Podcast 45: Home for the Holidays, Kansas City Edition! We Record at Winstead’s.

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

Update: It’s the Kansas City edition! We begin our recording from a table at Winstead’s, the beloved Kansas City diner that’s our family’s favorite place to eat. Plus we feature some special guests.

Elizabeth and I had so much fun recording this — it’s always extra-fun when we’re together, and it was great to be in our hometown.

Try This at Home: “Identify your special places.” The restaurant Winstead’s is definitely one of our special family places.

PodcastElizabethEatingBurgerWinsteadsI quote from Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane: the Nature of Religion: “There are, for example,  privileged places, qualitatively different from all others — a man’s birthplace, or the scenes of his first love, or certain places in the first foreign city he visited in youth. Even for the most frankly nonreligious man, all these places still retain an exceptional, a unique quality; they are the ‘holy places’ of his private universe.”

Know Yourself Better: Is there a New Year’s resolution that you’ve made over and over?

Update! We talked to my sixteen-year-old daughter Eliza in Episode 30, and here, she gives us an update. Also, she announces that she has started a podcast of her own. Check out Eliza Starting at Sixteen. She does the whole thing herself — recording, editing, everything. ElizaStartingat16logo Which astounds me.

Mindy’s Gold Star: One of Elizabeth’s best friends, Mindy, gives a gold star to her father, who told her, “Always pay attention to what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have.”

podcastEEEandGinclosetEleanor’s Gold Star: My ten-year-old daughter gave a gold star to our family, for getting a dog. We didn’t think we were a dog family – but we did it! And we’re so happy.

Note: it’s hard to see, but I’m wearing a t-shirt that Elizabeth gave me a few Christmases ago — a bluebird wearing a Santa hat.

Special plea: I’m trying to think of a word to fill in the blank: “The Four _____ Tendencies.” What word could I add, that would help convey the nature of the framework to people who haven’t heard of it? Please send your ideas!

Remember, if you live in the Bay area:  Elizabeth and I are doing our first live recording of the podcast! January 21, Brava Theater, we hope to see you. Info and tickets here.  We’ll have two outstanding guests, Nir Eyal and Jake Knapp. Plus Elizabeth and I have planned special little treats, and you also get a copy of Better Than Before with your ticket.


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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!

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  • mom2luke

    I think the word you are looking for is _obligation_ tendencies.

    • from your contribution I immediately thought of ‘responsibility’ or ‘liberty’.

      the goal of habit understanding is to be more happy, satisfied, contented, and the means of acquiring happiness, satisfaction, contentment is my understanding of how I treat my responsibilities/liberty. Do I treat responsibilities as an obligation, vow, rebel,…

      but then that is just the absent meanderings of my amateur mind. 🙂

      • I still like responsibility tendencies; especially the sub-text with it. Yet I may have found a better one: 4 Trigger Tendencies. “How to better trigger the four tendencies to new habits.”

  • lawrencefox

    The “Four Habitual Tendencies”? (or is that too cute?)


    • mom2luke

      Good one! Or Habit-forming”?

      What confuses me about them is that no one person is 100% in one category. We all rebel against some things at some times yet we almost all obey authority figures much of the time.

      But her book is in the context of what motivates us to do stuff we don’t necessarily want to do ( obligations) to form better habits.

      So if upon going to the doctor we are told we need to lose weight, that is an obligation.

      I might first question why. And need a list of reasons and strategies and success stories that fit my lifestyle.

      Obligers might agree just because doctor said so. But still need helpful strategies tailored to being a accountable to a taskmaster.

      Hell no! Says the rebel because that’s how he rolls (hey! I’d rather drop dead!)
      But I think Pat Conroy was a great example of how a rebel obeyed his doctor but in his own way and never set foot back in the doctor’s office.
      While an upholder. They’re like Nike. They just do it.

      • gretchenrubin

        What’s the Pat Conroy story? I don’t know that.

        • mom2luke

          It’s a great story: From the Washington Post:
          He had Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and a failing liver.

          “I was in the process of dying,” Conroy says. His doctor told him he needed to adopt a more healthful lifestyle and enroll in a hospital-based alcohol treatment program. Conroy would have none of it.

