Tag Archives: movies

Podcast 114: Say “I’m Sorry,” an Interview with Hollywood Legend Sherry Lansing, and a Spice-Related Hack.

Update: Elizabeth’s new podcast Happier in Hollywood launches on May 18! Also, I just finished first-pass pages for my book The Four Tendencies, which is now available for pre-order. (If you’re inclined to buy the book, it’s a big help to me if you pre-order.)

We read from Dani Shapiro’s memoir Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage.

Try This at Home: Say you’re sorry. We mention two books: Aaron Lazare’s On Apology and Gary Chapman’s The Five Languages of Apology, which argues that there are five “languages” of apology:

  • Expressing regret — “I’m sorry”
  • Accepting responsibility — “I was wrong”
  • Making restitution — “What can I do to make it right?”
  • Genuinely repenting — “I’ll try not to do that again”
  • Requesting forgiveness — “Will you please forgive me?”

 

You can find the website SorryWatch here.

Happiness Hack: If you want to collect a memento when traveling, buy spices. If you’re looking for the site about reading books related to travel destinations, it’s Longitude Books: Recommended Reading for Travelers.

Interview: Sherry Lansing. Check out Stephen Galloway‘s biography, Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker. Gosh, she is really a wise person.

In the photo, you can see me holding up the book about Sherry Lansing — also note that I’m wearing the “HAPPY” sweater that Elizabeth gave me for Christmas.

Demerit:  Elizabeth was working at home, and she covered four miles on the treadmill on the first day — but then she didn’t exercise again.

Gold Star: I give a gold star to Elizabeth for dealing with her blepharitis. I write about the Strategy of Convenience in my book about habits, Better Than Before.

New feature: Each week, at the end of the podcast, I list “Two Resources for You.”

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #114

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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.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

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A Happiness Lesson from Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”

Today is Groundhog Day, and that reminds me of one of my favorite movies…yes, Groundhog Day!

In Groundhog Day, the main character Phil Connors (Bill Murray) — a nasty, selfish guy — keeps living the same day, over and over, and repeating the same mistakes, day after day after day, until he learns to be a wiser, more loving person. It’s a brilliant, hilarious, deep movie.

This year, February 2 is Groundhog Day, and the occasion has made me reflect of the way I keep making the same happiness mistakes, over and over.

Elizabeth and I have talked about this on the Happier podcast. Now that we’ve been recording episodes for two years, we’re starting to repeat certain demerits that we’ve given ourselves. Because even when we know we’re doing something that’s not good for our happiness, sometimes we still do it.

I’m very crabby with my family when we’re traveling, even when I know it doesn’t help.

I leave my clothes in a heap in a corner of the bedroom, even though I know that the clutter gets on my nerve.

I procrastinate about making phone calls, even though I know I’d be happier if I just crossed that task off my list.

I “snap” at my family, even when I know that my bad mood puts everyone else in a bad mood too.

Etc., etc.

I get so tired of my own faults, my own limitations! I wish I could vanquish them, once and for all. But instead, it’s like Groundhog Day.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m so happy to eat a low-carb diet. I used to think about sweets too much — it was so boring and draining. “One, two, three?” “Now, later?” “Is this too much?’

Now that I don’t eat that kind of food, all that noise is gone.

I wish I could solve other issues the same way — to just be done with them. I know that as an Upholder, it’s probably easier for me to make certain kinds of changes than it is for other people, but still, it’s tough.

But I remind myself that just like Phil Connors, every day is a new day for me to act in a way that will make me (and also other people) happier.

What Are the Funniest Movies? 11 Suggestions to Get You Thinking.

I have a friend who’s going through a very rough patch, and I said to him, “You need to take short breaks from your worries. Why don’t you make an effort to watch funny movies? They’ll give you a little boost, when you’re feeling low. And taking good care of yourself will help you deal with this situation better.”

He agreed, but as we were talking about it, he said, “Maybe it’s because of everything I’m dealing with, but I can’t think of anything I want to see. The only funny movie I can think of is Caddyshack. And I’m not even a huge fan of Caddyshack.

So I want to make him a long list of funny movies, Some thoughtful, some goofy, some old, some new, so he has something for every mood. I’m sure this list could be much longer.

What movies have I overlooked — or never seen myself?

 

Watching funny movies or TV is a great way to get a quick mood boost. It’s true: laughter is good medicine.

It made me happier just to think about these movies! This list would make a great appendix to my book about happiness, The Happiness Project.

What movie can make you laugh, every time?

Check Out These Examples of the Four Tendencies in Movies, TV Shows, & Books. Send More Examples!

Yes, I continue to be obsessed with the Four Tendencies framework I created.

Just last night, at a dinner party, I expounded on my theory to both dinner partners, separately (one Upholder, one Questioner). Am I becoming a bore? Perhaps.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can find out here whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

One of my favorite things has been to gather mottoes for the Four Tendencies. So many hilarious, brilliant ones! (If you want a mug with your Tendency and its motto, you can buy one here.)

Now I’m collecting movies, novels, and TV shows that illustrate the Four Tendencies. And I need your help. I have many examples, but I want more. Please send your suggestions — especially for Rebel. I’m surprised that I don’t have lots of fictional examples of Rebels, but so far, I don’t.

