Podcast 93: Find Something to Admire, Consider Your Activity Level, and Getting Over a Break-Up.

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

Quick note: If you’re going to give one of my books as a holiday gift, and you’d like to request a personalized, signed bookplate or signature card to make the present more special, request it here — U.S. and Canada only, sorry, mailing costs. But hurry! Time is short!

Listener Question: Andrea Silenzi, host of the great podcast about relationships called Why Oh Why, asks “I just broke up with my boyfriend. Any advice about how to be happier?” (If you know your Friends plot-lines, please note my extremely apt choice of image for Andrea’s question.)

Try This at Home: When you’re feeling blue, find something to admire — an idea we lifted from my daughter Eliza’s podcast, Eliza Starting at 16.

Here’s the Boethius quotation I mention: “Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things.”

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Happiness Hack: “Wash your face as soon as you put your kids to bed.”

Know Yourself Better: What’s your activity level? Some people like a faster pace, some people like a slower pace.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth hasn’t been able to get rid of a cold, because she’s been pushing herself too hard.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Project Cicero is a terrific organization that collects new and gently used children’s books and distributes them to under-resourced New York City public schools.

Announcement! I’ve launched an app, the Better app, to help people learn about the Four Tendencies — and also to help people form Accountability Groups (Obligers, I’m thinking about you!). Learn all about it here. Don’t know about the Four Tendencies — about whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Learn about the framework and take the quiz here.

Here’s the link to the Happier 911 playlist on Spotify.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #93

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Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Jen

    The hack about getting ready for bed early in the evening is a great tip and one that I want to turn into a habit, instead of something I do occasionally.

    It reminded me of when there was a discussion about flossing (I think neither one of you like flossing – who does?). After getting praise from my dentist about how good my teeth looked after I switched to a Sonicare and started flossing regularly, I have included flossing in my pre-bedtime routine. I’ve found that flossing before I do anything else is the best way to ensure it gets done. Even though it takes very little time, if I do it in a later order (after washing my face, putting on eye cream, etc.) I’m likely to let myself off the hook. If I do it right away, I feel good about myself and the whole routine seems to go faster because I’ve already done the least fun part.

  • Sarah

    Thinking about the tips for getting over a breakup and wanted to share one I recently heard.

    Make a list of the things you liked about your ex and then consider ways you can try to cultivate those things in yourself. We all have qualities in our romantic partners we admire. Maybe it’s the way they’re good conversationalists, or that they’re great cooks, or maybe they’re handy around the house. By trying to cultivate some of those things in ourselves we can think about and process what we learned from our past relationships and partners. I think it also can help us to feel good about ourselves as we learn new skills and it combats the idea that those things we liked have to be totally over now that we’re no longer together.

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s a terrific, constructive idea. love it.

    • Vanessa

      I love this! I was doing it in a kind of way that when I miss specifically some skill of my ex, I think well I better learn it so I won’t miss it anymore! Trying to make myself full in the area of life I need, love by myself. It is hard. And maybe we don’t have to do it all alone, but it feels good to have some skills.

  • Weronika

    Dear Elisabeth,
    I would like to recommend You as a remedy for your cought and problems with throat… flax seeds. Two weeks ago I came back home from my “Roman Holiday” with a terrible laryngitis. I was coughing all the time and my throat couldn’t resist it any more. My doctor told me that a cought could persist one month or even longer… Then my Friend Asia suggested me to take flax seed. When you mix them with boiling water they will form disgusting gel but there is nothing better both for cough and throat! I recovered after 2-3 days and not after a month as my doctor predicted 🙂
    Best wishes from Cracow – Weronika

  • Maria

    Prior to getting married, I had a relationship which ended. After the break up, I still cared for my ex-boyfriend and would catch myself wishing we were still together, thinking about taking him back and deluding myself that the reasons we broke up were “no big deal”. I finally wrote all the reasons we broke up on a piece of paper and put it in my wallet. When I had a weak moment, I would take it out and remind myself that he was a good person AND he wasn’t the right man for me.

    • Katelyn

      This was my exact suggestion too!!

      I think the list is also great a tool as you start dating new people. It provides clarity, you instantly appreciate these qualities in potential new partners and are able to better assess compatibility, rather than getting bogged down in trivial comparisons (my ex had better taste in movies/took me to nicer restaurants etc.)

      My dating philosophy is have fun, be open to new opportunities and adventures. There are only two outcomes; it will be amazing or I will be left with a funny story (once enough time has passed)!

  • I agree with Gretchen and her points of dealing with a breakup.
    One of life’s happenings that popped up that, at least to me, is how to deal with being fired from a job/career that you loved. I lost a job for the first time about a year ago, and in my case, I truly believed I was doing a great job and really liked where I was, let alone the belief that my boss and others thought the same. It’s a punch to the gut. The business is still alive and well.
    It was up to me to move on.
    It takes a while, like the stages of death unfortunately. It’s something in life that can be truly gut wrenching yet most of the time, inevitable: just one of those mistakes/experiences/educational (?) things.
    Deep breath.
    Take things one day at a time, one hour at a time and work on life on a day to day basis, not necessarily for the long haul only. Work on today first – re-listen to Gretchen’s ideas and don’t necessarily dwell on that person now from your past. Mourn, don’t think about ‘what am I going to do down the road?’ Take it one day at a time, and time will eventually help to heal that deep wound. The scar will still be there, accept it. You notice how scars are tougher than the rest of our skin?

