Podcast 64: Go Slow to Go Fast; What Do You Lie About; and a New Segment–the “Happiness Hack.”

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

Update: Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. I talk to viewers about questions, comments, suggestions. Any episode; don’t worry if you’re not caught up. You can watch the most recent one here or my video with our producer Henry, look here. If you want to join the conversation live, I’m doing them on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern. Join in! It’s so fun to have a chance to talk to listeners and viewers.

Many people responded to the issue of “Stop apologizing” which we talked about in episode 61. If you want to watch the Facebook video where we talk about apologizing, it’s here.

Try This at Home: Go slow to go fast. Lots of proverbs for this! Make haste slowly. Take your time, especially when you’re in a hurry.

Know Yourself Better: What do you lie about? Elizabeth and I confess what we lie about.

Happiness Hack: A new segment! I explain how I identified the problem — we have very little storage space in our bathroom — and thought of a solution. A toilet paper stand, so we don’t have to store spare rolls in the one crowded cabinet.  If you’re curious to see the one I bought, it’s the InterDesign Free Standing Toilet Paper Holder. Yes, it’s a trivial and even silly item, but I have to say, it really does add a little bit of happiness to my life.

filofaxmineGretchen’s Demerit: I love my paper calendar — which I keep in my beloved Filofax — but I’m scrawling in it so messily that I can’t read it.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gets herself back into the routine of going to her weekly high-intensity strength-training session.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #64

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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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  • Steven L

    Great try this at home! It made me think of one of my favorite quotes, “I walk slowly, but I never turn around” – Abraham Lincoln

    • gretchenrubin

      Love that line!

  • Christine Rodrigues

    I have a happiness hack related to LAUNDRY. (BTW I loved your episode on what to do with clothes that aren’t dirty enough to put in the hamper.)

    I am lucky to have a husband who helps with the laundry, and sometimes does it when I’m not there. When we moved in together years ago, we had a few accidents because he didn’t know which of my clothes could go into the dryer, and which ones had to be hung on a rack to dry (such as those that could shrink or were delicate.) I realized I couldn’t expect him to become a clothing care expert, especially for the items that were especially “girly,” and that it was up to me to take responsibility for protecting my own clothes. But how could I do that if I wasn’t with him when he did laundry?

    We have a hamper that’s divided into three sections, so we were already pre-sorting whites, colors and darks. I bought three small mesh laundry bags and hung them in each of the three hamper sections, so now I separate non-dryer items at the time they go into the hamper (wool socks, activewear with elastic, lingerie.) On laundry day, the mesh bags get zipped up and thrown in the wash, and they are easily removed when everything is switched to the dryer.

    Now sorting laundry is so much easier for both of us, and there are rarely accidental dryings.

    • Mimi Gregor

      That is a great idea! I already have one of those divided hamper-carts (They are a great time-saver; when one section is packed full — it’s a full load in my washer.) And I have mesh bags (Another great time-saver, as I can wash all sorts of delicates instead of doing tedious hand-washing.) Combining the two is a great way to make sure that the delicates don’t get into trouble. Thanks for the idea!

    • gretchenrubin

      Such a simple, elegant solution!

    • Ana

      This is so smart! Just this weekend I accidentally threw a brand new blouse in the dryer (and ruined it) because I didn’t see it tangled up with other clothes.
      I also recently read a brilliant solution for socks—have mesh bags for each family member’s socks to go in, so you don’t lose them and don’t have to remember whether the 4 year old or the 6 year old has the dinosaur socks.
      Ordering some mesh bags now

      • Christine Rodrigues

        That’s funny — my husband and I each get separate sock bags!

  • I learned the value of going slowly when my 7th child was in the NICU. I spent my mornings rushing through my routine – homeschooling the older kids and cleaning and getting supper in the slow cooker so I could rush to the hospital to see my premature baby (plus pumping every 3 hours). I was exhausted and it was the most stressful experience of my life. One morning during this time we loaded up in the car and took off for the grocery store. I got ONE mile from my home when suddenly something felt off. We had left my then 2-year-old at home! I turned around and thankfully she was just shaken up and no harm had come to her, but after that we implemented a *habit*. Now, when we get in the car we do a “sound off”. Everyone, from oldest to youngest, says their name so we know they’re present. Rushing can cost us big time!

    • gretchenrubin

      Wow, what a dramatic illustration of this point. Great that everything was OK!

  • Siobhan Nash

    The “Go Slow to Go Fast” conversation reminded me of a commandment I adopted within the last year or so, which is to Do One Thing. As I have gotten older, I realized that I really can’t do more than one thing at a time and do it effectively. Also, doing one thing helps me to be more present and engaged in the one thing I am doing. I prefer the slower pace to the more scattered, frenetic energy of multitasking. When I start feeling rushed and trying to do too many things simultaneously, I remind myself to Do One Thing. It really helps!

