Podcast 66: Why It’s Helpful to Give Advice Only When Asked, and the Challenges of Email Etiquette and Vacation Hangovers.

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

Update: We got many interesting responses to the “Stop stockpiling” discussion from episode 62.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. I talk to viewers about questions, comments, suggestions. You can watch the most recent one here. If you want to join the conversation live, I do them on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern. Join in!

Try This at Home: Only give advice when it’s asked for. Harder than it sounds. If you want to watch the short scene I mentioned from Star Wars, it’s here.

Advice can be tiresome, but it can also be life-transforming. So…

For our next Very Special Episode, episode 70, let us know: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? For work, love, parenting, life…what really made the difference? Let us know! Email us at podcast @ gretchenrubin .com, comment below, or best of all, call us. We’d love to hear your voice as you tell the story.  774-277-9336 (77 HAPPY 336).

Happiness Stumbling Block: Email etiquette. Email issues come up all the time.

Listener Questioner: Sarah asks for tips for readjusting after a great trip away — the “vacation hangover.”

Gretchen’s Demerit: For a whole day, I didn’t meaningfully engage with any member of my family. I was just lost in my own thoughts, and going through the motions.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s kindergarten class had a terrific “Young Authors” program.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #66

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HAPPIER listening!

  • Courtney Hunt

    My father used to say, whenever my sister and I complained about some situation, “Make the best of it.” I repeat his advice to my seven year old son all the time.

  • Ruth Carter

    The best advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother. She said that I should never attempt to reason with unreasonable people. It’s true that it’s a futile endeavour but I find it hard to resist. Ultimately though, it brings me more peace if I don’t argue and recognise that the other people’s opinions wouldn’t change anyway.

    • gretchenrubin

      GREAT advice.

    • Michelle Potter

      This is very similar to the best advice my mother ever gave me. It was about how to handle unwanted advice! Remember that the advisor probably has your best interest at heart, so “smile, nod, and do whatever you were going to do anyway!”

  • Tara

    My parents and in-laws are great about not giving advice unless asked. However, I do feel it’s important to remember to ask. Parents have great advice and even if we don’t always take their advice we are both enriched by the asking. My sister-in-law loves to give advice, I make it a point to ask her advice frequently – it makes both of us happier! So – only give advice when asked, but remember many love to give their advice so give them the opportunity to do so.

    • gretchenrubin

      I so agree. Good advice is so useful!

  • JB

    Don’t be afraid to fail because failure is fertilizer for success.

  • Erin

    I was interviewing for a new job in a new city and telling my mom that I didn’t think I’d accept it because I just couldn’t picture myself there, it didn’t feel like me. She told me that if I only did the things I could imagine myself doing, I’d miss the best parts of life.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great advice.

  • Darcy Fournier

    The best piece of advice I ever got was a gift, a little 365 page journal with writing prompts called “Do Something Everyday That Scares You”. As someone who is so indecisive it was nice to be nudged to expand out of my comfort zone from things as little as “which route should I drive home,” to “should I agree to go on the international business trip even though I’ll be alone?” I keep even just the title of this book in my head as a daily reminder and it’s made a huge difference. Best gift I’ve ever received! I love to look back and track all the things I’ve accomplished since having it; and who knew doing things alone wasn’t nearly as scary as it seems?

  • Liz Ragland

    During my college years I was very involved with my sorority’s executive board. We dealt with some tough decisions and some rough times (kicking out older members for hazing new members was a very upsetting time for us). We’d always get caught up in how our chapter wasn’t doing well or how we felt stuck and never though we’d get past an issue or how a decision we’d make would make the rest of the chapter mad. But our chapter’s alumnae advisor, Millisa, would swoop in and give us this fantastic advice: “It is only a moment and the moment will pass”. I’m a very anxious person and now, as an adult, I get so worried that a happy feeling won’t last as long as I want it to or I dread that a down time in my life will go on and on forever. It’s important to remember that things are always in motion, always changing. It reminds me that I should appreciate and enjoy the great moments that are happening right now and not to worry when there are not-so-great moments because things will change (and usually, for the better).

    • gretchenrubin

      Great advice.

  • I Pledged Allegiance

    I have one for myself , whether its useful to anybody else or not is up to them. Its more of a personal rule of thumb. And it is to never try and argue with a black woman. Im sorry its not politically correct, im not racist, i rarely even argue with anyone, unless im being attacked personally then i might be defensive

  • JenEm

    Regarding putting off email responses because you are waiting for the right / enough time: A dear friend and I had this same issue, which resulted in guilt filled emails only once or twice a year. This year we implemented the 10 minute email where we just do a stream of consciousness email for 10 min and hit send. We’ve now exchanged more emails in the last 5 months than probably in the last five years combined. The time writing usually ends up to be more than 10 minutes, but if I think “I only need 10 min to jot XX a note” I usually find the time within a week or two of receiving one.

  • Owen

    One of the best pieces of advice I received was “Sign up for your 401k!” A coworker (I cannot remember his name) literally forced me to do this as a fresh-out-of-college employee – he even walked me through the paperwork! Now firmly in middle age, I’m so grateful for that prompting. Retirement doesn’t scare me the way it does many of my peers.

    • gretchenrubin

      What a GREAT way to help someone else. It can be so intimidating to deal with things like that, and if someone urges you and helps you, makes a big difference.

  • Odette Bragg

    My mother gave me good advice in high school. She said, “Learn to type. You’ll always have a job.” She was right!

  • Michelle Potter

    Gretchen, I just wanted to say that I really empathize with you about being ready to get back to normal after a vacation! We don’t even actually go on vacation often, but whenever we have a school holiday here, I relax all of our routines to give my (homeschooled) children a chance to have fun and hang out with their friends. I’m listening to this episode about 3 months late, so I’m just coming to the end of summer, when our family bed times, wake times, meal times, and other routines have been in flux to allow for summer fun. And I’m about done with it! I’m counting the days until the start of school, so we can get back to normal!

    • Michelle Potter

      PS, can you guess that I’m an Upholder, too?

  • The best advice that I’ve received thus far, I was about 15. I have no idea where it even came from but I’ll never ever forget it: “If there’s absolutely nothing you can do about your problem right now, don’t waste energy worrying about it. Get on with life.” As a teenage drama queen, this helped me cope through many of the issues that a teenager goes through, and along the path of life to this day.

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