  • P.S. – Look up a hobby assessment quiz online: playbuzz.com or allthetests.com or whatsnext.com to name a few sites. I love looking for new hobbies – it’s almost like it calmly turns the page to a new chapter in life.

  • Lily

    To the great break-up advice I would add… consider exploring the things (big and little) that you love but you might have put aside during your relationship. Some examples: buying the toothpaste you like but he never did, eating a food you love but he didn’t enjoy, hanging out with a friend he never really meshed with but who is important to you. Or maybe you have a hobby that you didn’t have time for while you were together. Similarly, pay attention to what activities, passions etc you are drawn to during this time as you reconnect with YOU. Good luck!!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestions!

  • Jeanne

    Love the idea of the activity level. I am an undercommiter, and seem to have less stamina than most people. I have always felt bad about this, when I look at how much other people are doing, and how much I’m doing. (Comparison is the thief of joy – TR). Fortunately, I never let this nagging feeling win out and push me further than I wanted to go. As a Questioner, it’s easy to not overcommit, cause I need a good reason to devote time and energy to something. I ask myself if I really want to do something or go somewhere, or how current projects might fare if I add another one. I cherish my meditating, walking, and sleeping routines and am loathe to sacrifice them unless there’s a good reason. My energy is not unlimited as other’s seems to be. So I spend it carefully. I accomplish less, and maybe I’m not living up to my full potential, but who knows what that even is?

  • Stella

    Great podcast, as usual! I really liked Gretchen’s advice to Andrea about going on a trip all by yourself. That’s what I did when I broke up with my fiancé–I went to Italy! It was amazing, and I had a truly wonderful, amazing time, and I wasn’t the least bit lonely because I found fellow travelers that I am still friends with six years later. I’m also glad I went by myself, because it was so much to just sit in a café all by myself and write in my journal and people watch.
    My other advice to Andrea for getting over a breakup is to date yourself! Decide what you’d want your significant other to do for you, and then do it yourself. Take yourself out to dinner, buy yourself a pretty piece of jewelry… get all glammed up and take a picture of yourself doing something amazing and put it on Facebook! I am in an amazing relationship right now, and I STILL follow this advice. There are times when I get upset at my significant other for not doing this or that romantic thing, and then I’ll just do it myself. It’s a way of helping you to feel satisfied, of taking care of your needs and wants, and so therefore I can come at the rest of the world from a giving, fully satisfied place.
    One more thing! Andrea, if you are reading this, I just wanted to tell you that I feel you so hardcore. I was truly devastated by my breakup, especially because I got dumped by a man I was in love with, and by somebody that I thought was my *soulmate*. But looking back, I can truly tell you that I am so much happier and truly glad that I’m not with that person anymore, especially I feel like I know myself and experienced more out of life than I ever would have if I had stayed with my ex. Also, did I mention Italy? I am truly, deeply, blissfully happy with the man I am with now, and we are getting married in August, hooray!

  • Vanessa

    Other advices about trying to make time passes more quickly when in pain? Thanks!

  • Le Genou de Claire

    When I heard Elizabeth said that her parents are “go-go-go” I immediately thought the same of my parents, and then I thought that maybe, from the perspective of children, parents are ALWAYS “go-go-go.” Case point: I’m now doing it to my son! Anyone else thinks this may be the case?

    I also have a “better” hack for getting ready to bed: I remove my makeup when my son takes a bath. It gives him time to play in the bathtub, and me, a little “me” time to take care of my self and making getting ready to bed a lot easier. This only works for when your children are young, I suppose (my son is 5, he still enjoys taking long baths with bath toys and such).

  • I love the advice Gretchen and Elizabeth shared with Andrea. I’d add one quote – on the topic of learning to accept hard decisions we’ve made. This is from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, and it’s on the topic of deciding whether to have children or not, and can be applied beautifully to this situation of choosing to end a relationship to pursue the life you want:

    “I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
    – Cheryl Strayed. “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.”

  • Chelsea Hill

    This podcast has been a gift from the angels! I’m recently on break from school and have been finding myself in quite the rut. A bunch of changes in my family life and my daily schedule has left me in an emotional state; thanks to you, I’ve pondered what day-to-day activities deplete my happiness, realized I’m someone who runs slowly, worked though some romantic regret (THANK YOU ELIZA!), and begun to design a vacation schedule to keep myself sane (I’ve also discovered that I am THAT person). Feeling uplifted and inspired to get a passport, read an unfamiliar classic, and continue work on my NaNoWriMo manuscript. THANK YOU!

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! that’s great to hear.

  • Amy Zarndt

    Was just catching up and listening to this episode. Was so glad you mentioned again the concept I read about a couple of years ago about the concentric circle image for handling certain kinds of situations. It is good to be reminded of such things. Thought you might like to see the article where I first read about this. Thanks!
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407