Podcast 128: Connect with TV, Conquering the Snooze Alarm–and Is It Possible to be a Mix of the Four Tendencies?

Update: Elizabeth is excited because tomorrow on the “Happier in Hollywood” podcast, she and Sarah talk about a very common happiness stumbling block: self-criticism. When is it helpful, and when is it toxic?

I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 41 days. So close, and yet so far!

Pre-orders give a big boost to a book, so to thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

Try This at Home:  Connect through television. On episode 9 of “Happier in Hollywood,” the weekly “Hollywood Hack” was to “watch the TV shows your boss watches” to create an easy way to connect.

But TV is a great way to connect not only with a boss, but also with co-workers, teenagers, grandparents…many relationships. Have you ever used TV to strengthen an important relationship?

I quote from Tyler Cowen’s Discover You Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Your Motivate Your Dentist.

Happiness Hack: Put your alarm device across the room, so you have to get out of bed in order to turn off the noise.

Four Tendencies Tip: If you want to take the Quiz, to see whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here.

People often suggest that they think they’re a mix of Tendencies, but I argue that just about every one of us does fall into one core Tendency.

That said, the Tendencies do overlap, and it’s possible to “tip” to a Tendency that overlaps with your core Tendency. For instance, I’m an UPHOLDER/Questioner, and Elizabeth is an OBLIGER/Questioner.

Listener Question: Debbie asks how to figure out if she truly finds it fun to pursue the outdoor activities that her husband loves.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth has started playing a new app game, Two Dots.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I managed to stay (reasonably) calm while Eliza and I were shopping for some things she needs for college.

This Week’s Free Resources:

  1. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.
  2.  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.

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.

As I mentioned above, 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 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,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Check out Lyft  — join the ride-sharing company that believes in treating its people better. Go to Lyft.com/happier to get a $500 new-driver bonus. Limited time only.

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 #128

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 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!

  • Sandra Seidel

    Hi – I’m listening to Debbie’s story & I have to chime in! When we moved to California I happened upon a knitting group & ended up in 2 by the time we had to move. The hardest part of moving was leaving these friends! Sharing a passion connects you in a unique way because you appreciate each other in a way that someone who doesn’t share your passion does. I’ve been in garden groups that I loved too. So Debbie find your girlfriends/tribe & you’ll be a happier wife!!!
    Thanks for the podcast…back to listen to the rest ☺️
    Kind regards,

  • JaneInAZ

    Back in the early 90’s, I transferred to a job halfway across the country. It seemed my new boss and I had almost nothing in common, but he was a big fan of the new TV show, “Tool Time”. I thought it might be a good idea to start watching it, too. Turns out it was a pretty funny half hour, so win-win.

  • Shayne

    My wife and I started watching “Austin and Allie” with our daughter. It made for some fun evenings and really kept us connected. That lead to “Liv and Maddie,” etc.

    Several months ago, my daughter and her friends really got into Hamilton. Since she had a singularly spectacular spring, I bought her the soundtrack.

    Aside from the demerit I deserve for buying my 11-yr old daughter the complete, unedited version, it has offered us so many opportunities for connection. It’s opened up conversations about ethics, economics, history, politics and words we shouldn’t use in school.

    As a bonus, I’ve got my friends into Hamilton too, so now we have something to talk about and reference that doesn’t involve me watching television.

    My older step- daughter loved that my wife and I enjoyed a lot of the same music she was into. We introduced her to U2 and Foo Fighers. She introduced us to My Chemical Romance and Deathcab for Cutie. Her bands have much longer names than mine.

    This podcast is timely for me. I was just thinking the other day when we visited her in Denver that I never had similar connections with my parents.

    Yes, I am a huge proponent of enjoying our kids’ arts!

  • Le Genou de Claire

    I think that all parents of young kids have tried “Connect with TV.” I have watched Thomas ad nauseam — you probably can relate, there’s only so much TV one can watch with child with genuine enthusiasm. This is when “Be Claire” goes down the drain and bonding with my child is more important — and in turn in my case, brings me much happiness. Just watching my son recounting the story at bedtime with such light in his eyes is precious.

    And thanks Gretchen for your timely gold-star: I’ve been moaning and groaning about having to drive my son to summer camp (traffic, heat, etc. etc.), yet I realize, this is the last time that I’ll ever drive him to this particular camp, at this particular age, at this particular day. I will now pick him up and “smell the roses” along the way.