          “I told him, ‘Doctor, you don’t know me very well,’ ” Conroy recalls. “ ‘You will never see me again — and that is a promise.’ ”

          He kept his word. Following his release from the hospital, Conroy, now 69, quit drinking. He has since lost about 25 pounds. His blood pressure is now at a normal level, without medication. …. see: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-writer-pat-conroy-lost-weight-and-took-back-his-health-just-in-time/2015/08/17/2dfe493a-2bcf-11e5-bd33-395c05608059_story.html

          • Judy

            Sounds more like a questioner to me. He listened to his nutritionist because her way made sense to him, while his doctor did not. Great story to share!

      • You’re wrong. I didn’t read the book (sorry!), but I would argue the context of her book is what moves us to meet our responsibilities in life.

        Perhaps we go to the doctor for affirmation of our desire to be healthy (free of disease, illness). Perhaps we go to the doctor to hold ourselves accountable to take the steps be healthy. But going to the doctor isn’t our responsibility.

        Pat Conroy had a responsibility to someone (himself, his fans, his customers, his family, I don’t know) to look after his health. In order to meet that responsibility he rebelled against his doctor. That was just his way to make sure he did what he had to do to be healthy (“I’m going to show him!”).

        • mom2luke

          I don’t get where I’m wrong. Responsibilities equal Obligations, right?

          Pat Conroy had rebelled against his doctor for YEARS when told he had diabetes and needed to quit drinking, eat right etc. (“Everything the diabetes doctors told me was absolutely true,” says Conroy, who was diagnosed in 1996 and told to lose weight and exercise more. “I just didn’t do it.”)

          More recently, even on death’s door, he rebelled against “doctor’s orders” to enter a treatment program. And did it HIS way instead. So the Rebel had a “lightnening bolt” moment that finally changed his habits…but only because he did it HIS way (vs. his doctor’s plan for inpatient care) which is consistent w/ the Rebel tendency. He’s had a lot of help from people he _chooses_ to be accountable to (personal trainer, he lets his next door neighbor come in and throw out his unhealthy foods, etc.)

          Anyway, that sounds like a rebel to me.

          Re the word obligation/responsibility somewhere I read (I thought it was Mike Wallace writing on his clinical depression) “We owe it to our loved ones to be as healthy and happy as possible.” (or something like that)…so that’s what I meant by obligation to our loved ones to take care of ourselves and be healthy. (i.e., go to the doctor when necessary rather than dropping dead or making loved ones play nursemaid.)

          But her book is all about how we can use habits to make ourselves better than before, and knowing ourselves/tendencies and what motivates us helps. But Rebels will read her book, only if THEY want to, not if I try to get them to…
          So I’m trying to figure out how to get the rebels in my life to take better care of themselves (I know it will make them more pleasant to live with if they’d eat right/exercise/be happier!) But I can only change myself and the way I make my requests…which is why I keep coming back to her podcasts & blogs & now Eliza’s podcasts, not just to improve my habits but to understand their tendency better, to see if I can somehow help them be happier. Unhappy people are hard to live with. (I can hear the rebels now: “And so are Polly Annas hard to live with too!”)

      • (I’m replying to your original comment so the ‘nested’ comments don’t get too deep.)

        obligation: an act in which a person is morally or legally bound
        responsibility: the ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.

        No, there is a slight linguistic difference between responsibility and obligation. And as we understand the two terms more, I think we will see how that slight difference has large implications.

        Can a person be obligated to reciprocate an action, where the person is not responsible for the action? Example, if a friend did a favor for me, and then asks me to help him out, do I have a responsibility to help him? Or am I merely obligated?

        My responsibility as a teacher means that I provide the best instructional tools and learning environment for my students. Am I obligated to use certain tools or practices for all of my students? Obviously (I hope!) not. The principle of individual differences (and responsible teaching!) demands that I utilize different tools and practices for different students. They don’t all learn the same way!