    • Mimi Gregor

      I, too, have adopted “unitasking”, as when I try to do more than one thing at a time, I fail miserably at each task I was trying to do. I’ve also noticed that when I concentrate totally on the one task, I finish it in no time at all, whereas when I try to do everything at once, it not only takes forever to attempt to do the aggregate, but I usually cannot finish the tasks.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes! Slow down, focus, one thing at a time.

  • Louise

    I find that it can sometimes be really hard to force myself to go slow even when I have already realized that I’m rushing. Then a couple of weeks ago I listened to a meditation podcast that had an episode of “meditating with your eyes open” and that technique has really helped me to ground myself when I begin to rush.

    It is really simple. First you look around the room and for three items in the room you say (in your head – not out loud), “I see…” and the name of the item, for example: “I see a lamp. I see a cup of coffee. I see a ray of light falling on my desk.” Then you do the same with sounds: “I hear someone talking outside. I hear the tapping of someone writing on their keyboard. I hear a song playing on the radio.” And finally you do the same with “I feel” and this can be both physically and emotionally: “I feel my shoe hurting my toe. I feel my heart beating in my chest. I feel anxious.”.

    I find that this very short exercise brings me back to the moment and helps me to slow down. Just a little tip if someone outthere shares my struggles with slowing down 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Great approach.

    • Darlene

      Thank you for sharing this exercise.

  • caitlingracie

    One of my favorite quotes is “The slow overcomes the fast” by Lao Tzu. Another favorite is this one I read a few years ago, but I’m not sure where or who said it: “Things take the time that they take.” It reminds me to relax when things are taking longer than I’d like because I can’t force or control most things, and helps me keep plugging away at larger projects.

    I also try to do just one thing at a time, as Siobhan mentions.

    • gretchenrubin

      Two great ways to state the same principle.

  • Carlotta Bosso

    I finally listened to all the podcasts and I can comment on the current one 🙂
    I was listening to you reader and her new found respect for her mother that always said “sorry”.
    It’s funny in Italian we don’t really have the problem you guys where talking about because we have two “sorrys” : one is clearly for when you make a mistake or so, and the other one is for empathy.
    the reader had she lived in ome would have not have the doubt.

  • Dorothy Clement

    I just have to share how much I love listening to your podcast! A friend shared it with me 3 months ago and each week I’m amazed at the morsels I take away.

    I don’t recall which episode but it was about how we say “I’m sorry, way to much and for things that we don’t need to be sorry about”. I have caught myself many times writing, “I’m sorry” in an email or text, and quickly erasing it, as well as in my conversations for things that “I’m sorry has nothing to do with my action and I just don’t need to apologize for anything. I’m also hearing others say it too much. I find it makes me lose respect for them, like they are kinda whimpy and, well, it’s over used!

    Thanks again for the fun you and your sister portray each week. I love my 2 sisters and can imagine the love and adoration you have for each other. Keep it up. You have fans in North Carolina!

  • Kerry McQuaide

    Your happiness hack made me laugh, because my most recent happiness hack is tube-free toilet paper–toilet paper with no cardboard roll at the center. There is less waste and there are two less steps in the process (removing the empty roll and putting it in the recycling). It is such a little thing, but it makes me happier!

    • gretchenrubin

      I only recently learned about the existence of this! Love it.

  • Nicole Beuckelare

    I too enjoyed your happiness hack. I bought a similar product for my basement bathroom that is rarely used and loved it. However, a few months ago I was really annoyed by the unattractiveness of the plunger beside the toilet in my ensuite. I know the moment I put it somewhere inaccessible I will need it, so to kill two birds with one stone, I started storing extra toilet paper on the handle. Now it stays close by, you don’t even notice it now that it’s covered in toilet paper rolls and my kids haven’t yelled for me to come get them more toilet paper since it happened! Win win!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Ruth Carter

    Life hack: buy a box of surgical gloves. That way you can mend your bike, polish your shoes etc. without getting your hands dirty. This saves huge amounts of time and ensures that the skin on your hands doesn’t dry out too much.

    • gretchenrubin


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  • Louise Ingram

    I think you’ve missed something in the discussion of what you lie about. I’m happy with my standards for my children but I lie about things when I think other people, parents or professionals, will judge me over them. I don’t think I’m wrong but I’m not confident enough not to care about their opinions so I take the easy way out and just give the ‘right’ answer.

  • Madeline

    I had the same problem with my illegible writing in my calendar until I started to print all my entries. Works great for me and might be a solution for you.

