Podcast 40: Holiday Episode: Cornucopia of Try-This-at-Homes from Listeners, and Thoughts on Decorations.

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

Very Special Episode, Holiday edition! Don’t miss the bonus at the end of the episode, when Elizabeth’s son Jack recites a holiday poem.

Update: Elizabeth and I talk about how we divide up our holidays.

Listener Try This at Home: We asked everyone, “What’s your Try This at Home for staying happier, healthier, and more productive over the holidays? We got so many great answers.

One listener suggested reading my post about “8 tips for dealing with difficult relatives during holidays.

I mention being an under-buyer. Want to read about under-buyer vs. over-buyer?

Questioner for Listeners: We also asked, “What’s the thing that’s the essential element of the holiday for you?” For instance, for Elizabeth, the essential element of Thanksgiving is stuffing — and the hanging-out time.

Elizabeth’s Demerit:  Elizabeth has non-functioning twinkle lights dangling off her house.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to our mother, who gave me a pre-assembled set of holiday decorations for Halloween. See photo! And note that although tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I still haven’t put away our Halloween decorations.

Call for comments, questions, observations!

In a few weeks, we’re going to do a round-up episode on the Four Tendencies. We’ve had so many great comments from listeners, so we want to highlight some responses — and we want more. In particular, we want to throw out a few questions.

How does your career align with your Tendency, for better or worse?

If you use the Four Tendencies at work — you’re a doctor, a teacher, a manager — how do use them?

How does your Tendency influence your relationship with your sweetheart?


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  • I enjoyed your discussion this week about handling holiday stress and family drama during the holidays. Big topic but you managed to simplify with practical and wise advice!

    I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and I help clients make lasting behavior change to diet and lifestyle. The four tendencies have really helped me recognize and respect the different ways in which my clients operate. They’ve also reaffirmed there is no one right way to approach change. 🙂 And in sharing your research with my clients, they have developed more self-insight which has given them more patience and compassion during an otherwise challenging period of growing pains.

  • Kelsey

    I’m a Questioner (according to the quiz), with a lean towards the Upholder end of the spectrum.

    I work as a land use planner for a small municipality, dealing mostly with new developments. In this, a part of it is making sure that development proposals follow the city rules (ie: the building is x big and y tall, and z far away from the street, etc). But a lot of it can be based on discretion and interpretation (ie: there has to be landscaping, but how much is up to your discretion).

    My Questioner tendency works in my favor and makes dealing with developers easier, as I try to only make them do the things that make practical sense for the site and can explain why they should spend their money in this way. I see this as especially beneficial when compared to an Upholder colleague who clings to the rules regardless of if they’re applicable to the site or not, and often ends up in conflicts with the developers, our managers, and the municipal Council.

    • gretchenrubin

      Fascinating example!

  • Bérénice Staedel

    someone wrote you that she watched her 11 favorite christmas movies ! Could we have that list? I love that type of movies ut I am sure I do not know about most of them !

  • Rachel Panitch

    I’m an obliger, and am starting to finally take to heart the advice to stop focusing on trying to change my tendency, but instead see what I can do to work with it. For the past few months I’ve tried out “Habitica” — it’s a website/app where you can track daily things that you want to do, plus other habits, and bigger to-do list items. I’ve never been that into the game-ification of life idea, but I’m also a freelance musician — so I’m finding it’s nice to have a place to get those gold stars, and to keep track of how I’m doing on all the internal expectations, even if the external feedback is just moving up imaginary levels, and acquiring imaginary objects! Thanks so much for the podcast — it’s a wonderful addition to my listening each week.

  • KP

    I’m an Obliger and I’m also introverted. I need suggestions for getting outside accountability while avoiding as many people as I can.

  • Sydney

    Love Jack’s poem presentation! Can he do a Christmas poem, too?!

  • Jackie Anderson

    All three of your question apply to me! Today in my office I had one patient take a photo of “Better than Before” and offered the pdf
    “habits” tips to another.
    As well as “How we get Fat”. One patient today was reading it when I came in for exam. No magazines in my office.

    How does your career align with your Tendency, for better or worse?
    As a Family Nurse Practitioner I see all ages of people in various circumstances both good and challenging. Helping my patients who are attempting to make better choices for health. It is helpful for me to assist them in determining how they work best. For Obligers the need to have accountability, for rebels, asking them what is important to them…for upholders, helping them define what is good and bad for them. I ask a few questions but direct them to find out what they are using the website, podcast or book. I could go on and on. I see a lot of patients every day!
    If you use the Four Tendencies at work — you’re a doctor, a teacher, a manager — how do use them?
    I kind of answered above. I have “shrines” my book library which includes “Why we get Fat”, “Happiness project” and “better than before”. I also have the pdf downloads in page protectors on card stock hung on my white board in exam rooms and have printed to give out also. (Exercise better, eat better, work better, etc).
    I also use with my staff!
    How does your Tendency influence your relationship with your sweetheart?

    My husband is a ?er. We work well together. Twenty nine years of work! When we discovered our tendencies it was like an ah ha! The other day I was driving to an event with him. It was 5am and there was NO traffic. I was driving about 10 mph over the speed limit. He said , ” you know your speed bothers me” (he is a commercial driver and AN UPHOLDER!!!!) the law is the law and it is his lively hood. I said I understand YOU need to uphold the law. “I am a questioner”. If the road is open and I am safe, why would I slow down?” He totally understood. BTW I drive everywhere when we are together. His driving makes me crazy.
    Knowing my 4 children and even the 2 daughter in laws tendancy is also very helpful. I understand them all so much more and know what they need in what way so much better! My rebel daughter….19. I understand so much better how to help/encourage her to be successful. She is smart but 19 and lazy.
    Sorry to write so long but this is really meaningful to me.
    I am a learner, I read a lot (but would never post what I read). Most people would be bored, I read a lot of non fiction.
    AND so excited you and Elizabeth are coming to San Francisco. It is on my calendar. Hope I make it just to show up in support.