        Deepening our knowledge of a topic is essential to understanding. Understanding the forces that drive our habits can strengthen our relationships with everyone in our lives. Merely by listening to, and understanding, the trials and tribulations of our loved ones can do more than any tangible action. Having additional knowledge that my student isn’t questioning my tactics in the classroom as a sign of disrespect, but rather as a means figuring out the task he is given, removes much of the stress from my shoulders and allows me to think about more important things. My soulmate made this very clear to me. She routinely tells me: I just want to be understood and accepted just for me. She claims to be a simple person with simple thoughts, but she’s more cerebral than she gives herself credit.

        Hopefully, Gretchen can weigh in on this (since I haven’t read the book!)! I hope that’s helpful, and I really enjoyed reading your comment. You really seem vested and perplexed by the topic! And I love it when people can communicate authentically!

        • mom2luke

          Ok. I see. I didn’t look up/know the exact definitions, but I think the words are pretty much similies today and their use is much broader.
          We have social “obligations”, we’re “responsible” for our children –and our own actions–but not responsible for their happiness, only our own (and for establishing/ recognizing boundaries)…we can only do so much for others.

          we choose how much we do to be happy and Gretchen Rubin really nailed it when she linked happiness to our HABITS. Some of my habits are good and make me so happy (daily exercise w/ my son who has autism is a 2-fer, I’m being a good mom, engaging him, and it makes us both feel good to play tennis/swim)

          (I was an “early adopter” to Gretchen’s blog, even before the first Happiness Project book came out, because I was unhappy with so much in my life due to the difficulty of parenting a son w/ autism…but now it is my rebel daughter/husband I’m trying to improve how I interact w/ them instead of peppering them w/ annoying questions. )

          Her books are all good reads (esp if you’re a questioner!). But if you’re just trying to get the gest of them, the blogs explain the highlights. I’m not 100% sold on the 4 tendencies. She said that vast majority of people in a seminar were Obligers and Questioners with very few Upholders and Rebels… I think we all have overlap in our tendencies, much like the 5 love languages*, but Gary Chapman allows for the overlap, Gretchen asserts if we look deeply, we’re motivated by one primary tendency.

          ( I classify my love language as Quality Time, yet genuine Words of Affirmation motivate me and stay with me FOREVER. Meanwhile, Gifts ugh. They stress me out and clutter my life and I just don’t like them…nor surprises, but my husband insists on buying a bunch of stuff from Macy’s that he goes in and grabs at random Christmas Eve. Always stuff I don’t need or want, then he gets mad if he notices I don’t use it or return it. Even tho I say, Give me EXPERIENCES, Quality Time, play tennis w/ me or agree to tickets to a show if you must give me something. But he doesn’t. Meanwhile his love language is Acts of Service, so I try to speak that (vaccuming his car, running errands, taking our son out of the house to give him alone time)

          Acts of Services is my best friend’s love language and she speaks it to me bringing food when I’m sick and in a major decluttering of my house as she was practicing to be a real estate stager. I LOVE those gifts from her … my point is, few things in life are black and white, even tho the theories are sound. Chapman and her books are both best sellers because I think we’re all looking for solutions to chronic barriers to love/happiness/good relationships

          I think you’d really enjoy her books, esp the initial Happiness Project as she’s trying to figure all this out and describes her fits and starts… but she grew in wisdom/insight since Better than Before.

          I think it’s almost time to revisit Happier Project with a newer edition–footnote references to insight from Better than Before–because as she noticed in the book, TRYING to be happier can make you less happy as you try too hard to get to more perfect happiness.

          By the time she applies all her Secrets to Adulthood to Better than Before –after the light went on about how truly very differently people are motivated to adopt/maintain good habits–she grew in understanding and brought her readers along with her.

          You will not regret reading her books… easy reads (and cheap now that they’re all out in paperback).
          Also I really appreciate that she writes from a woman’s perspective but if men can be talked into reading them they resonate with them too. And adding Elizabeth’s POV in the podcasts was a stroke of genius since Elizabeth as an obliger/working mother is more “every woman” … while Gretchen with her “Upholder” tendency is actually , as she describes herself, “a rare and extreme” personality! Her husband, a questioner, is a good foil too as vast majority of us see ourselves as Questioners or Obligers.
          But the Rebel tendencies… I mean. Most teenagers, right? But they are forced to grow out of it to earn a living. I LOVE that she added Eliza’s voice as it helps me get into the head of my daughter who is her age and facing the same stresses/distractions that I did not have to face as a teen (social media mainly/helicopter parenting too).

