Podcast 49: Live from San Francisco! Travel without Tears, the Challenge of Public Speaking, and Special Guests.

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

Our live show! Boy, Elizabeth and I had a great time. Hear us live, at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. It was such a treat for us to get to record an episode in front of actual live listeners.

Usually, we do a Very Special Episode for every tenth episode. This is episode 49, but hey, close enough.

I mention one of my favorite episodes, episode 10, when we cleaned Elizabeth’s closet. Want to hear it? Listen here. Here’s a photo where you can see our special outfits.GretchenandElizabethPodcastLiveEventAfter (We’re standing in the amazing Walgreens in Union Square that Elizabeth mentions during the podcast.)

Try This at Home: Travel without tears. We talked about TSA pre-check in episode 11. I mention Nick’s Sticks. Yum.

Interview: Nir Eyal. Nir has founded and sold two technology companies, and he writes for a bunch of different places, teaches at places like Stanford, and consults to startups, venture capital firms, and incubators about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He has a great blog, Nir and Far, and he wrote Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. And he talks about being a Rebel. Fascinating. (Note: Henry had a little fun choosing Nir’s theme music.)

Nir’s Try This at Home: Burn or burn. A very Rebel Try This at Home.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Public speaking.

If you want to watch my interview with Matt Lauer (which I can’t bear to watch myself), you can see the whole thing here.

I mention Kelly McGonigal’s fascinating book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get at It.

Interview: Jake Knapp. Jake is a designer and facilitator here in SF. While working at Google, he created a “design sprint” — a five-day process to help teams answer big questions in just five days — used in the development of everything from Gmail to Chrome. Now Jake’s a design partner at Google Ventures, where he’s run more than 100 sprints with GV portfolio companies. He’s written Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days to explain how to do a sprint.

Jake’s Try This at Home: “Turn off the internet.”

Elizabeth mentions one of our very favorite podcasts, Start Up. If you want to listen to the episode where Jake and his team do a sprint with Gimlet, it’s #13, “Fake It Til You Make It.”

New Year’s Resolutions Booster for Two Audience Members:

Erin: Her New Year’s resolutions are to slow down, focus on family, and not sweat the small stuff.

Lauren: Her New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with her friends.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth used the loophole “I’m out of town!” to indulge in some bad eating habits.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to my husband’s liver doctor, Dr. Leona Kim-Schluger. Such a brilliant, caring doctor. If you want to give yourself a gold star, and if you support organ donation, sign the organ-donor registry here or use the hashtag #organdonor on social media.

Thanks to the audience, for being so terrific. We had so much fun. If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter or share the image below on Pinterest. 

1pixHappier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin #49

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to “Happier 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!

  • Judy

    Just listened to this podcast. Thanks for having a Rebel on the program. So interesting, my son also only wanted to apply to one college. Would love to hear more about Rebels. I really enjoyed listening to both guests and plan to read their books.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! great to hear it struck a chord with you.

  • Amanda

    Loved this episode and found myself wishing that all your podcasts could be an hour long! I am eager to read Nir’s book, sounds so interesting!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Natalie

    You are mentioned by name at least three times in a recent New Scientist magazine article about habits! I was like “I know her!”

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent, love it!

  • I love the “Try this at home” from this episode! I love traveling, but I always hated getting ready for the day (showering, doing my hair/makeup, etc) anywhere other than my home. It made the mornings while on the road less happy. Then I decided to look at WHY I liked getting ready at home – and realized it was because everything I needed was right where I needed it – product bottles in the shower, makeup easily accessible, hairbrush & toothbrush out on the counter, etc. While traveling I would get out of the shower, dripping wet, and have to dig through my suitcase to find everything I needed, all while tired and in need of coffee. So I started putting EVERYTHING in its place the night before – taking it all out of my bags, putting it where I needed it in the bathroom, and laying out my outfit for the next day. This made SUCH a big difference, and I now no longer dread this aspect of traveling! I also bought a lightweight, quick drying bathrobe to bring with me everywhere, which makes me so happy and more comfortable as well. http://www.telegraphhill.com/collections/kimono-bathrobes-kimono-seersucker-luxury-spa-robes-black-and-white-bathrobes/products/taupe-seersucker-kimono-robe

  • Jennifer

    This was a great special episode. I felt a strong frisson of jealousy when I heard your live audience in SF cheer at the opening! I’m in Sydney and I really wanted to be there!! You had two really interesting guests who provided much food for thought. Thanks as always, Jennifer

    • gretchenrubin


  • Ann Holmes

    One tip that I use is to get a laundry basket out and start filling it in the weeks before a trip. I have an 8 year old son and a 54 year old husband that don’t seem to plan ahead (ever) and so I start stockpiling their ‘special’ clothes and gear about a week or two ahead when I do the laundry. I put the items that will be needed or wanted – clothes that they wear all the time that they will want on the vacation – and this will save me from dealing with loads of laundry in the night before we leave … especially when they clue in that they are leaving and probably shouldn’t have worn something. They don’t know an item is missing and then it magically shows up in their packing pile or suitcase!

    Anytime I think of something in the weeks leading up to the trip, I put it in the basket. And then when it comes time to pack, I have things culled (and clean) in one place. Things like particular pairs of pj’s, goggles & bathing suits, special socks or t-shirts that they will want when we are away.

    Mom’s have a lot to manage to get out of the house before a trip (at least this is the case in our house!), so I try and plan ahead as much as I can! Lists are my friend!!!!!

  • Syamim H.

