Podcast 107: Plan a Secret Date, a Conversation with “Quiet” Author Susan Cain, and Discover New Podcasts.

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

Update: Elizabeth got great advice from listeners about how to organize her jewelry.

Try This at Home: Our listener Kelly suggested “planning a secret date.”

We mention the discussion we had way back in episode 3, about the “evil donut-bringer.”

Happiness Hack: Listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed to get more listening done — or if it’s going too fast, you can slow it down. Not sure how to change your settings? Instructions here.

Interview: The brilliant Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and the founder of the “Quiet Revolution.” She also did a podcast series that focused on giving parents and teachers tools to help quiet kids.

If you want to watch Susan’s super-popular TED talk, it’s here. More than sixteen million people have watched it.

For her Try-This-at-Home, Susan’s suggestion ties back to the Strategies of Convenience and Pairing: she helped herself form the habit of writing by associating it with her love of sitting in cafes.

Demerit: When I got a new laptop, instead of taking the time to work with it for a few minutes while I had an expert there to help me, I didn’t do it. And now everything on my screen is too small, and I don’t know how to fix it.

Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to nature, because of all the rain recently in L.A.

Bonus Gold Star for listeners, I’d be curious to hear: What are you doing when you listen to our podcast?


As I mentioned, I have a coloring book coming out soon (!); you can check out The Happiness Project Mini Posters: 20 Hand-Lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #107

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning 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!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

HAPPIER listening!

  • Lily

    I had let your podcasts accumulate, and I’ve just found a great way to catch up. When I get out of the shower, I start listening. I have to pause you when I dry my hair (dryer noise), but the podcasts last for about the same length of time that it takes me to get completely ready. I love this solution, it gives me something interesting to listen to during what used to be mindless routine time!

    • statmam

      I often listen to the podcast while soaking in the tub. Just the right length for a leisurely bath.

    • gretchenrubin


      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

    • gretchenrubin


    • Melanie Novak

      I do the same thing! 🙂

  • Patty

    I work part time cleaning houses and 1 office. Mostly for my friends moms and my moms friends. I listen to podcasts when I’m cleaning, it makes the time go by faster. I also listen while out walking the dog. Sometimes I extend the walk just to finish a podcast.

    • gretchenrubin

      Many people say that listening to podcasts makes it more fun to do chores like cleaning.

    • Melanie Novak

      I do the same thing!

  • Sue Z

    Part of my work is data entry so I’ll listen while I do that, but in my free time I’ll color or do jigsaw puzzles on my computer while I listen.

    • gretchenrubin

      So interesting to hear!

      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

  • Ms. Liz Money Matters

    I love to listen to your podcast when I drive, cook or clean and on long walks. It always makes me . . . a little happier!

  • Suzanne

    When I heard the tip about listening to podcasts at an accelerated rate, I couldn’t help but think– How busy are people that they have to listen to a podcast at 2Xs the normal rate? 🙂 It seems crazy to me!

  • I’m a quilter, and enjoy listening while I stitch. But I don’t have as much sewing time as I’d like, and there are so many good podcasts out there. I listen to as many as I can, but yours is the only one where I stay current (well, within a week or so of current, anyway).

  • Amanda Scott

    I listen while either doing chores or soaking in the tub. It makes the time pass much more enjoyably and keeps me motivated to keep up the good work.

  • zilly

    I pace back and forth around a large area of my house while listening. It’s actually your “pairing” technique, now that I think about it. I can sit for a rest now and then, but mostly I have told myself I can’t listen to these podcasts unless I am moving. I’m a fitbit zealot so this really helps me get my steps in.

  • Sj Weigel

    Hi, I am often sewing when I am listening. Today I am working on a re-production of a quilt that was made by my Great great aunt as a wedding present for my parents. I boldly started the quilt without a pattern and cut 50+ quarter circles in the exact wrong size! Oh well. I’m beyond that now into the final stretch of finishing the front of the quilt.

  • Gillian

    Thank you for the interview with Susan Cain. I read “Quiet” about 4 years ago. Brilliant book! I’m an introvert and couldn’t believe how well she nailed it. So many of my quirks that I thought were simply individual attributes are actually related to being an introvert. This book should be mandatory reading for everyone who is an introvert or who lives or works with one. Also for all managers and teachers.

    I’m surprised, Gretchen, that you don’t address the introvert/extrovert more in your work. You love to categorize traits and this is a major categorization. How one deals with it can have a large effect on happiness.

    Re Elizabeth’s gold star for the California rain – I can well imagine what a blessing the rain is after so many years of drought. However, I would give a demerit to the human race for so thoroughly messing up the Earth’s climate cycles that you now experience alternating cycles of drought and deluge. Gold star to Mother Nature for, so far, coping as well as she does with our folly. It won’t last long.

    I also listen to this podcast and my favourite radio programs while working – washing dishes, ironing, cooking. It makes chores much more tolerable.

    • gretchenrubin

      So great to hear that it struck a chord with you! It’s interesting that you point out that I don’t talk about it much. Hmmm, I never thought about that! Maybe because I’m an ambivert, so don’t notice it as much? I should think about this! Also, it is very well covered by others, such as Susan, who cover it so well. But something for me to ponder – thanks!