          I think people who are depressed (situationally or clinically) ACT so much like rebels, which causes them (and their loved ones) a lot of problems. Whether Rebel is their “TRUE” tendency or if (hopefully) they bounce back to an easier tendency to live with (questioner, obliger, or upholder) is what I’m interested in. But she interviewed this successful scientist who somehow used her Rebel tendencies to succeed in a field w/ me.

          There are shades of gray in life. I think the Tendencies are not as black and white as Gretchen emphasizes (but as an Upholder, I see why she THINKS they are clear lines)…I think they are meant as PRIMARY tendencies, but I know we all have habits and motivations in all categories depending on the habit we’re trying to establish/keep.

          Somethings (at work) I may have questioned, but I necessarily “obeyed” authority. I just heard about a kid melting down at bat when umpire made a “bad” call. His coach called timeout and said, “What did the umpire call that ball?” “A strike,” the kid admitted.
          “Then it was a strike,” said coach.

          In other words, bad calls are part of the game. You want to play? You have “obligation” to roll with that “responsibility” … A rebel might quit, but that’s his loss. A questioner can ask for a replay review (in football) but reversals are rare. An Upholder would just accept the call as would an Obliger. And still be “happy.”

          It’s fascinating to suddenly look at the world in a new way thru the lens of the 4 tendencies. But Gretchen is right. The Habit-Forming Tendencies need modifers attached to them so people “get” that it is just a framework to discover what motivates us to adopt/change our HABITS.

          OMG. did not mean to write a book-long response. As the NYTimes editor said, “Forgive me. I did not have time to write a short response.”

          • 🙂

            You’re awesome!

            Your second paragraph convinced me you got it! By the end of the ‘book length’ passage you were ready to take over the ‘happiness project’!

            Two thoughts I’ll leave you with:
            1. In order to be better it may not always be necessary to ‘know’ the problem.

            2. Dialogue, particularly listening, is not necessarily always for the ‘other’ person.

            And a third:

            3. In the long run egoism and altruism look the same.

            Perhaps I’ll desire to read the books someday, but what I enjoy the most is just observing the different ways different people think. People are fascinating!

  • Éléonore

    So thankful u made an episode during Christmas vacations! Eleanor was super cute when she said I thought we were a cleaner family! Children have such an amazing way to answer questions and get to the truth! I was laughing ’cause I didn’t admit it but it IS kind of the reason I do not want a dog in the house :/ !!

    I am still looking for a special end lf the year/new year kind of ritual…. Its been the harder year of my life and I don’t wanna do the rituals I usually do. Still thinking about it.

    Have a happy healthy lovely New Year G & E! Xxx

    • gretchenrubin


  • Mickey

    The Four Natural Tendencies … in a nature/nurture sort of way. Love all your work, Gretchen!

  • Éléonore

    You are so right when you talk about goals vs actions… I want to make my relationship with my brother stronger. I wanted that last year, but didn’t succeed. I need to know the actions that I could do or figure out something I concrete I can do for that. Do you have tips to how to figure out or try concrete actions? It is kind of scary. I remember Gretchen saying she wanted to be closer to her sister in the past.

    • mom2luke

      Try “The power of scheduling.” My brother ( a lawyer) died unexpectedly 2 years ago. I was kicking myself I never once scheduled lunch with him tho we both worked downtown within a few blocks! — even a short lunch with carry out food on a park bench would’ve been the perfect way to spend time alone with him. One of my many regrets. Whatever your tendency, “Just do it.” (Although I guess that will be easier if you’re an Upholder! And do it via email if you hate phone calls.) Good luck. (And if you’re an Obliger, I’ll ask if you could do it for ME since I can no longer lunch with my brother.) (and if you’re a Rebel: I don’t know how to make rebels do anything! 🙂