  • santaclams

    I have a built-in tall cabinet in my bathroom and artfully stack the toilet paper on top of it…Now, if only the tall boyfriend would do the stacking…

    Another option, if one has room, is a basket or bin on the floor or shelf holding an “abundance” of toilet paper rolls.

  • Jenna

    Go Slow to Go Fast is one of my favorite sayings. While it’s definitely useful on the micro level (rushing out the door or trying to do too many things at once), I think it’s also helpful to think about on a macro level, especially when it comes to health. I had surgery when I was younger, and one of the things I told myself was “go slow to go fast” when it came to recovery. I was so eager to get back on my feet again and pick up with my usual routine. But, if you push yourself too hard in a situation like that you may end up backtracking and taking even longer to recuperate. Thanks for the great podcast!

  • Mary Swan-Bell

    My happiness hack is so silly but it makes me happy every day. My husband moved our Keurig next to the sink so that you can refill the water tank using the sprayer hose for the sink. No more empty container when you want a cup of coffee!

    • gretchenrubin

      BRILLIANT. So simple, easier every day.

  • I haven’t even finished yet, but just heard your mini happiness hack and wanted to contribute! So funny this came about; just yesterday my husband and I were doing our weekly shopping at Target and they had a chrome water kettle on sale. I snapped it up before I could even think! I had been wanting a new one because ours was a cheapie, crusty, old horrendous thing. Just seeing it sitting on top of the stove irked me- it was so ugly!
    As we were walking out of the store I looked at him and said “I’m so excited about the new tea kettle!” His response? How much did it cost? Only $26! It was a steal. He shrugged, unsure if it was worth it.
    My response? I think my happiness is worth $26! I knew that it would make me happy every time I walked into the kitchen. And sure enough, I walked in this morning and smiled. I think it was $26 well spent.

    Love the podcast ladies! I’ve been listening since the beginning and think it’s just wonderful. I try to tell all my friends. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific hack! Well-made tools make life a joy.

  • fattiethenumchuck

    Tangent: In this episode, Gretchen mentioned feeling conflicted about loving children’s literature. When I attended an anti-racism/anti-oppression conference through the Unitarian Universalist Association, a conference speaker said one of the best ways to learn about a different culture is to read children’s literature produced by that culture.

  • Jeanien Arns Rutherford

    The checker at Trader Joe’s told me I need to share this Happiness Hack. I simply put a piece of cardboard wrapped in contact paper in the bottom of my reusable bags. It did make me happy yesterday when the bag had 2 large cans, milk ect. and I was able to pick it up and carry it from the bottom.

  • Michael

    On handwriting: I have found that writing in cursive has made my handwriting much more legible! I learned to do this after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and implementing her “morning pages” habit (which has changed my life, btw). Maybe this wouldn’t work for lefties (sorry, Gretchen and Elizabeth!), but it really worked for me.

  • Bente Leiknes Thorsen

    To your demerit this week: I do not particulary like my handwriting, but certain pens make it more awful. When you mentioned the pen your mother gave you I thought “even if it is ment to make you write nicely it might not be the pen for you”. For some reason I write best with a cheap pen that is a little hard to write with (it is hard to describe) but I think it somehow slowes me down a bit so I write a little tidier. And on the same note I write stuff I can’t understand with expensive, nice pens…

  • Anna in France

    There may be a link between ‘Go slow to go fast’ and scrawling in the FiloFax? My husband stopped reading my entries on our kitchen calendar because he couldn’t read them, and complained a lot about my handwriting. Since a few months, I have made a point of writing them slowly and consciously – with great result!

  • Marianne

    Hi there. I have been trying to make myself use electronic calendars and organisers because I feel that I ‘should’! But I just can’t get the hang of it. I like holding a pen and also seeing the actual calendar in front of me. I think it is time to go back to old ways… I am keen to try a personal organizer. What size organizer is your?

    • gretchenrubin

      I use a Filofax. I’m the same – for me, the old school way works best.

      • Marianne

        Thanks for the reply. Personal size or A5?

        • gretchenrubin

          I think it’s the A5.

  • I love all the contradictoryhandwriting comments! (Write in cursive, print letters)

    As a fellow left-hander, my dad got me started into calligraphy at age 10 by suggesting the neighbours a calligraphy set would be a good birthday present.

    I come from a long line of left-handers (Kerr clan) but we all managed to keep our writing fairly legible. I think perhaps because so many of us lefties went into teaching and we needed others to be able to read our writing!

    I am no good on a white board due to the smudge-factor and my left-handed teacher/professor uncle uses his right hand on the board.

    My suggestion is “go slow” 🙂 it really doesn’t take much longer and it’s fun to use it as a handwriting exercise, eventually you’ll notice how much you improve!

    A couple of books I either read or have had recommended to me: