Podcast 119: Have Friends of Different Ages, Manage Mild Pain, and a Doctor-Related Demerit.

Update: Our next Very Special Episode will be dedicated to listener questions about the Four Tendencies, so if you have questions or comments, send them in. (Don’t know your Tendency? Take the quiz here to see if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.)

Try This at Home: Make friends with people of different ages. Hearing about their different experiences is helpful, and also makes life richer.

Happiness Hack: Always look behind you when you leave a restaurant, a car, a conference table. It’s a simple habit that saves a lot of hassle.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Pain is a huge happiness stumbling block. If we can take steps to manage pain, it’s a way to boost happiness.

Listener Question: Jen asks, “I’m an Obliger. My friends ask me to attend or host home parties. This puts me in a bind.”

Gretchen’s Demerit: I haven’t had a skin cancer check in two years.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star for planning a fun family weekend for two families.

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #119

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  • Sara Kimball

    Hello! Thank you so much for your podcast. I love listening to all the lifestyle hacks that really work to create more happiness in my life! Gretchen, I too have a difficult time scheduling appointments- doctors, haircuts, car services, furnace cleaning, etc- and end up not maintaining myself and my things in the way I know makes me feel better (happier). I have been using the reminders app on my iPhone all the time, to reinforce mantras and affirmations, remind me who has to wear sneakers to school, encourage me to do a certain house chore on a regular basis, basically to shape my daily behavior. And now I have set a daily reminder for 1pm every day to “Schedule Appointments.” It took about a month of daily seeing that reminder and not actually doing it, until it finally drove me crazy enough to change. Now I discipline myself to make one appointment a day, unless I really don’t have one. Maybe this daily practice will help you or someone else get over their fear of scheduling!

    Sara Kimball
    Mystic, CT

  • RaShelle K

    I am the same way about making phone calls and making appointments! I even sometimes ask my kids to make phone calls for things they want (ages 15 & 12). I am so curious to figure out why this bothers me? It seems so easy for other people. Thanks for sharing, at least I know I’m not the only one.

    • Megan H

      Phone anxiety (also called “telephone phobia” or “telephone apprehension”) is a real form of social anxiety. According to Wikipedia, “In 1993 it was reported that about 2.5 million people in Great Britain have telephone phobia.” There are quite a few articles around with suggestions for treatments or working around it.

  • Lori D

    I also have a real reluctance to make appointments – by phone or email or online. I thought perhaps it was because by “Upholderness” was tinged with a hidden Rebel!
    But I have been wondering if another (and more real) reason is that no matter when I have an appointment, something else comes up or I have to leave someone (work, family etc) to attend my appointment. It never feels like a suitable or convenient time and then I end up disappointing someone else and often me. I am relieved to hear that others also have this issue and I hope to get some help in this area.

    Thanks much to you and Elizabeth for all the important topics you bring up.

  • Analise Brower

    Hi Gretchen! This pertains more to next week’s episode about the tendencies. When I first took the quiz, it identified me as an Obliger. And to an extent, I see that; setting internal expectations and sticking to them can be tough for me; or, honestly, it seems more like it’s “random” / when it clicks with my identity or the person I want to be, that I do follow an expectation fully. I also like external accountability, but I sometimes resent it or want to ignore it if it comes down too intensely. I’ve always self-identified as a “people pleaser” and a generally agreeable person. Does this sound like an Obliger with an active case of Obliger-Rebellion, or something else entirely? (a rebel, perhaps? shock! I’ve never seen myself as very rebellious!)

    • gretchenrubin

      To me you sound like an Obliger who “tips” toward Rebel.

      Gretchen Rubin

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  • statmam

    If we insist on taking offense at every response that well-meaning people offer, pretty soon people will have nothing to say to us. Even an enthusiastic “that’s great” is not a universally-safe response these days because some people object to hyperbole. (And it is hyperbole most of the time – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was “great”; my PowerPoint presentation was merely the sunny side of average.) A corollary to “Don’t treat a gift as a burden” might be “Don’t treat a compliment as a put-down.”

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s a very good point. This is like the idea of “accept a gift in the spirit with which it’s offered.” As we’ve discussed on the podcast, sometimes gifts stir up weird feelings in us, and we have to strive to accept it as intended.

  • Megan H

    I personally refuse to help any friends with MLMs because they’re almost always scams working to drive my friends into debt, but if the listener really wants to show support, she can do it in non-financial ways — send recommendations to other friends, write reviews, spread party invitations to other friends, adding their info to round ups/blog posts/tweets, helping them actually start a business, etc.

    Regarding pain and discomfort, it was fascinating to hear you all talk about not having faith that the pills will work, because I’m so opposite. I suffer from migraines, so when I have a ‘regular’ headache, I’ll often assume it’ll pass soon enough on its own, but then two irritable hours have passed and my partner is pointing out that if I’d taken a pill when it started, it’d be gone already.

    Also, intergenerational friendships is why I love the podcast ‘Sleepover,’ which has three people of different generations giving advice to one another on personal problems.

  • Sharon Argo

    I love that I’m not alone in my resistance to making appts. It’s amazing how something like scrubbing the toilet on my to do list will jump up in rank and the phone call i need to make falls to the bottom! Question: can anyone remember the name of the story that had the quote “would you rather be careful or would you rather be friends?”

    • statmam

      According to Gretchen’s Monday post, it was A Bargain for Frances.

  • Pat

    The notion of having friends of varying ages resonated with me. I have been retired almost two years and, although I have been enjoying getting together with friends, like my college cronies and people I worked with, who are also retired, I miss my work friends who ranged from just-out-of-college through middle age to retirement age. Many of my closest friends at work were those who were the same age as my children. I keep in touch with some of them through e-mail and may see some of them occasionally, but we don’t arrange social engagements. Just recently it has dawned on me that I need to get involved in some activities that will bring me into contact with people in a wide range of ages. i am not sure yet what that will be, but I am thinking of church related functions or, more likely, political activism.

  • Coach Grab Training Private Li

    Very good idea of “accept a gift in the spirit with which it’s offered.
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  • HEHink

    Haven’t listened to this episode yet, but the topic of avoiding scheduling appointments is timely for me. We live in a rural Alaskan community that can only be reached by plane, and one of us needs to see a neurologist – there isn’t one here. Our itinerant optometrist will not be here until September. Our family dentist handed his practice down to his son, who has not yet picked up the habit of traveling here every few weeks to see patients, as his dad did. So, all of these appointments will need to happen 300 miles away in Anchorage. To get the timing right, I will need to talk to all of these places, probably multiple times on the same day, then schedule flights ASAP. As a teacher, I have been on summer break for a week, and have avoided making these appointments and travel plans, but it is at the top of my list for Monday morning! I just have to accept that it’s probably going to kill the whole day.

  • sarah

    A great way to avoid commitments that go against your values is to say “I’m sorry, I have a personal policy against __________________ (insert: tupperware parties, baby showers, whatever it is you don’t agree with, etc.)”. This statement is both abrupt and mysterious, leaving the onus on the other person to figure out what the heck a “personal policy” is even referring to! Great way to stick to your guns (read: values) without excuses. Love the podcast – listened to all 121 episodes in 2 weeks!!!