  • Kimberlee Williams

    Regarding Debbie’s question…if you have to ask if you are having fun, you are not! Or as the host says on another podcast I listen to (Women Wanting More), “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a f*** no!” I’d bet Debbie’s husband has a big personality like my late husband–I found that I had to push back in a nice way to make room for my fun. Debbie could agree to the outdoorsy vacations if they also involve stops at some fun, funky yarn stores on the way, for example.

  • Frances Dowell

    I tend to avoid what I call “cringe comedy,” where the source of the humor is discomfort/embarrassment/etc. For that reason, I never watched the American version of “The Office,” having seen a couple of episodes of the UK show. But this summer when we were at the beach, my husband and teenage sons, all fans of the show, were watching and convinced me to give it a try. While I found it cringe-y, I also discovered that I really enjoyed it. My younger son especially was eager to show me his favorite episodes, and when we got home, we started watching from the beginning. As a result, we’ve had a lot of great conversations about character development (i.e. how Dwight evolves into a much more interesting character than everyone’s favorite, Jim), group dynamics, work, why some episodes/stories are great and others are duds, etc. It’s been a wonderful way to connect.

  • Tanya

    So by your graph, any type can tip to 2 other types, but will not tip to a 4th type? I am an obliger that tips to an upholder, but it looks like obligers will never tip to questioner…that would just be another lesser tendency if they had questioner qualities? Elizabeth?

    Also, this aspect of your system reminds me of the enneagram: for on the Riso and Hudson descriptions, for whatever number, you can have the “wing” of one of the adjacent numbers. I am a 6 on that system, and my wing is a 7. I also show qualities of 5, but fit the description of a 6 with a 7 wing. Without the wings, I don’t think the descriptions would be as fruitful, at least for my type. In your book, do you describe the sub-types? (As the enneagram calls it?) Thanks.

    • Jennifer

      I have the same question as Tanya, regarding the tendencies graph. I think I’m like Elizabeth, an Obliger that tips Questioner, but as it’s visually represented, that doesn’t look possible – does the quiz tell you which way you tip?

      • gretchenrubin

        Elizabeth and I misspoke. She’s an Obliger who tips Upholder.

  • MerriDee Fraters Copeland

    I preordered months ago, can I get the video or do I have to wait?

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes you can get it!

      • MerriDee Fraters Copeland

        Is there a link? I love your stuff!

  • Nina

    Thank you so much Debbie for sharing your question – it really made me reflect on my relationship with my husband. Hope you can find a way to do activities you both enjoy and thanks for reminding me I need to make the effort to make this happen for me too!

  • Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth! I have a galley of The Four Tendencies from BEA (lucky me!), and I loved reading more about the overlap between tendencies. It helped me understand my own tendency more – I’m a Questioner who tips Upholder. (I was always surprised when you mentioned that Questioners often think New Year’s Resolutions are based on an arbitrary date … I love New Year’s Resolutions! I will start new habits / goals whenever I get the urge, but I do love the fresh slate of a new year, must be the Upholder side of me!

    I have a suggestion / request: Would you consider doing a “deep dive” episode on building better eating & exercise habits, based on your tendency? It feels like these are some of the hardest habits to build and stick to, and it would be so wonderful to hear an episode devoted to building healthy eating and exercise habits based on your tendency! As a Questioner, I’ve found that the “Think of your future self” strategy works WONDERFULLY for me. I may not feel like getting off the couch and going to the gym, but focusing on “in one hour you’ll be really glad you did” instead of “but I’d much rather just sit here!” helps me get off my butt and go to the gym. (And focusing on how I’ll feel later also helps me not make poor food choices — I can’t argue with the fact that the food will make me feel bad!)

    Thank you for your wonderful podcast!

    • gretchenrubin

      It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the book! Great suggestion for a future discussion. These are issues that so many people grapple with.

  • Anne E Fitzgerald

    I really enjoyed your suggestion to connect with TV. I have been doing something similar with my colleagues at work. Instead of watching the show, I will read about it and then ask them questions or discuss it with them (it takes less time for me to read about it then it takes to watch it). I don’t watch Game of Thrones but I read the recaps and then discuss it with my coworkers that do. I am in the science field and the members of my group are all men except me. Most of them watch football and I can’t stand the sport. But I know their favorite teams. So I will read an article about their team if it comes up. I don’t read recap of games but an article about an injured player or something that happened in the game (it takes very little time to do this). Then I talk to them about it and what they think. It is a way of me connecting with them and it also opens up the conversation because from there we can turn the conversation to other things. I might not enjoy football, but I really enjoy conversations with people and hearing someone talk very excitedly about something they are into makes me happier.