Podcast 15: Be a Tourist at Home, a Talk with Tom Rath, Office Supplies, and the Habit of Repeating Questions.

It’s Wednesday– time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

We’re very happy (of course) this week, because we hit several milestones.

First, we hit one million downloads, after just a few months! Incredible. We’re thrilled. Thank you listeners.

Not only that, we hit #4 on iTunes yesterday. Our highest ever. Yowza.

Another milestone, the podcast was featured in a BuzzFeed list 10 Life-Changing Thing to Try in June. That’s right, folks, we’re life-changing.

Yet another milestone:  we did our very first interview. We’ve planned to do interviews all along, and finally, we’re underway.

This week:

Update: I report on whether I managed to keep my “hostess neurosis” under control during my daughter’s birthday party. (In episode 14, I promised to try to avoid that fate.)

Try This at Home: Be a tourist in your own city.

tomrathInterview:  bestselling author Tom Rath.  His new book just hit the shelves: Are You Fully Charged? The Three Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. (Spoiler alert: the three keys are meaning, interactions, and energy.) If you want more, Tom and I interviewed each other here. Tom mentions the work of professor Teresa Amabile.

Listener Question: “How can I break my habit of snoozing the day away, and show up for myself as readily as I show up for others?” Go here if you want to read more about being an “Obliger.”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth asks her husband Adam the same question repeatedly, in hopes of getting the answer she wants.

plasticsleeveGretchen’s Gold Star: I confess my passion for clear plastic envelopes. It’s the little things!

Coming up: To celebrate our 20th episode, we’re going to do an episode that features our listeners. So call, email, post your response by June 24, 2015, to one of these questions:

— if you could change one aspect of a relationship, what would you change? Huge, trivial, any relationship.

— what happiness demerit would you give yourself? what gold star would you bestow?

Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: (774 HAPPY 336).  Facebook Page. Or comment right here.

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.

And Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge order.

And we would love to hear from you — whether you tried being a tourist in your own home. Comment here, or even better, post a photo of it on Facebook! Also let us know your questions and any other comments, especially for the Very Special Episode coming up.

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).  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.

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.)

HAPPIER listening!

  • Mairsydoats

    I want to thank you so much, first, for having these wonderful podcasts! Second, I really appreciate your numbering them… I was having a bit of trouble remembering which ones I’d caught up on and finding the new one was getting increasingly difficult. I was telling myself that it wasn’t important, that it was helping me grow and see things from a different point of view – but whoa – the relief – the inner sigh as I notice they’re now numbered – it adds to my happiness all out of proportion from what I would expect.

    And yes, I love listening to you, love hearing you interacting with your sister. Love the discussions, the continuing threads of conversation…

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! thanks! Great to hear it strikes a chord with you.

  • I LOVE being a tourist in your home town (and mine) of Kansas City.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear it struck a chord!

  • Kristy

    Another suggestion for people who don’t want to hit snooze is to have a friend call you at the time you want to get up. My cousin did this when she was trying to train herself to wake up at 5am.

    • gretchenrubin

      This reminds me Anthony Trollope, who wrote in his Autobiography: “It was my practice to be at my table every morning at 5.30 A.M.; and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy. An old groom, whose business it was to call me, and to whom I paid £5 a year extra for the duty, allowed himself no mercy.”

      • emd04

        I need an old groom!

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    The demerit I’d give myself on happiness is allowing the behaviors, words, actions or opinions of others to diminish my contentment with myself or life. The gold star is that I recognize this now and it’s happening with far less frequency than in the past. And when I notice I’ve allowed myself to fall into this old habit, I can shake it off faster. Much better at seeing how to restore balance within, and doing it more efficiently.

    • Tanzle

      I would love to transform this same thing myself. Gretchen – please help. I want to care about people, not what they think of ME.

  • S_ifat

    Thank you. I enjoy your podcasts a lot. Listening to Elizabeth’s demerit I thought to my self- how passive aggressive this is. And of course she said it herself a moment later. I thought- I never do it! But then I remembered something my 10yeo son told me the other day. I was telling him, as always, “you can go do your homework now/ you can go practice your piano” ( in Hebrew it sound more suggestive) and he said :” why are you always saying I “can” do the this I HAVE to do? I guess I just want it to sound as if he has a choice on the matter, but really, he does not :-))

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Clear plastic envelopes! I so identify. I just spent an hour in a crafts emporium yesterday going up and down aisles full of supplies I know nothing about until I found what I was after, sealable clear envelopes 4 1/8″ x 6 1/8″ for mailing fabric post cards. Was so HAPPY when I found them!
    Home tourism: walking on the River Walk in downtown Wilmington NC, or at Greenfield Lake Park or our many beaches. A great place to be outdoors all year!

  • DebiSimons.LI

    Here’s what I’d like to change in my relationship with my husband: the habit of answering each other snappishly. We love each other very much and have a good marriage, but I’m always feeling like I need to apologize to him, or that he needs to apologize to me–which he often does–and it’s just so wearing! I want to form the habit of thinking before I speak and also not over-reacting to him. What suggestions do you have?

  • Anna Campbell

    I live in London and this week I went to the Skygarden (free to go up to the top of a tall building for a great view over London http://skygarden.london) and I’m going with friends on a evening bus tour of London (something I’ve not done before). Definitely being a tourist in my own city this week!

  • Renee

    I sometimes joke that the only reason I became a teacher is so I could keep buying school supplies!
    I started listening to the podcast a couple of weeks ago, after hearing about it from Janssen at everyday-reading.com I feel like I have learned so much already. The one-minute rule is life changing for me, especially in the mornings when I’m in a rush to get out the door and get to work.
    You and Elizabeth are both just delightful, I can’t wait to hear more!

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  • Woo! Des Moines was on the board for this ep! There is a ton of stuff to do in Des Moines and props to The Bachelor for making it look like a fun city and not all cornfields 🙂 Loved this episode!

  • Lindsey Gerstlauer

    I had a photo session lined up this past weekend & I usually have a few go-to places that I resort to. These are locations that I know pretty well & can rely on! However, I decided to take your advice & be a tourist in my own area. I found a fantastic park with a beautiful trail & privacy for the shoot! Not only did I receive positive feedback from the couple but I discovered a new location!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Jess

    I am currently a grad student, and slipping the “I only get X hours of sleep” into conversations happens ALL THE TIME. It drives me flippin’ crazy! So, thank you for mentioning it in this episode — I will get my 8 hours guilt free tonight 🙂
    Love the podcast!

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  • emd04

    Oh my gosh the snooze button….I love it. My personal rule is 3 hits so about 30 minutes. This gives me enough time to get used to the idea! 🙂

  • Tina Knotts

    I was reading your book Better than Before and the tidying scenario reminded me of another book that I am reading. If you have some free reading time, you may enjoy the life -changing magic of tidying up. It reminded me of you and I couldn’t move on today without recommending it to you. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ve read it!

      • Tina Knotts

        What did you think? Did you try it? I’m really intrigued and am trying it. I’ve gone through my clothes and am putting them away, but going through it has been a struggle. 🙂

    • Gabi Pezo

      I read the Marie Kondo Book also.. truly great stuff… just keep what you love and let everything else go! 🙂 It has changed my life and i feel lighter and happier!

  • Lorena Berrón

    Oh! Great! I just listened to this podcast today (I’m trying to catch up with it, but I’m like 2 weeks late), and it is one day after your limit for the question about relationships. But still, I want to submit mine:

    I’m 24, and my sister is 21 (we also have a 14 year old sister), and right now I’m studying my masters, and she’s undergraduate, at the same university, so we are living together in an appartment.

    Since I came to study here first, I’ve had other roomates and lived with other people, so I realized that it is a lot more confortable to live with her, because any problem we have we discuss it, we can even get into fights, but the next day or even hours later, we are talking normally as if nothing had happened.

    But even though we have grown a lot in these years we’ve been living together, we always get into arguments, about silly things, like dishes, eating habbits, chores, etc. (Actually, after listening to your podcast, I realize the problem is that she’s a rebel/questioner-ish and I’m an absolute obliger, which might be a problem sometimes) And some time ago, when we where having one of this arguments, she said something that it’s so very true, but I hadn’t realize how much it affected every relationship I have, and specially ours. And she said: “Why do you think you are ALWAYS right about EVERYTHING?”

    It was very hard for me, because at that point, it opened my eyes to acknowledge that it is such a bad habbit, and that it is damaging my relationships on many aspects, since I always assume my ideas, my solutions, my way of doing things, my other habbits, etc, are correct. And this leaves no opportunity for her, or others, to be right and in my mind, it will always create a conflict, even about very small things, like managing time, or chores, or eating, or excercising, and sometimes also on very big things. ):

    So I would, definitely, change that: To be more open to thinking my sister (and others) are right, and accepting that I might actually be wrong in certain things, and specially, THAT IT IS OK TO BE WRONG. (:

    Thanks girls, for your podcast, it is really awesome and helpful, I love it <3 BTW, I listen you from Monterrey, Mexico. (;

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  • Reena Esmail

    Gretchen, when you confessed your love for clear plastic sleeves my heart leapt! These were life changing for me too! I am a composer and am always sketching ideas on random pieces of paper – often I work on more than one piece of music at a time, or get a random idea for one piece while working on another – before clear plastic sleeves I was never able to keep my ideas for a piece together, but now, when I’m ready to work on that piece I just go into the envelope and see what’s there. Or if I need to work while I’m traveling I just grab the folder and with a glance I know everything I need is in there. It’s often these little practical purchases that bring me years of joy, and as I keep on recycling these plastic folders through new projects, their progressive tattered-ness also gives me a moment to reflect on how much more seasoned I grow in my work.

