Tag Archives: holidays

Podcast 48: Create a Temporary Photo Gallery, and Do You Suffer from the Sunday Blues?

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

Update: We’re thrilled! Our first live show is tomorrow! And it has SOLD OUT. Yowza. If you’re coming to the Brava Theater on January 21, when we record an episode live, want a chance to be on the show? Email us with your New Year’s resolution, and maybe we’ll get to talk about it on stage. Send an email to podcast@gretchenrubincom, with the subject line “New Year’s resolution.”

Update: Henry joins us to tell us some fascinating listener responses to the question about New Year Rituals.

Try This at Home: Create a temporary photo gallery in your house. I mention this behind-the-scenes video from Happier at Home where I show the photo gallery I put up only for Valentine’s Day.

Happiness Stumbling Block — with Special Guests. Laura Mayer and Sarah Bentley from Panoply join us to talk about the happiness stumbling block of the Sunday blues. Do you suffer from the Sunday blues? How do you deal with it?

Listener Question: Brett asks, “Does maintaining relationships with unhappy friends and family  have to be toxic to your own happiness?”

 Gretchen’s Demerit : I keep tinkering with the parts of my book draft that are already good, instead of focusing my attention on the Introduction — doing what’s fun instead of what matters most.

 Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the Harry Potter audio-books. So good!

 

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

HAPPIER listening!

What Do You Do with Holiday Cards? Keep, Toss, Store…?

This week  we started getting holiday cards in the mail. I love it! I love seeing photos of people’s families, and I love the friendly feeling of getting all that good mail (for once).

But here’s the question: what do you do with the cards?

I admire the cards, keep them on the table in the hallway for a few days so that my husband and daughters can admire them — and then I toss them.

When I mentioned this to a friend, she literally gasped out loud. She was shocked. She keeps cards through January before she throws them away, and she thought it was callous and disrespectful of me to toss them so quickly. (She didn’t say that to me, in just those words, but I got her drift.)

Some people display cards, on the fridge, the mantelpiece, the bulletin board. But I like a bare fridge, and we don’t have a mantelpiece or bulletin board to use. So if I kept them, they’d just be in a stack on a counter someplace.

I started asking friends what they did, and I discovered that one friend keeps the cards. Indefinitely.

Now, I do keep a copy of our annual card — which, as I explain in Happier at Home, we send at Valentine’s Day, because life is so crazy in December. If my sister or my parents sent cards, I’d keep those cards. But to keep every card we get? Even from close friends? In a New York City apartment, every inch of space is valuable. And even if I lived in a giant barn in the country, I wouldn’t keep the cards. It would be too much space, devoted to items of too little personal value.

I don’t want to sound like the Grinch.  As I said, I love seeing the cards, and I appreciate the effort that people go to, to send them. Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that relationship are a key — probably the key — to happiness, and holiday cards are a tradition that helps to keep social bonds going. And it makes us happier to be reminded of the people who are important to us.

But I feel like once I’ve seen the cards and been reminded of the relationship, they’ve done their work.

Are you shocked by the idea of throwing them out after just a few days? If you save them for a certain amount of time, how long?

What do you do with holiday cards?

Podcast 40: Holiday Episode: Cornucopia of Try-This-at-Homes from Listeners, and Thoughts on Decorations.

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

Very Special Episode, Holiday edition! Don’t miss the bonus at the end of the episode, when Elizabeth’s son Jack recites a holiday poem.

Update: Elizabeth and I talk about how we divide up our holidays.

Listener Try This at Home: We asked everyone, “What’s your Try This at Home for staying happier, healthier, and more productive over the holidays? We got so many great answers.

One listener suggested reading my post about “8 tips for dealing with difficult relatives during holidays.

I mention being an under-buyer. Want to read about under-buyer vs. over-buyer?

Questioner for Listeners: We also asked, “What’s the thing that’s the essential element of the holiday for you?” For instance, for Elizabeth, the essential element of Thanksgiving is stuffing — and the hanging-out time.

Elizabeth’s Demerit:  Elizabeth has non-functioning twinkle lights dangling off her house.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I gave a gold star to our mother, who gave me a pre-assembled set of holiday decorations for Halloween. See photo! And note that although tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I still haven’t put away our Halloween decorations.

Call for comments, questions, observations!

In a few weeks, we’re going to do a round-up episode on the Four Tendencies. We’ve had so many great comments from listeners, so we want to highlight some responses — and we want more. In particular, we want to throw out a few questions.

How does your career align with your Tendency, for better or worse?

If you use the Four Tendencies at work — you’re a doctor, a teacher, a manager — how do use them?

How does your Tendency influence your relationship with your sweetheart?

 

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Listen at Happiercast.com/40

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.

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.)

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

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 toHappier 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!

HAPPIER listening!

 

A Happy Habit: Celebrating Valentine’s Breakfast (as Pictured)

As part of the happiness-boosting experiments I tried while writing The Happiness Project — or was it while writing Happier at Home? — one of my favorite was to celebrate holiday breakfasts.

I’ve been doing this for several years now.

I copied this idea from a friend, after I saw how she’d set her table for her Valentine’s Day breakfast. For minor holidays, these days, I prepare a “holiday breakfast.”