  • Janis

    Loved today’s podcast – made me smile from beginning to end. You, your sister and two daughters – so blessed. Wishing you all the best and happiness in 2016! And I just finished listening to Eliza’s podcasts – terrific!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • YogaChick

    Eleanor was just adorable and frankly I burst into tears when she gave her gold star. My daughter has been wanting a dog for so long and I’ve been previously opposed…then on the fence…then in mild favor of, but dragging my feet. Truth is – I also felt we “weren’t that kind of family” but I’ve known it would make her happier and I feel confirmation after listening to today’s podcast. Life is too short and I too want to lighten up (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc) and getting a dog is a big (gigantic, actually) step in the lightening up category. And I believe we will ALL be much happier. Thanks – I just loved today’s episode!

    • gretchenrubin

      Eleanor will be thrilled to hear that she helped persuade you to get a family dog!

  • Ellen

    Your daughters are so well spoken!! Must be all that reading:)

  • Joanna Quinn

    Every year I make a resolution to stop biting my nails and fail every time. I bite my nails when anxious (driving) or bored (TV). From your research, my reward needs to reinforce the behavior. Maybe I can reward myself rings, which would only make my hands look even cooler. Last years resolutions (which I kept) were to give up sugar for a whole year (by feb 7th of this year-I started late) and chocolate bars for a whole year which I did, tomorrow! I do paleo 🙂 It just seems dumb I can’t do something as “easy” as to not bite my nails when I did these other difficult resolutions, which I will continue doing because they help keep my skin clear. Paleo started as extrinsic motivation because my dermatologist told me to go paleo, so the first year of it I had to check in with her and I knew if I got off the diet she’d know bc my skin would be worse.. then once I realized how big a difference diet made I kept going and the paleo diet transferred to intrinsic motivation/desire to keep improving my skin. Im pretty sure Im a mix of upholder and obliger with more upholder tendencies…. so maybe if I tell my best friend to check in with me and make sure I send her a picture of my nails at the end of each week I’ll feel like I HAVE to do it. And once my nails look nice maybe the motivation will become intrinsic like it did with paleo???

    • What I am going to say, isn’t going to make any difference…now…but maybe down the line you’ll be able to apply it.

      The hidden understanding behind real winning, success and even self-improvement is the power of faith backed by emotion.

      I would hazard to guess, that when you have beautiful nails (or any other seemingly insurmountable dream) (and you will!), it won’t be because of some tangible cause (though they do help!). The realization of the dream will be the manifestation of a state of mind that you created simultaneously both on your own and with other people.

      In two sentences I will say what I mean, but to really understand it you’ll need to do a lot more work:

      Faith is a state of mind that is influenced by self-suggestion. Faith by itself is powerless; but faith backed by positive emotions such as love, sex, romance, music, enthusiasm (there are a couple more that I am missing) can move mountains (Napoleon Hill). Every time that I have accomplished something I never dreamed I could do, I could see the influence of faith + emotion behind my accomplishments.

      This is simple to write down, but, like most of life, it can be difficult to apply.

      Good luck!


      And your fingers + nails are already beautiful!

    • mom2luke

      Or maybe you try replacing the chewing/biting habit w something else like gum?

    • Victoria

      On a more prosaic, practical note – my husband has managed to stop a lifelong habit of picking and biting his fingers and nails by the simple tactic of wearing gloves for driving – he felt a bit daft to start with but it really works! You’d probably only need to do it for a while to break the habit – and you could have a pair by the sofa for when you’re watching TV too! Just a thought…

      • Joanna Quinn

        The glove thing will work out awesome for winter since I live in New England. I’ll have to really make sure I always keep them on, even when the car heats up. And yea thats probably a good idea for TV watching too since thats when I do it the MOST. Great ideas. Thanks!

  • Lynne Rohde

    The Four Self-Revealing Tendencies !
    I think we all ‘know’ things about ourselves, our principles -or lack thereof–but Better Than Before and the 4 Tendencies tells us it is OK to embrace those parts of ourself and offers ways to excel because of who we are not inspite of it. I am an Obliger, an abstainer, and I am impulsive. I will work with my Lynne-ness and honor who I am. The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to navigate this crazy fast-paced world. Love your book and the podcast

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestion!