    In Kinokuniya Bookstore, KLCC, Malaysia.

  • Rob_Mk_II

    I do a lot of air travel for work, so I’ve had to learn to deal with it. My two guidelines are “Prepare to Walk; Prepare to Wait”. I wear shoes that will leave me able to walk again the next day, which usually means light ankle-spporting hiking boots, despite their being more difficult to get on and off through security. I also try to keep the luggage down to what can easily be carried. To prepare to wait, I always have snacks and lots to do/read/listen to on my iPad, plus one paper book in case you end up sitting for a *long* time. I also try to keep a change of clothes in my bacpack/carryon. That would give me something clean to wear while shopping if my bag went to Portland OR while I went to Portland ME, and helps to make the bag usable as a pillow if I have to nap on the airport floor, which seems to happen all too often lately. The snack/book prep overlaps one of your suggestions…

    • gretchenrubin

      I love this mantra! So useful.

  • Julie Buonocore

    The best travel thing I ever did for myself was create a permanent toiletry bag. I filled it with everything you could ever need on a trip: from shampoo to Q-tips, sunscreen, razors, nail clippers, a bottle opener, and tweezers. I keep it packed and in my closet so that if I’m ever invited out, for a night or for the week, I know I won’t forget anything I need and its so easy to grab and go.

    Another thing is to keep a master packing list. I know Gretchen suggested saving packing lists from each trip, but I HATE making them as there is always something I will leave off. So I created a master list for all weather, all occasions, and pick what I need off of it for a trip. No need to reinvent the wheel!

    • Cynthia

      I do the exact same thing: permanent travel toiletry bag and master packing list. It has made my life much easier. Don’t forget to include any medications you may need in the permanent travel bag!

  • Teresa

    I am not sure how much anyone is going to like this advice from a world travelling family (we homeschool our four kids), but my approach to our frequent travel is not lists. Here it is: For two days before a trip, stare everything down that you own and ask yourself if you’ll need it. Yup, kinda OCD. (And Im not an upholder). My husband always aspired to Pierce Brosnan approach in Thomas Crown Affair–a briefcase. Fifteen years later I still dont do that, but we have backpacked Italy as a sixsome, and he still only packs a couple pairs of pants everywhere we go (& as an upholder, those pants are kept spotless or washed immediately with any mess). One has to think how one is going to ‘pack’ clean water and food if you’re heading into the developing world, but almost always you can buy something you forgot wherever you are.

    We’ve done so much travelling even our fourteen year old packed for our seven year old on a recent trip to Jamaica. And the kids get excited going through airport security. Its a badge of honour when their hands are swiped or they’re scanned. (Frankly they did a better job of it than Ghanaian airport security last fall on our way into west Africa (yes West Africa in the ebola crisis, anywho, that’s a different discussion).
    My husband is presently recovering from a nasty head cold because of our three flightys and two-three hour drives from western Canada to the Caribbean last Friday. But I still say every effort expended on travel is always worth it. Carpe diem!

  • Paulene Turner

    Hi Gretchen, Just finished the Happiness and wanted to say thank you, it certainly gives you some ideas to try, among so many you’ve tried. Obviously, there was a lot there, but I’ll just start with a few things too. Yes, it was a good book to write. We do all get so caught up with busy schedules and focusing on things not being perfect (particularly ourselves) and we forget to enjoy the moment and the good things we have. And the years fly by. Can’t stop the time flying, but I’m going to use some of your strategies (a grateful diary, letting things go, trying something new ..to start with) to make sure the next year doesn’t slip through my fingers. Cheers Paulene

  • Joyce Dall’Acqua Peterson

    On the public-speaking topic, I have a tip that has served me very well–and trust me, I am NOT one of nature’s public speakers. If possible, get to the speaking venue early and chat with people as they come in. Find out where they’re from, how they heard about the program, etc. Believe it or not, you’re already a minor celebrity by the time it’s your turn to speak, and you’ll have lots of little nuggets to bring into your talk (“The people from Florida know what I mean”).

    If pre-talk chitchat isn’t an option, open your talk with some questions for the audience; it may feel corny to you but it really helps you connect with them.

    As Gretchen and Elizabeth have noted with respect to other anxiety-provoking human interactions, so often just focusing on others (trying to get your audience to have a good time) rather than your own insecurities is a powerful strategy!

  • Elena

    O M G. Lol, Gretchen, Elizabeth, I am loving the podcast so much… I kept hearing about it and, ahem, rebelliously was like, “I’m not listening to that, I’ll find my own way to be happy.” Can you imagine why I am commenting now? I am listening to Nir’s interview and I am blown away by what a rebel I am!!! Everything, everything! I am just laughing with how much i can relate to this guy. I will have to go back and take a listen to the series on the four tendencies. My husband is a total questioner, btw. It’s interesting. 😉

    • gretchenrubin

      It’s great to hear that it strikes a chord with you!

  • Megan Smith Drylie

    I’m slowly going through your old podcasts, so I know this is late, but I laughed at your comments about making a list when traveling. I laughed because that is so me. I have a packing list on my phone that is literally a list of everything we have forgotten on a trip at some point. I have to pull up the list every time I travel to determine which of those items need to be packed. And I apparently have always been this way. I’m attaching a packing list I made for a trip as a little girl. My mom found it while cleaning out a closet. I kind of wish I had thought to intentionally keep this list and others as mementos of the trips. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/405b7fd2484cd19b7827a96bcac5e8ff6c5cfdde65e765d68e87a705fb2b7e65.jpg