For birthdays, I have a special cupcake plate, a special candle, and a big banner. For Halloween, I have special plates, special pumpkin candles, those window-gel decorations that stick on windows and mirrors, and I dye the peanut-butter black (my daughter eats peanut-butter on toast for breakfast). Etc.

For Valentine’s Day last Saturday, I put out my special place mats, heart-shaped plates, scattered a few Sweethearts and Hershey’s kisses candies around the table, and dyed the milk pink, with added fancy butterfly straws. As the photo shows (yes, that is an actual photo of what I did), I didn’t do anything fancy.

Now, like most traditions, this was a bit of a pain. When I woke up that morning, I didn’t feel much like pulling out the decorations and getting everything set up.

But the preparations weren’t very onerous, and it was a lot of fun. I took photos, and I sent photos to the grandparents, and we enjoyed ourselves.

I celebrate many minor holidays this way — for instance, I planned this silly celebration of Leap Day.

One of the nice things about kids is that it doesn’t take much for them to feel like something is “special,” so even something simple is very gratifying. These kinds of traditions mark the passage of time in a pleasant way and add a note of festivity to everyday life.

Also, the major holidays can become a lot of work. It’s nice to celebrate in a very manageable way. And by making this a habit — meaning that I don’t ask myself “What, if anything, should we do for Valentine’s Day this year?” but just follow this plan without any debate — I save myself a lot of strain.

However, I realized just this morning that I forgot a key part of our Valentine’s celebration!

Each year, instead of sending holiday cards, when everything is so crazy, we send a family Valentine’s Day card. After we send out each card, I put one in a pink/white/red/silver frame, and add it to our Valentine’s Day gallery. This display is very festive, it’s great to see the girls change over the years, and because these photos are out for a short time, they don’t fade into the background as photos tend to do.

If you’d like to see what our Valentine’s card gallery actually looks like, watch here.

But this year, I utterly forgot to unpack the pictures! Oh well, we’ll display them for a week or so, just a bit late.

One of the main themes of both my happiness and habits projects is memory. Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age. My shorthand for this worry is The days are long, but the years are short. In fact, of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people.

How about you? Have you found ways to celebrate minor holidays, or to find other ways to build and preserve happy memories?

Fighting Holiday Food Temptation? Try These 13 Tips.

I think a lot about habits, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about habits related to holiday eating.

The holidays are supposed to be a festive time, but many people feel anxiety and regret around food and drink—the holiday season is so full of temptation.

I have to say, I enjoy the holidays much more, now that I’ve got a better grip on my habits, than I used to.

Here are some ways to apply the strategies of habit-change to this challenge:

1. Buy food in small containers. Studies show that people give themselves larger portions out of larger boxes, so I don’t buy that economy box of whatever. Buy the little box of gingerbread cookies, not the giant box.

2. Make tempting food inconvenient—put cookies in a hard-to-reach spot, set the freezer to a very cold temperature so it’s hard to spoon out ice cream, store goodies in hard-to-open containers. The Strategy of Inconvenience is simple, but crazily effective.

3. Wear snug-fitting clothes. That’s the Strategy of Monitoring. When we’re aware of what we’re doing, we behave better.

4. Dish food up in the kitchen, and don’t bring serving platters onto the table (except vegetables).

5. Pile your plate with everything you intend to eat, and don’t get seconds once that food is gone.

6. Skip the add-ons: tell the waiter that you don’t want the side of fries. When I do this, I sometimes feel like Sally from When Harry Met Sally as I quibble about how my food should be served, but oh well.

7. After dinner, to signal to yourself that “Eating’s over,” brush your teeth. I’d heard about this habit, so I decided to try it, but I was skeptical. I’ve been amazed by how effective tooth-brushing is. This is the Strategy of First Steps–because that tooth-brushing is the first step toward bedtime.

8. Don’t allow myself to get too hungry or too full. This is the Strategy of Foundation.

9. Realize that, with some things, you might not be able to have just one bite. I sure can’t. In the abstainer/moderator split, I’m a hard-core abstainer. It’s far easier for me to skip cookies and chocolate than it is to have a sensible portion. The Strategy of Abstaining is not a strategy that works for everyone, but for some people, it’s enormously helpful.

10. Never eat hors d’oeuvres. This kind of bright-line rule, which is an application of the Strategy of Clarity, is very helpful.

11. Don’t eat food I don’t like, just because it’s there. No one cares if I have a serving of asparagus or cranberry sauce.

12, Plan an exception. Planned exceptions are a great way to break a good habit in a way that feels limited, controlled, and positive.

13. Watch for loopholes! Some loopholes that are especially popular during the holidays include the “This doesn’t count” loophole, the “Concern for others” loophole, and the “fake self-actualization” loophole. Remember, we’re adults, and we can mindfully make exceptions to our good habits, but everything counts.

Although it may seem festive and carefree to indulge in lots of treats, in the end, we may feel guilty and overstuffed. Which doesn’t make the holiday happier.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: By giving myself limits, I give myself freedom.

Intrigued? Pre-order my book Better Than Before, in which I reveal the secrets about how we can change our habits–really!

NOTE: Email subscribers, I apologize for the glitch in the emails that you’re getting. It’s such a pain, I know — I’m experiencing it, too. Some terrific tech minds are trying to diagnose and fix the problem, so please bear with me. I hope to get it fixed soon.