Podcast 48: Create a Temporary Photo Gallery, and Do You Suffer from the Sunday Blues?

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

Update: We’re thrilled! Our first live show is tomorrow! And it has SOLD OUT. Yowza. If you’re coming to the Brava Theater on January 21, when we record an episode live, want a chance to be on the show? Email us with your New Year’s resolution, and maybe we’ll get to talk about it on stage. Send an email to podcast@gretchenrubincom, with the subject line “New Year’s resolution.”

Update: Henry joins us to tell us some fascinating listener responses to the question about New Year Rituals.

Try This at Home: Create a temporary photo gallery in your house. I mention this behind-the-scenes video from Happier at Home where I show the photo gallery I put up only for Valentine’s Day.

Happiness Stumbling Block — with Special Guests. Laura Mayer and Sarah Bentley from Panoply join us to talk about the happiness stumbling block of the Sunday blues. Do you suffer from the Sunday blues? How do you deal with it?

Listener Question: Brett asks, “Does maintaining relationships with unhappy friends and family  have to be toxic to your own happiness?”

 Gretchen’s Demerit : I keep tinkering with the parts of my book draft that are already good, instead of focusing my attention on the Introduction — doing what’s fun instead of what matters most.

 Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the Harry Potter audio-books. So good!


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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!

HAPPIER listening!

  • Wendy

    I have to say Audio books on a road trip are a fabulous gold star! My favorite is The Chronicles of Narnia with each book read by a different British actor! I would often drive a few extra loops in the neighborhood just to hear a little more. It’s also a great way to make a morning commute much better. Instead of being frustrate when the freeway comes to a halt you can enjoy a little more of the story.

    Thanks for all the great info you include in your podcast. I listen while I prepare dinner and am always the better for it! I even feel my mood lift when I hear your opening music!


  • micblonde

    I do have a Christmas “temporary photo gallery” – every Christmas I put out framed pictures of my kids sitting on Santa’s lap each year.

    P.S. Missing Eliza’s podcast!!!

  • tcd

    I loved this podcast. My new new year’s actvity has become creating a small inexpensive (5X7 photo book) highlighting the events of the year! I’m thinking of going back and doing one for 2014 also since you can organize photos by date!
    I have drop box and my phone camera downloads automaticaly go to my computer so it couldn’t be easier.

    Also, the advice on how NOT to try cheer someone up was priceless. I love the idea of valuing their experience, why didn’t that occur to me before?

    Thank you so much for all of the great content!

  • debbiedarline

    I had another thought about maintaining relationships with unhappy friends and family. My more melancholy friends and family members seem to be emotional “scuba-divers” that plumb the depths of their hardest experiences. They often turn to me (an emotional “snorkeler”) to love and support them through listening. This can become very draining, mostly because of the frequency of these conversations. It has really helped to move the conversations to a different time of day (earlier vs. late-at-night) and then limit the amount of time I spend listening (preferably less than one hour). That way I can be a supportive, empathetic and active listener rather than just avoiding the conversations. I do lunch rather than dinner and return phone calls in the morning or early afternoon, rather than late at night.

  • I’ve been listening for months now and I love this podcast, Gretchen and Elizabeth! I’ve recommended it to friends and family. So, I know I’m late to this particular topic, but Gretchen and Elizabeth have talked about the Treadmill desk in multiple episodes and I keep meaning to comment. My sister has a Treadmill desk and loves it. I can’t picture working and walking at the same time; however I bought a Standing Desk and I LOVE it! So if you can’t walk and work, you can stand and work and still get some health benefits. You burn more calories standing than sitting! My Standing desk is from Varidesk. It sits on my regular desk and adjusts easily from flat to different heights; I have a laptop and second monitor on it (as well as other supplies) and never worry about either while I’m adjusting the height. It comes with an app to remind you to stand up and sit down, according to times you schedule and will tell you how many calories you burned while standing. I bought my Varidesk through Amazon. I really love this item and just wanted to share an alternative to the Treadmill desk.

    • LoriM

      I am fascinated by the Varidesk as it gives you both options.