  • zurisays

    The Four Accountability Tendencies, The Four Motivational Tendencies, The Four Drives. The Four Get Things Done Tendencies.

    • artie

      I like Motivational!

    • Mimi Gregor

      Since the backbone of these tendencies seems to be how we handle accountability, I think the Four Accountability Tendencies is the best designation.

      • me

        But the acronym is FAT! UGH! lol

      • I think you’re on to something. I’m starting to think that we’re not thinking of the term Tendency correctly, which is making it hard to find the right word combination. The 4 Tendencies are more Attitudes; attitudes themselves are not something that are permanent. In different contexts, a different attitude may be more prevalent. The Four Accountability Attitudes: Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, Rebel.

    • Jill

      I just Google for “Rubin Tendencies” and it works every time.

      These words are not hard to match up with the Rubin tendencies: MUST, SHOULD, WON’T, WHY. I am a Rebel, which explains my observation over the years that “I am my own worst enemy” when it comes to meeting my goals.

      • gretchenrubin


  • May I suggest — THE FOUR EYE-OPENING TENDENCIES. I do so wish that I had realized that I was an obliger 50 years ago, as I was entering adolescence. It would have changed my life!

  • Jeanne

    Name for the Tendencies – I’m going to do a presentation on Better than Before to my women’s group sometime in this new year (a very intelligent group of New Thought thinkers), and I can hear their objections already. All about resistance to being “labeled” or “put into a box.” After all, this is a group who believes in all possibilities, So when I talk about the Tendencies, I always preface it by emphasizing that they are general tendencies not labels, and that they are intended to encourage self-knowledge, not boxes. Who more than open-at-the-top thinkers should be able to realize that everything begins with awareness, and that the spiritual path is taking what is unconscious and making it more conscious, by whatever means. That said… I’ve started calling the Tendencies the “Go-To Tendencies.” When confronted with something like a demand or expectation, where do you go first? What’s automatic? That’s your tendency. Not that we need to stick with our first reaction, but that it’s important to understand and be aware of our “go-to” place. This may not be a good idea for the name, but it is a good way to describe the whole tendency structure in a way that lets people know that it’s not about labeling, limiting or boxing. It is about “know thyself” and “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

  • Michelle

    When I was a child, our family’s special place was the Alameda Plaza Hotel (now the Intercontinental Hotel) in Kansas City. If we earned good grades, played in a piano recital or similar, we got to ride in the glass walled exterior elevator which we all thought was the height of sophistication. The unintended consequence was that we encouraged each other because if someone did something worthy, we ALL got to ride in the elevator (although only the “special” kid got to push the button). As an adult, I appreciate the genius of this….so simple, yet, so special.

    • gretchenrubin

      I LOVE that elevator! I got married in that hotel.

  • Jay

    I can’t think of one word to put in the title, but my suggestion would be to use a sentence to describe… The Four Tendences, knowing how your habits shape your life (or whatever best describes the book).
    Love your podcast! Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us.

  • Jessemy

    Four Cardinal Tendencies…or four cardinal responses to expectations.

  • The Four Habitual Tendencies? I find that the tendencies describe our approach and response to habits and patterns so well.

  • Annie

    The Four Character Tendencies?

  • Judy

    Motivating was the first word that came to mind.

  • JerseyGator

    Your podcast reminded me of the importance of a “third space.” Everywhere we have lived we have found that communal spot which allowed us to relax and reconnect: a bookstore, a coffee shop, a park. We are trying to find the perfect “third space” in our new home, but are always sure to go back to our third spaces when we travel back home. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place

  • gretchenrubin

    Love the mottos! Thanks for the kind words, and good luck for your BETTER 2016!

  • Monica

    I have enjoyed your podcasts and look forward to them each week. Thanks to you and Elizabeth for taking the time to produce them.

    My suggestions are:

    The Four Response Tendencies, The Four Reaction Tendencies or The Four Reaction Response Tendencies.

    Happy New Year and all the best to you and your family in 2016.

