Podcast 34: Have a Difficult Conversation, and a Talk with Lisa Randall, Harvard Physics Professor (and Rebel). Plus, Hard-Boiled Eggs.

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

Update:  Elizabeth, the ever-loyal sister, gives a plug for the new jacket for the paperback of my book, Better Than Before.  I love the new art — I hope you like it, too. Buy early, buy often!

Also, I’ve been experiencing a backslash backlash.  No backslash! I will not make that mistake again! To look up an episode here on my site, use happiercast.com/34 (or whatever number you’re looking for).

We also feature more great listener responses to my sixteen-year-old daughter Eliza’s request for advice in episode 30.  So helpful and fascinating. (Actually, Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.“)

Plus, if you’d like to get an email alert every time we release a new episode, you can sign up here.

Try This at Home: Have an uncomfortable conversation. I mention Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. To read more about this topic, check out my book Happier at Home, chapter on “Family.”

InterviewLisa Randall. She’s a Harvard professor who studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology. Her new book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: the Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, will hit the shelves in a few weeks; it’s already garnered lots of buzz and starred reviews. (Fun fact: Time magazine named Lisa one of the “100 Most Influential People” in 2007.

For those of you interested in the Four Tendencies framework (and aren’t we all?), Lisa talks about being a Rebel. Her Try This at Home…very Rebel!

Gretchen’s Demerit: I talked to Barnaby in a mean voice. I’m trying so hard to do better.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Hard-boiled eggs are helping Elizabeth to keep her blood sugar level down. (A good example of using the Strategy of Convenience for habit change.)

Happier with Gretchen Rubin #34 -- Visit Happiercast.com/34 to listen

Call for comments, questions, observations!

Starting next week, we’re going to spend four weeks talking about my Four Tendencies framework for human nature. We’ve already had many thought-provoking responses, but we want more.


Please, send in our questions and comments by voicemail, email, etc. What’s your experience with yourself, spouse, child, patient, colleague, boss, friend, etc? We’re dying to hear from you.


As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — have you ever had a difficult conversation? What kind, and did it make you happier?

There’s lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

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.)

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

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.  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.

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!

HAPPIER listening!

  • Jenya

    “Also, I’ve been experiencing a backslash backlash. No backslash! I will not make that mistake again!”

    Ha! I thought of sending you a note about that. Then I realized, this is the Internet — you’ve probably already been bombarded with tweets, posts, comments, emails, and carrier pigeons, all desperate to correct you.

    For what it’s worth, I believe browsers correct the slashes if you do type a backslash instead of a forward slash, so people will still get to the right place. The difference only really matters for programmers.

  • Joyce

    Your comments about difficult conversations hit home for me. Last fall, my ex died fairly suddenly while my son was on his honeymoon. When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he asked for the information on my wishes so he would know what to do. It was a different Christmas present, but one he really appreciated.

    Our whole family had the discussions, and documented 10 Advanced Care Directives, sorted out Power of Attorney, and updated wills. It is a difficult conversation, but one that is really needed.

  • JaneInAZ

    You commented, Gretchen, about one of the suggestions your dog trainer had for Barnaby’s “slow zone” was to act happy and speak in a spirited voice. It reminded me of when I was going to obedience training with our golden retriever mix. The trainer told me “she knows you’re not having fun any more” as a reason for why she was ceasing to cooperate with what I wanted her to do. I thought I wasn’t having fun because she wasn’t cooperating when actually she realized I wasn’t having fun any more and so then she stopped cooperating. She was very tuned into my behavior, more so than I was. And the HB eggs? Yes, eating them for breakfast works on keeping the blood sugar low (personal experience). Go, Elizabeth!

  • Ruth Carter

    I believe talking about death takes away some of the fear that can surround it. The fear can often be the worst thing as it’s full of unknowns.

    When my mother was dying she gave us all instructions about what she wanted. She planned her funeral in all its details and checked her eulogy. It gave the rest of us a sense of peace because we knew we were doing exactly what she wanted. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It wasn’t depressing or upsetting and I believe that it helped with the grieving process because we didn’t have a whole host of other issues clamouring for our attention.

    Advice for Eliza: when you are uncertain about what to do either have a cup of tea or sleep on it. Unless you work in A&E it’s rarely a problem to take your time.

  • Barb Wilson

    I am liking the happiercast url shortcuts. Easier to find! And thank you for recommending the book “why we get fat” !! Reading it now and finding it fascinating. Compelling arguments.

  • Please, please, please have these conversations — especially with your elderly parents. I wish we could have convinced my parents to have these conversations. We adult children were totally up for it, but my parents were resistant to even discussing making a will, let alone their own mortality. At one point I finally had to tell my parents that I would not come in a medical emergency until they made out their medical directives.
    This made things really difficult when my father died, especially because we had to do all the things quickly that we had been talking to my mother about for years. Literally. She didn’t want to pick out a casket, let alone decide about the service.