Podcast 83: Are You A Hedgehog or a Fox? and Read 3 Unfamiliar Magazines

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

Update: If you live near Seattle, please come to our live event! We’ll be recording an episode of the podcast live on stage at Seattle’s Town Hall on October 13, 7:30. Tickets are $25. More info and buy tickets here. Please come, bring your friends.

In episode 76, we talked about manifestos, and if you’re coming to the Seattle event, we’d love to highlight a few manifestos from listeners. So send us your manifesto for work, life, parenting, marriage, exercise, clutter-clearing — whatever! And maybe we’ll talk about it with you on stage.

Try This at Home: Read three magazines that you don’t usually read. I tried this creativity exercise as part of writing my book The Happiness Project.

Happiness Hack: Doug suggests using the reminders app in your smart-phone to remind yourself to any tasks you need to complete.

Know Yourself Better: Are you a hedgehog or a fox? We refer to the enigmatic line from Archilocus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” According to the understanding of that line that Elizabeth and I share, we’re both hedgehogs.

Listener Question: Daniel asks “I’m now working freelance, and I struggle to create habits, because my schedule changes all the time. How can I built my habits?”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: She and Adam neglected to get their son Jack back into an earlier sleep schedule before school started.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: The musical Hamilton! Such a fresh, beautiful way to think about American history.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, check the schedule. 

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Olive and Cocoa. Surprise someone you love with a meaningful gift today. Go to OliveandCocoa.com/happier to see gift options specifically chosen for our listeners.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 25% off window treatments and a free in-home design consultation.

Also check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.


1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #83

We love hearing from listeners:


To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

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!

  • I am going to Barnes & Noble tomorrow and getting 3 magazines out of my norm. Great idea and challenge. Is stick to home magazines, organizing magazines and women’s mags with tips and practical stuff (not vogue or the like). Can’t wait!

  • Mimi Gregor

    I’d have to say that I am more of a fox, as I seem to know a little bit about a lot of things, which I attribute to my eclectic tastes in books. I am a hedgehog when it comes to cooking, though, as this is an area I know a lot about, as I like to experiment with various cuisines and modes of cooking.

  • MaggieRose59

    Daniel, if you have apple devices, try Momentum Habit Tracker app. I love this app. It’s only 4.99 and it is very basic. It works well for me. I think there is a free version for up to 3 habits, so you can test it out first.
    Like Mimi I’m more of a fox because I read a lot, but more hedgehoggy in the cooking area. I’m the one everyone calls with their cooking questions.

  • Carol

    Hi, Gretchen and Elizabeth!

    I’m a fox, and I think this video really hits home for foxes! =) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sZdcB6bjI8

    Regarding the sleep issue, I’ve started reading the “Power of When” by Michael Braus, and, Gretchen, I think you’d find it fascinating! =D He expands the early bird/ night owl divide by categorizing people in four “chronotypes”:

    “DOLPHIN — Real dolphins sleep with only half of their brain at a time (which is why they’re called unihemispheric sleepers). The other half is awake and alert, concentrated on swimming and looking for predators. This name fits insomniacs well: intelligent, neurotic light sleepers with a low sleep drive.

    LION — Real lions are morning hunters at the top of the food chain. This name fits morning-oriented driven optimists with a medium sleep drive.

    BEAR — Real bears are go-with-the-flow ramblers, good sleepers, and anytime hunters. This name fits fun-loving, outgoing people who prefer a solar-based schedule and have a high sleep drive.

    WOLF — Real wolves are nocturnal hunters. This name fits night-oriented creative extroverts with a medium sleep drive.”

    It’s very interesting, and there’s a quiz: http://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/

    • MaggieRose59

      Love this video! I didn’t quite understand the emotional impact she was trying to describe, but that is probably because I came from a family of such amazingly eclectic interests. My Dad was a pharmacist (by profession), photographer, woodworker, scientific gardener, cook, musician, video producer, and any number of other things. Mom is artist, lab tech, horse trainer, magazine publisher, baker, gardener and any number of other things! I and my siblings always had many different interests. It was a lot of fun growing up in our house, which was packed to the gills with all the paraphernalia that went with all the different stuff everyone was into.

      Movie Recommendation: “You Can’t Take it With You” w/ James Stewart and Jean Arthur. Great movie from the 1940’s and about this very subject.

      • Carol

        Wow, what a fascinating combination of interests in your family! That must have been so much fun indeed!

    • Jill

      Yes! Liberating for us foxes!

  • Jill

    As an alternative to magazines, how about 3 podcasts that you normally wouldn’t listen too?

    • meliors

      Yes, I make a point of listening to new podcasts pretty often. Sometimes I find a treasure!

      • Jill

        Great! Do you have any recommendations?

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent! Terrific suggestion!

      • Jill

        Thank you Gretchen, love your work!

  • meliors

    Your try this at home reminds me of British singer, Charlotte Church, speaking on a science podcast called The Infinite Monkey Cage (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07mwqft). She tells the story of how one day she was at a newsagent to buy her usual glamour/celebrity/beauty magazines but a New Scientist magazine caught her eye instead so she bought that. She was fascinated by everything she read in it and developed a real passion for physics and cosmology as a result. And now she gets be a guest onstage at science events!