  • LoriM

    So glad to see the video and hear more about how you do your photo gallery!

    Since I read your book, I’ve been wondering how you did the gallery. I’ve actually starting doing mine by SEASONS, since we live in the Midwest where we have all four seasons (and we have a lake home) so we have many opportunities for pretty photos. We have two 3YO grandchildren now – a girl and a boy – and I’m trying to get “typical seasonal” photos of them each season and displaying them in easy-to-switch out frames. I’m really liking this because it gets those digital photos PRINTED (and I also print extras for family at same time). Also, as you mentioned – we can look at the photos thru the years and see how the kids are growing.

    We are often in Costco so I can easily send photos there via the Internet, and then, every time we go to Costco, I can “check for photos”. We also have a huge bulletin board in our kitchen so extra photos, greeting cards, kid’s crafts, etc. – can go there – and be switched out each season.

    This is all definitely making me happier – thanks, Gretchen! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your books and podcast

  • Barb Wilson

    Elizabeth–For your photo printing challenge: I can recommend the Shutterfly app which allows you to order photos right from your phone. You can have them mailed to you or even pick them up at Target in one hour if you prefer. If you mostly want to order photos taken with an older SLR camera, (and never get around to uploading them to your computer) there are wifi cards you can buy that will enable sending photos from the SLR camera to your phone. (newer cameras may have that feature built in).
    For printing photos at home, I like my Canon MG7500 printer. Prints photos well. Can also print directly from your phone although I’ve never done that. Ink prices can get $$ but if you do the math, it’s about the same as ordering prints from elsewhere (non sale price).
    We also have a digital photo frame sitting on the kitchen counter. Even though I rarely change the photos, I find myself drawn to watching the photos flip by. More noticeable than static photo frames for sure.

    • lisagd22

      My brother and SIL gave me a digital frame with pictures of my niece and nephew. About once a year I have them add some current pictures, but I make sure they keep some older ones. It’s so fun to watch the kids change through the years.

  • Barbara

    Cure for the Sunday blues — Release the Happier Podcast on Mondays!

  • Kjaydee

    I used to suffer from the Sunday Blues big time! But a very very wise friend once told me “Don’t let your Monday ruin your Sunday!” And anytime I feel them coming on, I repeat that mantra. It really helps! I also make sure to get anything I want to do done before Sunday so I can use Sunday to relax and enjoy.

  • RS

    As a title for your book, how about “The Four Hard-Wired Tendencies”?

  • Victoria

    I don’t think my Sunday blues are particularly connected with “dread” about Monday and the working week – I generally quite enjoy the routine of the working week. I think Elizabeth captured my experience best, when she talked about having too much choice on Sundays, and having to make decisions about how to spend the time. It almost feels like I clear the decks so that Sunday can be restful and relaxing, but when I get to Sunday I’m antsy and anxious, and can’t decide what I want to do. I could choose a million different things, and I think that’s the problem! It feels so important to really use this special day well, and not waste it, but then I end up spoiling it by feeling anxious and grumpy. I’m much better these days than I used to be – mostly just by not giving myself such a hard time, and “identifying the problem”. I’m trying hard to be more spontaneous; I like to plan ahead (I’m an Obliger with more than a tinge of Upholder) whereas my Rebel husband prefers to wake up in the morning and see what he feels like doing! I’m trying to go with the flow more now, unless something really needs planning ahead of time. This seems to help me feel calmer and happier at the weekends. Great episode, thanks!

  • Carrie N

    I do something similar to the temporary photo gallery. I don’t remember how I came up with the idea. Basically I have a scrapbook for each major holiday and one for birthdays. They are all titled *Holiday* through the years (i.e. Christmas through the years). Then I add a page each year highlighting the occasion. It took a couple of years but now I absolutely love going through them.

  • Kirsty

    I have just started reading Better than Before for the second time, and feel that my new prompt to anything I can’t organise, arrange, do better…is “What would Gretchen do?”. As always your books seem to come along at a time in my life when I need a push. Classic Obliger here. So..I’ve signed up to Only Human, to kickstart my effort to preserve my health the long-term, scheduling so that I don’t procrastinate and acting the way I want to feel- as if I’m in charge of life rather than it’s in charge of me.

  • Brynn Whitney Carter

    I love the harry potter audio books, though i havent had the guts to spend money and dowmload them yet.
    Also, how about the “four motivational tendencies”? Or something along those lines. I mean, the tendencies are kind of all about how you become motivated to do or not to something, and this name is nice and straightforward.

  • Jill

    Our family listened to Jim Dale read out loud from the Harry Potter books from 2000 onwards, always in the van, wherever we went. If it was the FIRST time through a tape, often on a big holiday trek, everyone would-be extra “spell-bound!” Even when we stopped for a bathroom break, no-one would want to get out of the van until the story action was at a suitable stopping point! My daughters and I went through the entire book series on tape/cd numerous times, learning more details and insights each go-around, and it was a real bonding process. All the kids’ friends I drove around soon learned there was no talking at the same time as the tape, that one had to engage with the story, and they did. Recently one posted he had gotten his own download of Jim Dale reading HP for a long car-trip with his new wife. My youngest child was 11 when we began these travels with Harry Potter and Jim Dale. She was the same age as Harry as the books came out, so they entered Hogwarts together…

  • Amy

    My best friend and I have terrible Sunday blues. We email each other almost every Sunday about it. We call it Sunday Night Freak Out or SNFO (pronounced snafu). The suggestion of planning something good for Monday and thinking about who you could help were great ones. I have also started listening to the Happiness podcast on Sunday.

  • Amy Larissa

    I love listening to both you and Elizabeth – the warmth, reality and fun come through so well in your discussions, even when you both agree to disagree. It feels real. What prompted me to write is this cast. I stopped dead in my tracks while walking my dog and listening to this cast. Sunday Blues. Nobody I know gets that way and my husband never understood why I get so moody. I can remember getting them as early as first grade and I am in my middle ages now and still get them. Its a roller coaster some years have been harder than others, where I would also breakdown and cry and just sleep all day. I’ve tried scheduling super fun events that day to get my mind off it, or treating myself and saying I can do whatever I want, but then get angry because I don’t feel productive – nothing has worked. While I’ve come to accept it, it feels like settling and still gets me sometimes. I loved the idea of thinking about who I am going to help in the new week. Feeling useful is magical for me as well. Thank you!

  • Jill C.

    One of things talking about displaying family photos – (besides the traditional school photos) I always purchase a different professional family photo or photos of my kids poses than those that I give to my family because then different photos are displayed in my house vs. what they see in their houses.

  • Bill Eaton

    I felt like the caller asking for advice

  • Teri1147

    2 comments: As a Stay at Home Mom of 4 school age kids (6-14 yrs old) I get the Friday afternoon blues. Actually the every day at 2 pm blues are common as well!! I love my kids of course but I very much enjoy my quiet house with no one yelling at me or demanding my attention. Sometimes the thought of the oncoming weekend full of family stuff is quite overwhelming. Planning on a date night with my husband really helps. It reminds me that amidst all the kid crazy, there will still be adult time.

    Also, in 2014 I took my 4 kids, then 12, 10, 4 and 5, on a 7500 mile road trip from Orlando, FL to Alberta, CA and back. We listened to 7 1/2 of the Harry Potter books and they literally saved my sanity!! It was fabulous!

  • Anna

    I just listened to this instalment of the podcast yesterday, and I was glad to hear again how to respond to gloomy/unhappy people: ‘acknowledge their feelings’. I learned that from Gretchen’s book, and it has made an enormous difference in the interactions with my husband, who is a reel Eeyore. I now commiserate with him, and even sometimes go a tiny bit further, i.e. ‘out-glooming’ him a little. Would you believe, that often sparks a positive reaction from him (because he wants to be right more than he wants to be gloomy!). How interesting! Note I must not overdo this one or it might become obvious.

