Podcast 23: Choose an Office TV Show, Do You Savor or Spree, and Keeping Good Habits While Traveling.

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

Update: Elizabeth clarifies that Adam is protective, but not over-protective (she felt that she was a bit harsh in episode 20).

Try This at Home: Choose an office TV show. Elizabeth’s office watches Game of Thrones, and everyone has fun discussing it.  Or maybe a family TV show–my family’s TV show is The Office. (Listen to the bonus clip.) Or you could have an office podcast!

Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer to savor or spree when you’re enjoying certain pleasures? This is related to, but not exactly the same as, the abstainer vs. moderator distinction, which relates to how you most easily resist a strong temptation. I write a lot about this kind of distinction in Better Than Before.

Listener Question: “How do you cultivate healthy habits while traveling?” One answer: avoid loopholes! Here are the 10 categories of loopholes, including the travel favorites, the “this doesn’t count” loophole and the “lack of control” loophole and the “planning to fail” loophole.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth regrets that she didn’t make a bigger effort to make friends with the very nice parents at her son’s pre-school. Now he’s off to kindergarten, so the opportunity has passed.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to my husband, for being super lovely-dovey — which, if you met him, might come as a surprise. He doesn’t seem like he’d be a big “mushball” (Elizabeth’s term).

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We’d love to hear from you: What’s your office or family TV show? What loophole do you invoke–while traveling, or generally?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

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HAPPIER listening!

  • Tina Howlett

    Thanks Elizabeth for embarrassing me on the bus listening to this podcast. I laughed out loud at your “giant mushball” comment!

  • Lindsey Gerstlauer

    I tend to go on podcast sprees! Sometimes, I find that I need to take the ear buds out & give myself a break. Listening to music also helps! I do however, savor my lunch breaks or a good book. 🙂

  • annecore

    Elizabeth–What other podcasts do you like? Because I enjoy Happier so much, I’ve been looking for other podcasts to listen to during my morning walk on non-Wednesdays. I’ve almost finished Serial, which you mentioned. Other suggestions?

    • sara

      you might like the Black Tapes podcast, which is sort of a cross between serial and the X-files

      • annecore

        Thanks–I’ll try it!

  • Andrea Renada

    I am a spree-er. I don’t have the patience for long-winded projects such as gardening. I want the satisfaction of completing something without any waiting time. I spree on podcasts, listening to #1 through the current one in one go and would do the same with TV/cable series if that was my interest. I could easily go through an entire box of Thin Mints in one sitting. I want to start and finish in one discreet time frame. I have always been the first one done on the test. I think I feel more accomplished if I can check off the box, whatever it may be. Long-term projects are dreadful to me, yet I am a detailed planner and a great organizer, traits I consider attributes. I have little patience for “down time” and have a difficult time relaxing. I often wonder how I can reach a balance between getting things done but also having time to pursue “frivolous” pursuits. I feel I’d be happier if I could let go a bit more often.

  • I spree and I dislike this about myself and wish I could change! I am inspired when I read about French women who savor the best food they can afford. As a result they increase their pleasure while staying slim. I have tried to create rules for myself (no eating while doing other things, no eating in the car, eating on a small plate, etc) but still struggle.

    I also speed-read books. If I get a new book in the mail or from the library, I have to devour it that day or as soon as possible, meaning my housework gets neglected. Do you have any tips?

  • sara

    Our office is definitely of the “hate watch” variety…before the whole child molestation thing, it was the Duggars, now it’s the Bachelorette…

  • Kate

    Gretchen you asked Elizabeth if she felt like she was missing out on doing other important things when she binge-watches an entire series. But I feel the opposite! I feel like I need to sit and watch the whole thing over a few days to get it out of the way, otherwise it’s going to take up weeks and week of my life (admittedly, it would only be 1 hour a week, but that feels like too long a period to dedicate to a show!) I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, or crossing something of my to-do list, when I complete a series. That being said, I’m very selective about my TV shows and only watch ones that I’m very interested in, and that I consider to be really worthwhile.

    • gretchenrubin


  • My Repurposed Life

    I am both a spree-er and a savor-er. Even with shows on Netflix. I spreed Grace and Frankie, and am currently savoring Hart of Dixie. I’m not really sure why they are different. Maybe because I knew there was only 1 season of Grace and Frankie, and 3 (so far) of Hart of Dixie.
    I enjoy your podcasts and have shared the news with anyone who will listen. My close group of friends (instead of co-workers) do the “office show” when we get together. We discuss our favorite shows and I love having someone to talk to about t.v. I’m self employed as a blogger, so no office mates for me.