  • CJ

    I think I’m more of a fox. I have many different interests, even though they seem to come and go and when I find something new I’m really into that for a while, then I might forget about it for a while and then come back to it. So I’m a doctor by profession, I have a passionate love for fashion, and since I’m moving to a new apartment I’m really into decorating. I love almost all kinds of popular culture: movies, books, tv series, music. I also play piano, guitar and base guitar (but i’m not really good at any of those things). And instead of getting better at playing the base guitar I’m really into the idea of buying an electric guitar and get totally sucked into that for a while. And I also love photography and take pretty good landscape pictures, at least according to myself. I’m also trying to learn how to surf.
    So I guess I’m a fox, right? Sometimes I feel really guilty about not developing these interests more and that I should focus on two or three tings instead of wanting to do everything.

  • Dani Adams

    Hi ladies! One of your listeners had a question about productivity and staying on task as a freelancer. I myself am not a freelancer, but one tool I use to help manage my time is the Toggl app. It’s really helped me track my time and see how I’m utilizing my time. It also helps me keep track of how much time I’m spending on various projects, helping the organization I work for track billable hours for our clients. (Plus, it’s free!)

  • Jenine Ziemann Sansosti

    Hi Gretchen and Liz! Great show this week, as always.

    Liz, it occurred to me that this week’s Happiness Hack of using the reminder app (or even a calendar event with an alert feature) could help you get Jack to bed earlier next back-to-school season. It’s possible to set an alert for well into the future and even if you get a new phone, as long as you import your current apps it should stick with you – so do it now! You could set a date 2 weeks before Jack goes back and have it remind you – and maybe at the one week mark, too just in case. Hope this helps!


  • Flamish Marmish

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth! Thank you for a podcast!
    A question of life a death really: I am a questioner and I struggle to get married because I think that I will meet someone better than the person currently wooing me. I am a very sensible person so while I am being easily infatuated I quickly start questioning the guy’s compatibility for me. Like “Yes, he’s a millionaire but he doesn’t seem to love me too much” or “Yes, he loves me alright but he’s not a hardworker” or “He loves me and he’s a hardworking guy but he’s just not aimed at earning a super great living and become a millionaire” or “He loves me but the intimate side of the relationship isn’t his strong side” and so on. And – puff! – the infatuation has gone after being cross-examined by the sensible side of me.
    I just don’t seem to find a person good enough for a marriage. It wasn’t a problem but I have just about 10 years left of my fertility age so I do want to make a choice. But I just can’t. No one asks me to marry them in the first month when am infatuated – but after a month together the infatuation is gone and I just don’t want to marry them – even though I continue seeing them. I see them less and less frequently and let the relationship to die out.
    I feel that if I marry someone I date during the first month of courtship I’ll never question this relationship again and will be happy – but after the month I just satrt questioning everything about the person.
    I don’t want to die alone and childless – so maybe you can offer a solution?
    Thank you.

    • MaggieRose59

      My credentials for speaking: I have been happily married for 28 years to a man I truly love. From year 5 to about year 10 or 12 we had a very rough time. We were absolutely committed to the marriage from day one so we got through this period. That was all a long time ago now. He is my husband, my lover, my best friend and companion. We talk about everything and do many things together. He is not a millionaire (nor am I), but he is a sensible manager of our moderate income. We are able to do almost anything we actually want to do (we don’t care about driving the newest car or flying to Paris for dinner). He is not perfect (nor am I), but he is perfect for me. We will always have our little ups and downs (because we are human). But they are just that…little. We will always love each other, and that is the important part.

      My observations of your post: You sound more like you are searching for an employee than a life companion. You talk about the other person having everything you want, but you don’t mention what you bring to the relationship. No sensible man wants to marry someone who is infatuated (a transient, shallow and meaningless emotion as you have found). Have you ever actually loved someone? Real love does not fade away, so I think not. I believe you need to begin here. Learn what it really means to love someone. Love is not a feeling, it is an action verb. Real love means self-sacrifice. It means tolerating another person’s moods, flaws and idiosyncrasies without complaint. It means being trustworthy and supportive. Real love is not a free ride. It takes effort, compromise and a whole lot of giving of yourself. Love is a one-way street; it is all out-going (the other person’s love for you is the in-coming). If you think that none of this can make you happy, you are so wrong. There is no happiness like it in the world!

      • Flamish Marmish

        Thank you Maggie Rose. You are absolutely right, unfortunately those whom I loved never loved me. But it doesn’t mean that I have to stay alone for life and can’t choose to live with someone who loves me to enjoy a companionship and a friendship with a man and eventually with our children.

        • MaggieRose59

          That’s right. Be patient, enter relationships slowly. It will come to you. Best wishes Flamish

      • Gillian

        What a wonderful response, Maggie Rose!!

  • Pingback: SiNes of Life | Lovable Links()

  • Glenda Brown

    I know this is an old podcast, but many people may not realize that if you have an iPhone you can have Siri set a reminder for when you arrive or leave a specific location. Such as “remind me when I get home…” or “remind me when I get to someone’s house…” This is super helpful when you don’t know exactly what time you will arrive or leave that location.

  • Carol

    I am a fox. I have to tell myself to not pick up a new hobby.
    As for the sleep thing, I suffer from migraines. My migraine doctor told me that one thing I can do to reduce the number of migraines is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day – even the weekends. When I go to bed really late or sleep in, I’ll end up with a migraine.