  • lisagd22

    Every year, my SIL makes photo calendars for everyone in our (small) family. She uses Shutterfly’s templates to add several pictures of my niece and nephew to each month’s page and marks birthdays and anniversaries on the calendar grid. The pictures for each month were taken in the same month of the previous year (June’s pictures were taken last June, etc.). When she can, she uses pictures of the kids with the person receiving the calendar. It’s a lot of work for her, but we all love those calendars and look forward to getting them each year.
    I get the Sunday blues in the sense that I feel like I’m in limbo most of the day. I don’t let myself sleep late like I’d like to on Sundays so that I’ll be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour Sunday night. I don’t want to start anything like a new book or project because I probably won’t get back to it until the following weekend. I don’t want to go anywhere because it’s my last day of freedom before I go back to work, yet I don’t do much of anything at home, so I feel like I’ve wasted the whole day. If I DO do something, I feel like I was busy all weekend and didn’t relax. It seems like I spend most of Sunday just waiting for Monday to start, so I really don’t enjoy the free time I have. Then, as usual, I’m disappointed with myself.

  • Michael

    I woke up this morning thinking about the Sunday Night Freak Out (as one commentator called it). I realized it’s not caused by work. It’s caused by work crowding out everything else in your life, a.k.a. your life, which is going by! Who wouldn’t have a panic attack on Sunday night? Are you working, preparing to work, recovering from work, planning work, worrying about work, until you can’t even remember what it is you’re working for? My parents worked very hard, but I’m pretty sure there were times when they didn’t think about working: time to garden or to go to church or to be with friends and family. My dad in particular never seemed to be rushed, never made a list, slept well. When I was a student I worked hard to finish my work so I could go goof off. When are you finished? Now, everyone seems to have twice the work they could possibly do and it’s worrisome to figure out what is the most important thing to work on and to not worry about the things not getting done. So the economy is efficient, but people aren’t happy. Does it really need to be this difficult? The solution: be “happier at home.” Hardly an original thought! And not just cooking and cleaning and paying bills all the time. I’m going to send digital photos of some of my favorite people to get printed and to put one of them in a frame I almost threw out. Right now. Really.

  • Julia

    A calendar made up of old and not so old photos is a great way to have a temporary display of your favourite pictures, I’m in the habit of creating these every December for the following year and giving them as family presents.

    • Maddmum

      That’s exactly what I do! A great idea as them we can remember the previous year a month at a time. The grandparents love them as Christmas presents 🙂 I get them professionally printed (doesn’t have to be expensive) and I personalize the photos for each person – a bit more work.
      I have been doing this for 6 years now and it’s great to go back and flick through the years so easily.

  • Liz Statz

    I am decluttering and didn’t like the photo gallery on my fridge that has accumulated over the years. I took them off and have a clean fridge door but I missed the photos. So, I bought magnetic frames and put them on the metal door that goes from the house into the garage. Now each time I leave the house I am reminded of friends and family and all of the good times we have shared. Love seeing them each morning and it starts my day off on a good note.

    Liz Statz – Maple Grove, MN

  • Lydia Komonko

    Elizabeth! Your New Year Ritual should be to print all your favourite photos from the past year 🙂

  • Debby

    I have organized photo albums in iphoto and use them as my desktop and screensavers. I change them depending on the month or time of year. I have everything from individual holiday folders , each child’s Birthday folder, summertime folder, vacation folder. This way when my computer goes to rest mode I see so many of my favorite photos drift across the screen. It makes me smile every time, and then I am excited to see the next month’s screensaver!

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  • Laura

    I loved Elizabeth’s comment about how sometimes she looks forward to Monday because she doesn’t have to make any decisions about where to go or what needs to be done. I feel exactly the same way. Some weekends, especially ones with little planned, I suffer from decision fatigue. I thought I was the only one!

  • kacherry87

    Late to the game, but one thing that I have realized helps me with the Sunday blues is BBQing hamburgers with my family and eating outside in the nice weather. Something about the slowness I associate with BBQ’s – easy, fun, summer time activity – helps me ease into the coming week.