Podcast 126: Look for an Under-Used Area of Your Home, Dealing with Perfectionism, and Clear Instructions about How to Rate and Review a Podcast.

Update:  Congratulations to Elizabeth and Sarah, who are about to hit a milestone for their podcast “Happier in Hollywood” — tomorrow is their tenth episode. Teaser: in that episode, they interview the brilliant host of “Side Hustle School,Chris Guillebeau. Who is a Rebel, if you’re curious.

Try This at Home: Look for an under-used area of your home. Create your own “nook” like my daughter Eleanor or a “Cozy Club” like Elizabeth and Emilie. We mention the try-this-at-home tip from episode 72, of having room of your own.

gretchen rubin

**Stay tuned for the promised photos of the Cozy Corner — I thought our mother had the photo, but in her own recent efforts to clear space, she sent the photo to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth needs to find it. So hope to update with that soon!

Happiness Hack: When listener Korrine realized that she often cut her laps short when she was walking a one-mile loop, she switched to walking around a lake in a 2.7 mile circuit — no way to cut it short. She’s using several of the habit-formation strategies that I discuss in Better Than Before.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Perfectionism — a very common stumbling block.

If you want to read more about satisficers and maximizers, read here.

Send in your anti-perfectionist mantras! Here are some good ones:

  • “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
  • “Sometimes there are many right choices.”
  • “Don’t get it perfect, get it going.”
  • “There’s no wrong answer here.”
  • “Don’t spend your time rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
  • “Enjoy the fun of failure.” (I write about this last one in The Happiness Project.)


Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth gives herself a demerit for not rating or reviewing other podcasts — even though we ask for people to rate and review our podcast all the time. She (and I) simply didn’t know how to do it. Turns out that it’s easy! For written directions, scroll down here.

1pixgretchen rubin recording podcast

Gretchen’s Gold Star: In related news, I give a gold star to all the listeners who have so generously rated and reviewed us already. We so appreciate it — it really does help new listeners discover the show.

Three Resources:

  1. 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.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.
  2. I’ve announced my book tour schedule, and I’d love to see a lot of “Happier” listeners at events. Info here.
  3. If you want to pre-order my book The Four Tendencies (and it’s a big help to me, if you do), go here.

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

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

Also check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #126

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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 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.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

HAPPIER listening!

  • Margaretk

    Your podcast made me laugh when you mentioned a Lego room.We have a Lego room with no legos! When our middle son was crawling around and putting everything in his mouth, we put a baby gate on our multipurpose room and insisted the 4 year old keep all the legos in there – for safety reasons. This saved our feet many a Lego injury. Eventually the crawler could climb over the gate and no longer chewed on the legos, and the legos were moved to the kids rooms, and are now in bins in the basement as the boys are in their twenties. But we all still call that room the Lego room. It has two computers, the TV, my sewing and crafting space and maybe a few legos down the heating vent.

  • Mimi Gregor

    Many of our rooms were repurposed, as they weren’t needed for their original purpose. We have three “bedrooms”, but only needed one, so one of them is our office, where we keep our computers and desk, and the other one is our diningroom, as it is opposite the kitchen. Our original “diningroom” is separated from the livingroom by a large archway. We do not entertain much, so did not need a formal diningroom. We do, however, have parrots and lots of house plants. That room had the most sunlight, so it became our “bird room”, where we keep our parrots, plants, and have a small cafe table. We have a foyer by our front door, which was wasted space. When my husband took up the piano, it was the ideal place to put it. It’s far enough from the bedroom that he can practice at night without disturbing me. Even our front porch is not immune to repurposing; we never used it for sitting, so when we needed someplace to put our exercise machines, that became our “exercise room”. It can be used on all but the very hottest or coldest days.

  • Loved this episode all around! I have a room devoted entirely to junk. I know it’s a problem, I know it could be put to a better use, but the junk! LOL! I have no idea what to do with it. Maybe some day.

    On that topic, perfectionist mantras. I’m a super perfectionist and it’s a source of drive and ambition in my life, but also a lot of anxiety and self-criticism and paralysis. I’ve learned quite a few mantras: At work, I say “no one is born knowing this stuff” or the quote (from a drunken early 20th century author I forget, might be Hemingway or Fitzgerald?) “write drunk, revise sober” and try to pound out a “shitty first draft” (also a quote). At home I tell myself “what matters is that my kids are happy,” and “my good friends don’t care about the messy house” (or junk room), and “it will never be clean, but this one step will help.” And it does!

