splurge was buying a “fancy” pair of sunglasses. The kind that costs a bit more, and comes with a clamshell case. This happened after years of buying one pair and then another of cheap drugstore sunglasses. Those sunglasses were constantly getting scratched up, left in the wrong place, and so forth. As it turns out, the clamshell case is what makes the new sunglasses such a happy thing! I always return them to the case, and leave the case in my car. They remain unscratched and pristine, even after two years.

  • Dixie

    This episode reminded me about the inexpensive extravagance you helped me bring into my life. When I read about it on your blog or maybe one of your books, it prompted me to act.

    My indulgences are : bendy straws and facial tissue with lotion.

    I like drinking from a straw. It feels special because we only had straws at home when my sick grandpa was visiting because he had trouble drinking in other ways. It had to be bendy because of he couldn’t always hold his head up….The bendy straw feels extravagant and also reminds me of my grandpa. 🙂

    And before I realized I had a right to the special tissue, I was rubbing my nose raw with pieces of toilet tissue. I have allergies. Now I view the special tissue as part of my therapy…

    Thanks Gretchen. These small indulges make me happy every time…for pennies per usage.

  • Annie

    Hi Gretchen & Elizabeth – my sister recommended your podcast to me and I am enjoying it very much!

    This episode made me think of my own modest splurge…3 years ago when I got my first job out of school and moved into my own tiny apartment in a new city where I didn’t know anyone, after several months I bought a West Elm duvet cover. It was on sale, but still a bit more expensive than the one I was about to buy at Target. It seemed like a frivolous expenditure at the time (because I was still in need of some actual furniture), so I deliberated over it for a week. Ultimately, I went ahead and ordered it online and I’m so glad I did! It is definitely a comfort item for me and I love the way it brings together the colors in my bedroom. Nothing makes me happier than waking up on a weekend morning snuggled up in my comfortable duvet with sunlight shining through the windows!

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  • Jocelyn

    I just love this podcast. I love Elizabeth’s voice and the way Gretchen laughs. My modest splurge is Rooibos tea. Not the regular kind, this is very concentrated and used to make Red Cappuccino’s and it is very expensive. I drink 1 cup a day and savour every sip. I also buy lots of other things that make my soul happy such as pens and books but I do not think of these as indulgences but as the staples of life. Pens are my bread!

  • Reena

    Practical Question: I seem to remember that there was one really standout sunscreen that didn’t have that icky feeling — but I can’t seem to find it by skimming through the podcast again… If anyone remembers what it was, please let me know!!