Upholder:

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling — Hermione is a textbook Upholder. She constantly (and annoyingly) reminds Harry and Ron about the regulations and laws of the magical world, she never falls behind on her homework, and she becomes very anxious when anyone breaks a law or even a school rule. Nevertheless, when she becomes convinced that official expectations are unjust, she crusades against them, even in the face of others’ indifference or outright disapproval, as she did in her campaign to improve the poor treatment of house-elves. In her final year at Hogwarts, she quits school and opposes the Ministry of Magic in order to fight the evil Voldemort.

The Bridge on the River Kwai — The character of Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness) is a magnificent portrait of an Upholder, with all the strengths and terrible weaknesses that accompany the Tendency.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer — A thoughtful reader wrote to me to say that she thought Buffy from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an Upholder— but shockingly, I’ve never watched that show, so I don’t have a view myself. What do you think? Is Buffy an obvious Upholder?

Game of Thrones series — When Lord Stannis Baratheon and his men were besieged during war, they were saved when infamous smuggler Davos Seaworth brought supplies through the blockade. After the war, Stannis knighted Davos for his act—but he didn’t forgive Davos’s earlier crimes; he enforced the law by chopping off the tips of the fingers on the outlaw’s left hand. Later, when his older brother King Robert Baratheon dies, Stannis believes the crown should pass to him, as the next-oldest male in line. So he fights to assume his rightful place, and sacrifices everything he values along the way—even though he doesn’t even seem to want to be king. (I’m going by the TV show here; I haven’t read the books in a while.)

Questioner:

Parks and RecreationRon Swanson (Rick Offerman) is an outstanding example of a Questioner. He willingly upholds rules and expectations that he thinks makes sense—such as gun licensing laws—but ignores rules that seem unjustified—such as the building codes for his woodworking shop.

The X-Files — I haven’t watched the series in a long time, but I think I’m correct in remembering that Mulder and Scully are both Questioners, right?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteJane Eyre is a Questioner. In fact, on the very first page of the book, Jane’s hateful aunt Mrs. Reed literally calls her “Questioner” to explain why she finds Jane annoying: “Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners.” (I had to look up “caviller”; it means “one who quibbles.”)

Obliger:

It’s a Wonderful Life George Bailey (James Stewart) is an Obliger who, at every juncture, meets outer expectations but not  inner expectations. The movie shows both the risks and the rewards of the Obliger path.  Note that when George finally drops into Obliger-rebellion, it’s aimed at himself, as so often happens with Obliger-rebellion. It makes me sad to reflect that most Obligers don’t have a Clarence to help them.

Before Midnight — Céline (Julie Delpy) expresses Obliger frustration and is shown progressing into full Obliger-rebellion.

27 Dresses — Obliger Jane (Katherine Heigl) satisfies everyone’s expectations, until her deceitful sister Tess pushes her too hard, and she rebels with a dramatic, destructive, ugly gesture (spoiler alert: it involves a wedding slide show). When her best friend Casey questions her actions, Jane defends herself, saying, “You’re the one who is always telling me to stand up for myself!” Casey answers, “Yeah. But that’s not what you did. What you did was unleash twenty years of repressed feelings in one night.” Yup. That’s Obliger-rebellion.

Rebel:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — Lady Bertram is a thorough Rebel; she’s also a good example of how Rebels may appear proper and conventional — until closer consideration reveals that they do only what they want to do.

Do you have any examples to add? Do you disagree with any of my categorizations?

It’s funny to me that I, as an Upholder, have lots of examples of Upholders, and the fewest examples of the Rebel Tendency, which is the opposite of the Upholder Tendency. I’m sure there’s a lesson in that. So suggest more examples!

9 Terrific Movies that Always Make Me Feel Happier

If I’m in a blue mood, one of the best ways to distract myself, and give myself a quick shot of cheer, is to watch a laugh-inducing movie.

Last week, I posted about 7 great movies about the nature of happiness and love. These are wonderful movies; they’re transcendent, but not in a laugh-out-loud way. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happpy. A mystery.

Here, though, are nine movies that always put a smile on my face:

  1. Shrek — I’ve seen this movie countless times, and it gets funnier every time. “That’s a niiiiiiice boulder.”
  2. Groundhog Day — very funny, and also very deep.
  3. The Sound of Music — I think I’ve memorized every word of the dialogue and every note of every song.
  4. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — funny, whimsical, just a little bit eerie, makes me nostalgic for my childhood in a nice way.
  5. Tootsie — how I love this movie. So many funny lines.
  6. Annie Hall — again, I know every line.
  7. This Is Spinal Tap — I love all Christopher Guest movies, but this is my favorite.
  8. Monsters, Inc. — so hilarious, so clever; my favorite part is the “blooper reel” at the end.
  9. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery — I confess, I can’t remember much about the movie, but I’m including it on the list because I love the opening sequence so much. Watch it here if you need a quick pick-me-up.

In the podcast, in episode 61, Elizabeth and I talk about familiarity vs. novelty. I love familiarity, and have re-watched these movies many times. But not everyone loves to watch (or read) things over and over, I know.

What movies would you add? I’d love to add a bunch of suggestions to my to-watch list.