  • Lauren

    Gretchen, I have to say I think that finding your podcast has been a blessing! First of all, you encouraged me to check out my local library, which I haven’t been to in years. I have long upheld the belief that I am just not a reader…but you episode about stopping books you don’t like made me re-think that attitude. I decided to venture off to the library in search of materials that I could borrow instead of purchase, so I could try them and not feel required to finish them. And guess what book they actually had on the shelf? Eat Sleep Move. I haven’t been able to put it down. I love how concise Tom is (and I think that you exhibit the same kind of conciseness in your podcast) and love how he links all of these actions and their effects into an ideal, healthy self. I feel like every day is more productive now that I am seeing my life and my relationships with your (and Tom’s) frameworks. Keep up the great work!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! happy reading.

  • Sara W.

    I have recently started “binge-listening” to “Happier,” and this episode is the first one I’ve felt compelled to add my thoughts to, and here’s why: I had a very visceral reaction to the demerit/gold star section of this episode! When Elizabeth is referring to her tendency to ask her husband if he’s cold repeatedly in an attempt to convey that she herself is actually cold, the response Gretchen gave that Adam maybe needed to change his habits to look beyond and try to understand what Elizabeth was really trying to convey was, well…. wrong!
    Elizabeth sounds like she’s attempting to hint at what she would like changed instead of saying outright what it is that she wants. Saying outright what it is you want to see changed is called “content communicating” and it is a very valuable tool. I have done a lot of reading on marriages and effective ways of communicating with one’s spouse, and hinting is NOT one of them. Content communicating absolutely is. (I once heard about a family whose patriarch had a most curious habit–at the table, instead of saying, “Would you pass the butter?” the father would stare intently at the butter until someone in the family realized he was staring and would pass the butter to him. Granted, Elizabeth’s habit isn’t quite so shrouded, but it’s still not as effective as it could be.) In fact, my aunt told me a few weeks ago that her fist fight with her husband was a direct result of this exact thing. On a drive, she said, “I’m thirsty,” and her husband said, “Let’s stop to eat when we get to (town’s name).” She then proceeded to pout because his response wasn’t what she had wanted. What she wanted was to pull off at the next gas station for a Diet Coke, which isn’t at all what she said.
    So Elizabeth: I’m going to give you a happier tip as well. (You needed two happiness bullies in your life, right?) In the future, if you are cold, I think it would work much better for you and your husband if you were to say, “I’m cold. Would you be willing to change the thermostat, or would you mind if I did?” Or, “I’m cold. Could you bring me my jacket/blanket/snuggie?” Or, “I’m concerned that you’re going to be late for work if you don’t leave soon. Is there something I can do to help you feel ready to go?” Or, “I would like to sell our house and move. What are your thoughts?” The way to effective communication is to say what you what and clearly set up your expectations. I think women tend to expect men to read our minds, especially after X number of years married, but I believe that is an unfair expectation.
    So there’s my happier tip! Say what you mean. The end.

  • Wendy Barron

    Oh the plastic sleeves! I share your love for them, Gretchen, especially when they come in different colours: yellow, red, blue, green! And, okay, clear too. Fantastic things.

  • Jacqueline Sarkies

    I wish I had found your podcast sooner, but thankfully I am able to enjoy it as my car ride treat! I was listening to this podcast, and I wanted to share a story from a fellow snoozer. I snooze the alarm, one time for over an hour and a half! (Gretchen is definitely cringing at this.) After many snoozing mornings, I was introduced to an alarm app for the phone. It has changed my happiness in the mornings! The app is called Sleep Cycle, and it measures your breathing and movement throughout the night, to determine when you are in your lightest sleep during your alarm time span to wake you. I know, it sounds pretty insane, and I thought my friend was nuts when she told me about this, but it has helped so much! It does still let you snooze if needed, but I can definitely say that I have almost (definitely almost) stopped snoozing. So worth trying! Thank you for bringing happiness back in my life!