  • Carol

    I resolved to try 52 new recipes this year. I’m planning on taking a picture of each creation and posting it on Facebook. That will make me accountable to myself and a few of my friends will bug me if I fall behind. Also, for people who want to read more, the app Goodreads allows you to set up a reading challenge for the year and when you record on the app what you read, it shows up on your reading challenge how you’re doing. I did it last year and in November, it reminded me that I still had 10 books to read to meet my goal.

  • HumCoMom

    First I want to say, Joanna Goodwin below, your motto “Convince Me” is the first I’ve heard for questioner that I feel is succinct enough to encapsulate my personality.
    Second of all, I was a bit behind on episodes, and I wanted to say how surprised I was when Gretchen brought up the person who hates to be questioned.
    As a questioner I can vouch for that tendency, as I loathe being questioned. When I mentioned it to my husband he said “That explains a lot.” 😉
    Speaking only for myself, I feel like I spend a lot of time coming to a decision, even a small decision like where to eat, so when someone questions me about something I get very frustrated by it. Almost as if they should have the telepathy to know all the reasons already, about why this is the very best choice. In my mind I chose this course after much deliberation, there for it IS the very best choice, I shouldn’t have to explain myself.

    I’m sure that sounds bizarre… but your comments really struck a chord with me and I had to share. 😀


  • me

    I love you Gretchen and Elizabeth, I really do.
    I love hearing about strategies and habits but lately it seems like your podcasts are all about “Oh my wonderful mother” or “Oh my best friend Mindy and her perfect daughter” and “her amazing dad” and “Here is my adorable 10 year old talking” and here is a famous person. I guess I feel like the podcast is turning into a “Life with two sisters” instead of the intellectual educational kind that I really appreciated before. I’m so sorry to send a demerit but I want less “My life is so great and my daughters are perfect and my friends are amazing and their parents are the bomb, etc” and more “Happier and Habit ideas”. I do love you guys and I hope that the podcasts get back on track.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the suggestion! Much to ponder.

      • Marie Murray

        Just to weigh in here, I love that the podcast has a familiar feel to it, and love that you two are always honoring the people in your life. I’d argue that your dynamic merits a gold star for throwing just the right amount of warmth in with the wealth of educational content!

        • gretchenrubin

          Thanks, that’s nice to hear!

        • Reena

          I was going to say the same thing – I love that you talk so much about your families in the podcast. As women, we are often taught that bringing our family life into our work life is unprofessional, but honestly, it’s these little things that the people that are closest to you do that can add so incredibly to your happiness. And sometimes they are things that don’t sound so amazing or groundgreaking when you say them, but your gold stars and demerits always remind me that those things are the places I need to focus.

  • Marie Murray

    The Four Social Tendencies

  • Doctor Zil

    Gretchen – I want to suggest a book for you (and maybe Eliza) by Frank Bruni of the NYT called Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. It’s about how young people and their parents can sometimes get caught up in a sense of panic about SATs and college admissions, and basically that there’s a ton of research to show that people should calm down a bit as they can be hugely successful by going through lots of different college paths, not just necessarily the ones we’ve all been conditioned to think of as “elite.” I wanted to share since I also have a HS junior and can see how some approach the whole testing/admissions process with so much stress, and it’s truly not necessary or, obviously, healthy. It’s a really fascinating book with loads of interesting stories and profiles, as well as a huge amount of data and stats and I think you’d get a lot out of it.

  • Reena

    omg, I LOVE ELIZA’S PODCAST!! Even though I am in my 30s, it just feels like the 16-year-old inside me is talking to me from inside my head. Of course, Eliza is so much cooler than I was at that age, but just the way she talks and thinks about things speaks deeply to that part of me from high school that was just trying to find my own identity. I love it Eliza! Keep it coming! I wish I had had your podcast when I was 16!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! that’s so great to hear. I’ll tell her!

  • Wow, that’s one ginormous closet. Love seeing you all!

  • DCB

    Expectations Tendencies. That’s what I call them when I lecture, er, I mean, introduce folks to the idea. Sometimes I call them “Habit Helpers,” but that’s a bit ambiguous. Good luck!