  • Kim S

    Well, right now I am listening to your podcast while I color my hair. It’s a task I hate and I have paired it with a podcast that I love and look forward to. However, mainly, I listen while I am walking in the neighborhood and everyday while I commute back and forth. I’m lucky my car has bluetooth, and if I have a podcast started, when I stop the car, the podcast stops, and when I get back in, it starts up in the exact same place. I use the Downcast app. My favorite podcasts are yours, On Being, The One you Feed, Freakonomics, the Moth, Bishop Robert Barron’s sermon podcast, The Word on Fire Show, Radiolab…..I’m a podcast junkie!

  • Anna

    I listen while driving usually, sometimes while hiking, and just today I was coloring! Haven’t done that in months, so funny you mentioned it. 🙂

  • Agnes

    Elizabeth – It seems like the “secret date” thing would be good for someone who is a non-planner – all you have to do is set a date and time and arrange child care, and they can do the arranging/planning at the last minute if they want. (If someone isn’t willing to plan to the extent of agreeing to do something at some point… well, that doesn’t sound very agreeable, frankly.)

    Gretchen – I would modify your “killjoy” remark about not choosing to go out to eat for your secret date a bit. I agree you shouldn’t choose something the person is trying to avoid, or just go to the same place you always go. But I think something like trying a new cuisine could be a great option. Similarly, I would suggest avoiding just going to see a movie, unless it’s a departure from your regular viewing habits (e.g., going to see the local film festival rather than just the week’s blockbuster), as I think that might not be special enough to really register as novel.

  • I listen to a lot of podcasts (and audiobooks) – while walking to work, getting ready in the morning (I have a waterproof bluetooth shower speaker, so I can listen before, during, and after showers), and while doing household chores (especially while cooking and doing the dishes). But since yours is my absolute favorite, I save it for the gym – I use the strategy of pairing to make going to the gym on the weekend much more pleasant!

  • Amy Hollinger

    I listen during my commute (about 6-8 hours a week usually…blech). But I also listen during “routine” times, like Lily and others have mentioned below–morning routine, evening routine, cleaning, dishes, filing, etc. I have ADHD, and get distracted a lot. These tasks used to take me forever or not get done because I’d always wander off. Just last year I figured out I’m much more effective when I occupy the “mundane” part of my brain (routine, chores, etc) and the “Intellectual/creative” part. Probably why I write and create best when I’m in a cafe or with music!

  • Barbie

    I loved the podcast about the secret date. I used to walk regularly with a woman who regularly planned secrets dates for her partner (also a woman). Among the “dates” were a four day trip to Manhattan and a week in Iceland. Since she couldn’t talk to her partner about her planning for the date, she would tell me everything as she planned.

  • Jessica Feldmann

    I only allow myself to listen to podcasts (a favorite activity) while I’m doing data entry at work. It’s a necessary but rather boring part of my job but having a new podcast to listen to makes me look forward to it and keeps me from listening to them all day and running out. I love the try this at home to speed up the rate they play at, I tried it immediately and find I pay closer attention because the speed is faster.
    I’m also interested to see how my husband responds to the idea that introverts should show up early to ease into an event. He’s a questioner who doesn’t like getting places early and feeling like he’s awkwardly waiting for the event to start, so this idea may appeal to him as I prefer to be at least a few minutes early to events. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Kristin Thompson

    I listen while I’m walking– it makes the time go by faster if I’m on the treadmill, and adds dimension even if I’m outside! I remember exactly where I was when I almost peed myself laughing as Gretchen was talking about her love of plastic sleeves.

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s great to hear!

  • Miss Honey

    I listen to podcasts while I’m walking the dog or riding my bike to work, but my favourite new toy is a waterproof iPod, so now I listen while I’m swimming laps! I enjoy swimming but find it dead boring, so now I actually look forward to doing my laps and sometimes swim a few extra to catch the end of a great podcast.

    On introverts: I have a lot in common with my bright 11 year old son, but sometimes his behaviour confounds me. He never wants to join clubs or groups, and is musically talented but hates the band. I had a revelation while listening to this episode – he’s a total introvert! I never realised because I’m an extrovert, so just thought he was being shy or difficult. I will take Susan’s advice and not let him drop out, but allow him time to warm up and do activities that suit him.

    • Gillian

      How wonderful that you now realize what’s going on with your son! I really urge you to read Susan’s book, “Quiet”. I think you will find it completes your revelation.

  • Leah

    I listen to your podcast while I do the dishes. We live in an old bungalow without a dishwasher and knowing that I can catch up with you and Elizabeth motivates me to put on the rubber gloves and fill the sink with suds. Love your show!

  • Suzy Percy

    I listen while exercising, doing dishes or at work when I need to concentrate (I’m analyst so I can crunch numbers and hear conversation at the same time!!). Easily makes any task better! Love you guys xx

  • toun

    I listen the podcast while i’m running on the treadmill
    or at work when I have to do a low concentration task so I can concentrate on
    what are you saying girls.

  • Megan

    I listen to the podcast while I’m brewing coffee in the morning and packing lunches. It’s a great way to start my day. Sometimes I listen when I’m walking to the train!