    • gretchenrubin

      I love the mantras!

  • Kirst

    Loved the exercise hack, similar to mine. The “out and back”. You run to time not distance. If you are tired, you only need to convince yourself to run 10 minutes in a straight line. If you have some energy try for 17.5 minutes… then you have to get back somehow! Magically youve done at least 20 minutes. Only need a watch. Strategy of convenience tick. Hmmm not sure where I heard that if you do cardio for minimum of 35 minutes you get the best results. Might have been a “daddy furphy”. ( Look up furphy Aussie slang)

  • Weronika

    As a perfectionist I also have to face many stumble blocks. Ono of them concerned my intention to study history of art. I wanted to do it but I imagined it as e perfect process – Me sitting in front of a computer screen for at least 4-5 hours in a row, surrounded by books to confront and check everything. But it is utterly unrealistic since I am a working person who needs to take care of her house on her own! Approximately a year ago (period of my life that coincides with a day when I discovered Gretchen’s project) I finally started approaching history of art in another way. I started learning in completely imperfect and random way. I study in the morning when I eat my breakfast (usually I study one piece of art – one picture, one sculpture and not more). And I study what I like and what I find appealing to me, without any particular order. And You know what? It works! Since I have embraced this imperfect process I have already learnt a lot! History of art became a part of my life, a source of joy and inspiration! “Do not let a perfect (that might never come) be an enemy of good enough (that is realistic to do)” is my favorite motto!

  • Lizah

    “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

  • Grandma Honey

    “People do not love us because we are perfect. People love us because we love them.”

  • Hannah Meadows

    I was struck by the discussion about repurposing rooms. You might like to consider the idea of using a spare room to help someone who needs it – through fostering a child, or joining one of the schemes providing rooms for refugees. Googling either idea yields lots of results to explore which could make a huge impact on someone else’s happiness.

  • Karen

    I have a side hustle, working as a fitness instructor for a well known gym in Canada. The owner has several good mantras including “Good enough is good enough” and “Don’t let the things you can’t do stop you from doing the things you can do.”

  • Brittany

    I love Eleanor’s nook! It looks so delightful and even sort of magical with its hiddenaway charm.

    I knew a forty year old bachelor lawyer who had a Star Wars room. It was painted red and had shelves and shelves full of action figures.

  • Janice Longoria

    I saw this one on twitter: “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Boy did that strike a chord!

  • Rhonda

    In the American quilting community, there is a saying: “Only Jesus is perfect.” Supposedly, quilters would put a deliberate mistake in their projects as a sign of humility.
    Also related to quilting, I’ve heard, “If you can’t see it from a galloping horse, it’s good enough.” That actually makes sense. When we make or do something, we are very aware of how a perfect result should look or perform. Most people who see it, however, have no idea what perfect should be, and accept it as being a good product.
    A speaker at our local quilt guild talked about perfectionism in the Japanese quilting culture. Quilting became popular in Japan during the same time as its resurgence here in the U.S., around 1976. According to the speaker, Japanese students learning to quilt commit to a seven-year period with an expert quilting instructor. Perfection in each project is the goal, which is a contrast to most students here, where the goal is to try something new and learn a new process.

  • Katie Fabrizio

    My mantra while crafting is always “completion, not perfection.” I have to remind myself that I’m much happier wth a finished project that has some flaws than something that never is completed because I obsessed over getting it exactly perfect.

  • Alex Gardner

    Can you share your resource for the Japanese paper plates?

    I love to have parties but still find a good amount of anxiety surrounding them. I’m always looking for party hacks that make them as easy as possible and love the idea of a “nice paper plate.”

  • Rachel Evans

    I listen to your podcast weekly and today I had an epiphany during this episode! I’m a satisficer and my boss is a maximizer – it explains so much of my work stress.
    I love those anit-perfectionist mantras!

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  • Marcia from Organising Queen

    I have some anti-perfectionism mantras:

    Done is better than perfect.
    80% is good enough. (this because I read somewhere that the final 20% to make any project “perfect” takes as long as the first 80%)

    Also, love Eleanor’s nook!

    Huge thanks to Kristen for telling us all how to review a podcast – I reviewed yours immediately and since then, I’m reviewing each of the podcasts I listen to til I’m done reviewing them all 🙂

  • Vero Salisbury

    I try to look at failure as a sign that I am appropriately taking some risks in life. No failure means you’re not out there trying enough. So, not having some regular failures along the way is itself a failure, you’re playing it too safe. What a great job interview question that would be–whwne was the last time you tried and failed?