    I have encouraged them all to dl apps on their phone to listen to your podcasts. Alberta not only is doing that, but she bought 2 of your books! She’s old school and would prefer to hold the actual book in her hands. 🙂 She told me yesterday that she’s up to episode 12 of the podcasts.
    I’m learning a lot about myself, and my goal has always been to simply “be happy”.

    I have joined audible to get a free book, Better Than Before. I look forward to listening. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and for helping to spread the word about my work! I SO appreciate that.

  • Kara Blake

    I love the tip of watching an office show and I can attest to its positive impact! I work in Kentucky and I used to have many co-workers from Wisconsin. I soon learned that my colleagues were very passionate about football. Every Monday and Tuesday, all my co-workers would discuss football on our conference calls. Since I wasn’t much of a sports fan, I felt left out. So, one year, I made a conscious decision to watch a couple of games. I had to ask a lot of questions of sports fans I knew, but after only a couple of weeks, I found that I really enjoyed watching football every week. It really made me feel more engaged in my office culture and more connected to our American obsession. I’m looking forward to football season starting soon and I started my habit at least eight years ago!

  • Sara Schoen

    Gretchen, it’s interesting that you relate savor/spree to abstainer/moderator, because it seems to me that it’s more related to the finisher tendency (perhaps less the “opener” tendency, but the “keep things open”, rather than closing/finishing preference). Have other fans made similar comments?

  • suzanne brown

    Here’s an add on to the try this at home…I found that one way to stay connected to my teenagers and get to know their friends was to have a Sunday TV club. It all started accidentally with Game of Thrones and grew to a weekly ritual with a pretty big turn out. Now not only do I have 2 great daughters but I consider their friends my kids too. And more importantly I know who they hang with and what they are doing at least on Sundays. Oh…and bonus. I’m the cool mom. 🙂

  • Sue Bonucchi

    I enjoyed thinking about savor and spree. I savor this podcast. I’m so far behind because I need time to process it, and want to listen to it undistracted! The funniest example is when I bought the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. It took me almost a year to watch it and I didn’t want it to end! When I lent it to my mom, she watched it in a weekend, and I was almost horrified! She went on a Downton spree!

  • Caroline V

    I can relate with the listener’s question, constantly moving not sleeping in the same bed every day of the week for work.
    I have found that having with you in the hotel room or apartment something that is the same as in your home room brings comfort and a sense of belonging, so it is a little bit easier to stick to good habits while away. That might seem a little odd.
    But, I struggle with it… when in new places it,s hard to focus, it kind of always doesn’t count. I think it helps to prepare in advance, to decide in advance.

  • Jamie

    This savor vs spree question really has me thinking. I usually like to Savor, but I adopted a rule sometime when I was a teenage: “Don’t save the best for last”. This may be a reaction to myself being a savorer and not wanting to get to that point that Henry’s friend did with the clothes that went out of style before he wore them. I instituted this rule when we were camping one time and with our neighbors and very good friends, grilled some steaks over the fire kind of as a late evening treat after our long drive to the campground. They were so perfect and delicious and I happened to mention to the father in the other family that I was saving the best part of the steak for last (the little part of the T in the T-bone if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t). “Save the best for last” seemed like such a wise mantra all my life, I’d never questioned it. He said that this wasn’t a good idea, because that part was going to be cold by the time I get to it and no longer at its best. That was when my mind clicked and I completely switched, because I thought of so many examples where saving the best for last is actually detrimental. Particularly that something may happen to that “best” thing… it gets lost, spoiled, goes out of style, you run out of time.
    I do like to savor and I am tempted to spree, but like Henry feel awful if I spree and really wish I had savored. So, that feeling is something I try to avoid, and try to stick with my savoring character.

  • julie

    Since the summer I have become obsessed with podcasts. I am a nutrition/dietetics student so I love a bunch of the health-related podcasts that I can enjoy and learn from. Because it’s a relatively new love in my life (podcasts that is) I cant get enough – so I started listening to them 1.5 or even 2 speed (depending on the natural voice speed of podcasters). Only about a week ago did I learn about Happier — and I cant sotp listening to it… I was listening on hyper speed so I could get it all in! But just before this episode I decided I would at least listen to it at regular speed (BTW your voices are so different on regular speed haha – I had no idea! But still both beauitful and fun to listen to!). SO basically what I am sharing here is that I tend to spree … and then I guess at some point I realize I am nearing the end of something and I decide to savor … oh and I am savoring also because now I bought your book lol maybe that will slow me down with the podcasts :p

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