Tag Archives: festivity

Podcast 89: Control the Cubicle in Your Pocket, Mail an Actual Invitation–and What Habit Would People Change?

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

Try This at Home: Control the cubicle in your pocket.

Happiness Hack: Mail an actual invitation, say, to a family gathering.

Know Yourself Better: If the people around you could change one of your habits, what would they change?

Listener Question: Kristen asks, “What is the origin of our Tendency?” Again, to take a quiz for the Four Tendencies, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here. If you want to know when my new book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves, sign up here.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Because of her renovation, Elizabeth didn’t water her trees.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Curriculum Night! I love getting the chance to hear what my daughters will be learning and to meet their teachers.

MugObligerHappierUpdate: Mugs! We have mugs for sale. A Happier mug, or you can also buy a mug specifically for your Tendency. Just scroll down here.  (Want to take a quiz for the Four Tendencies, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here. )

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #89

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How To Clear Clutter and Be More Festive, In One Stroke.

Yesterday, I scored a rare victory: I hit on a solution that allowed me to satisfy several resolutions, all meant to make my home more homey, in one stroke. I was able to:

I laid the groundwork for this solution last year, and yesterday, I saw it pay off.

Last Easter, I had a brilliant idea. I realized that, of the dozens of stuffed animals that cram our shelves, many were bunnies. I went around the apartment and gathered up all the bunnies I could find, stuck them into a bag, and put them away with the Easter decorations. (We have enough stuffed animals that my daughters didn’t notice the mass bunny disappearance.)

This year, when I was filling in for the Easter Bunny on Saturday night, I unpacked the several bunnies and sat them around the room (which took five minutes). I was impressed; it was an easy task, yet the bunnies’ color and whimsy added a lot to the holiday atmosphere.

Well, when my daughters emerged to hunt for their Easter eggs, they got a big kick out of the bunny explosion. My younger daughter played with the bunnies all day, even though she rarely plays with the stuffed animals in her room. These old toys were new and interesting, because she hadn’t seen them for a year.

I was thrilled: I gave myself a way to get neglected toys off the shelf, make them fun for my daughters again, and add to the festivity in our apartment—in a quick, painless way. Last night, I stuffed the bunnies back into a plastic bag, where they’ll sit until next Easter.

Very satisfying.

Have you found any quick, easy ways to make the holidays more festive? I love festivity, but I don’t love chores.

Eight Tips for Dealing with Difficult Relatives over the Holidays.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eight tips for dealing with difficult relatives over the holidays.

For many people, the holidays are a joyous time; for many people, the holidays are a dreaded holiday. One factor that can make it tough is spending time with difficult relatives. Here are some strategies for keeping family dinners pleasant:

1. Before you walk into the situation, spend a few minutes thinking about how you want to behave. Don’t just react in the moment; consider how you want to act. If you’ve had unpleasant experiences in the past, think about why they were unpleasant and what you could do to change the dynamics of the situation. You may just need to be more careful about getting enough sleep! If you want a peaceful dinner, think about how to contribute to a harmonious atmosphere. In particular…

2. Think about how topics that seem innocuous to you might upset someone else. You may think you’re showing a polite interest, but some questions will rub a person the wrong way: “So do you have a boyfriend yet?” “When are you two going to get married/start a family?” “Didn’t you give up smoking?” “Can you afford that?” “When are you going to get a real job?” Show an interest with more open-ended questions, like “What are you up to these days?” or “What’s keeping you busy?” Also…

3. Avoid strife. Some families enjoy arguing passionately amongst themselves; however, most don’t handle arguments very well. If you know Uncle Bob’s views on politics are going to drive you crazy, don’t bring it up! And if he brings it up, you don’t have to engage. Try to make a joke of it, and say something like, “Let’s agree to disagree,” “Let’s not talk about that, and give the rest of the family something to be thankful for,” etc. There is a time and a place for everything.

4. Don’t drink much alcohol. It can seem festive and fun to fill up your glass, but it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re drinking. Alcohol makes some people feel merry, but it also makes some people feel combative, or self-pitying, or lowers their inhibitions in a destructive way. I basically had to give up drinking because alcohol makes me so belligerent.

5. As best you can, play your part in the tradition. For some people, traditions are very, very important; for others, no. You may feel irritated by your brother’s insistence on having exactly the same food every Thanksgiving, or by your mother’s extreme reaction to the possibility that you might not come home for the day. Try to be patient and play your part. In the long run, traditions and rituals tend to help sustain happiness and family bonds. On the other hand…

6. If you’re the one who wants everything to be perfect, try to ease up on yourself and everyone else, so you can enjoy the day, whatever happens. Make the best of the situation. Even f the day isn’t exactly the way you hoped it would be, try to enjoy what it is.

7. Don’t stuff yourself. Research shows that in fact, most people add just one pound during the holidays – but then they never lose it. You’ll have more fun if you’re not feeling uncomfortably full and then guilty about having eaten too much. Think about strategies for staying in control of holiday eating; feeling bad about having eaten too much can make you feel irritable and angry, which spills over into your interactions with other people.

8. Find reasons to be grateful. Be thankful that you get to cook, or that you don’t have to cook. Be thankful that you get to travel, or that you don’t have to travel. Be thankful for your family or your friends. Find something. Studies show that gratitude is a major happiness booster. Also, feeling grateful toward crowds out emotions like resentment and annoyance.

Wait, you might be thinking, these strategies don’t tell you how to deal with your difficult relatives — they tell you how to behave yourself. Well, guess what! You can’t do anything to change what your difficult relatives are going to do; you can only change yourself. Also, in many situations, people behave a difficult way in reaction to something else. So you may think your niece flies off the handle without any reason, but she’s furious because she thinks you’re needling her about her appearance. If you behave differently, she will too.

Have you found any helpful strategies for dealing with a difficult Thanksgiving situation? What more would you add?

* Yes, it’s holiday time! If you’re giving The Happiness Project, email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com, and I’ll send you a personalized, signed bookplate for the recipient. Or ask for one for yourself! Just be sure to include your mailing address. Feel free to ask for as many as you want, and yes, they’re free.