Podcast 25: Hilarious Tips from A. J. Jacobs: Posture, Brainstorming, and Eat from the Fridge, Not the Pantry.

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

Update: In episode 21,we discussed the try-this-at-home tip, “Join or start a group.” We heard about many interesting, productive groups. Remember, you can request the starter kit for starting a Better Than Before Habits group, or a Happiness Project group. Or you can just email me a request.

Try This at Home-a-Palooza: Our terrific guest, the hilarious writer A. J. Jacobs, suggests a bunch of try-this-at-home tips: stand up straight, brainstorm for fifteen minutes a day, use sustainable honesty, and eat from the fridge, not the pantry. If you want more of A.J.’s humor and insights, read The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, Drop Dead Healthy, and The Guinea Pig Diaries.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I allow my ten-year-old to watch the TV show Friends. Appropriate — or not? Bonus: we include a clip from my favorite episode.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Rain! Drought-plagued Los Angeles got a day of rain.

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We’d love to hear from you. Did you try any of the tips suggested by A. J.?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

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  • Mimi Gregor

    What a delightful episode! I just love A.J. Jacobs, have read all his books, and I must say that I squeed like a fangirl when I saw that he was going to be a guest. Such a pleasant surprise!

    I don’t see anything wrong with letting Eleanor watch Friends. As situation comedies go, it’s a lot more intelligent and funny than a lot of the stuff on TV today, and really… I wouldn’t say that it’s “too adult”. It can even be a great way to begin a discussion with her on certain subjects that are covered in an episode. I think it’s great that you can both watch and enjoy a show together, when so many kids and parents have tastes that are worlds apart.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for listening – and for weighing in!

  • Anna

    Thanks for reminding me of AJ Jacobs! I love his suggestion for 15 minutes of brainstorming. It inspired me to come up with my own daily “Power Hour” (Gretchen, I know you have a different use of this term), based on other things I want to work on too. This would be spread out over the course of the day:
    15 minutes of meditation
    15 minutes of brainstorming
    15 minutes of “worry time” (a tactic for controlling distracting worrying thoughts)
    15 minutes of getting to do all the things I wrote down on my distraction pad while working (e.g., look up something online)

    • OceanPark2

      Anna, I love this idea and will try it as a ‘day-end’ ritual this week.

  • Msconduct

    Funny, I thought of you when I read AJ Jacobs’s Drop Dead Healthy, because he wrote it on his treadmill desk!

    • Msconduct

      And I’ve just (finally!) finished Better Than Before, and realise that your sister’s treadmill desk and AJ Jacobs’s treadmill desk are actually related! What a small world. Or is it just that all the best-selling writers know all the other best-selling writers?:).

      • gretchenrubin

        HAPPY minds think alike!

  • Diane Carter

    I love the idea of better posture – does anyone know if those posture support “braces” they advertise on TV really work?

    • Mimi Gregor

      What I do to align myself into a straight posture is to pretend that I have a marionette string on the top of my head, and someone is pulling it very tightly. This automatically makes everything else fall into place. The best thing is that I can do it anytime, anywhere, to remind myself to stand straight. And you don’t need any extraneous equipment.

      • gretchenrubin

        Great strategy!

    • Yoga or pilates can really help there. It tunes you into your body – so you become more aware when you’re not standing tall. And of course, it teaches you want standing straight actually feels like. For me – it’s sticking in my chin and moving my head back that brings everything into alignment : )

  • Meredith E

    Great episode! I loved the anecdotes from the month of radical honesty, especially aj’s response to getting a gift card. I agree– it’s not a treat, it’s a chore! Keep the guest stars coming 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for listening – and great to hear that you’re enjoying the interviews.

  • Carol Osborn Burns

    I was not familiar with AJ before this podcast so will definitely check out his books. He was great! As for ‘radical honesty’ – I’m going the other way; instead of venting all my petty frustrations I am trying to write them down in a secret journal I keep in my desk drawer – as a way to ‘let them go’. Still a new initiative – too soon to say what impact it will have. (And thanks for bringing me ever-so-gently into the world of podcasts; I have an hour commute and I love them!)

  • My Repurposed Life

    Another great podcast! I know someone who is very unhappy, and he never stands up straight! I see a pattern…
    by the way, I’m up on all the podcasts, and in the middle of Better After. I speak to my daughter on the phone daily during her commute home from work. Recently we were talking about her going to a new restaurant for dinner with friends. I mentioned it’s because she’s Novelty, whereas I am Familiarity. 🙂
    She said “Mom, can we have just on conversation without you quoting Gretchen”.

    Now, here’s the funny part. My daughter Jamie is the one who introduced me to your Happier podcasts!


  • Anne McConnell Van Hoose

    The idea on the podcast about the treadmill desk and the walking meetings made me think of my dad. He’s a junior high school science teacher and last year he decided to get rid of all the chairs in his classroom. He put all the desks up on blocks so that they’d be at the right level while his students are standing. He and the students liked it so much that he is doing it again this year. The students have more energy and pay attention better. Here is a picture of the desks in his classroom.

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  • Jessica Berlin

    I just listened to this one and laughed when I heard Elizabeth talking about the rain and lightning on the day of her pool party. I had to look at the date of the podcast because we also had a pool party planned for my son’s 4th birthday at the end of July last year and it got rained out and the pool was closed because of the lightning. We live in San Diego, so it was probably the same storm! 🙂

  • Another great podcast – been loving all of them!
    I really do love Friends. I love it because I grew up with it. Not when I was 10 perhaps, but in my mid-teens onwards. I’ve watched it *quite* a lot, and I’d say it’s even influenced my humor! Saying that though – as I grow older, I get more annoyed with it. The last time I watched it, I thought to myself “That’s the LAST time.” Why? Because I find it very sexist and rude! As the seasons progress there is more and more mention of pornography, strip cluds, nude women etc. I find it really offensive. As it upsets me that this fact was not apparent to me as a young teenager, as I must have thought that everyday sexism and objectification of women was normal! I have to say, if I had children, I don’t see myself letting my child watch Friends. Not with how I view it now. Just my opinion, a part of me still loves it, as of course – they are Friends! But sheesh, enough with the porn already!