Tag Archives: perfectionism

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

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #126

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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!

Story: Excellence Sometimes Requires Mediocrity.

This week’s video story: Sometimes excellence requires mediocrity.


You can read about this incident, when Nixon repeated a remark that Eisenhower had made to him, “A true executive can sign a poor letter without changing it,” in Richard Reeves’s book, President Nixon: Alone in the White House.

How about you? Do you sometimes find that, in order to achieve excellence, you sometimes have to allow yourself to let go of the desire to make everything perfect? This is much, much more difficult than it sounds, in my experience.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Find the archives of videos here.  More than 1.7 MILLION views. Don’t forget to subscribe!

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

Secret of Adulthood: Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:


I cribbed this Secret of Adulthood from Voltaire. It reminds me: the 20-minute walk I take is better than the 3-mile run I never start. Having people over for take-out is better than never having people to an elegant dinner party.

Agree, disagree?

Pigeon of Discontent: “I’m a Perfectionist; I Fear Failure.”

Each week, I post a video about some Pigeon of Discontent raised by a reader. Because, as much as we try to find the Bluebird of Happiness, we’re also plagued by those small but pesky Pigeons of Discontent.

This week’s Pigeon of Discontent, suggested by a reader, is: “I’m a perfectionist, and I fear failure.”


If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…

Enjoy the fun of failure.

7 tips for handling criticism.

Lower the bar.

Post your own Pigeon of Discontent. But be fast! I’m considering changing the subject of the videos, so I may only do a few more Pigeons of Discontent. Time to try something new (and risk failure…)

You can check out the archives of videos here. It’s crazy–my YouTube channel has passed the mark for one million viewers.

Lower the Bar.

I only saw it once, and I can’t find it now online, alas, but I’ve never forgotten an old Saturday Night Live skit from many years ago. One of the characters, playing a frustrated swinger, says “Ladies, ladies, ladies! You’ve got to lower your standards.”

I’ve often invoked that mantra — “Lower your standards” — when I find that there’s a resolution that I really want to keep, but for some reason, don’t seem to be able to keep. Recently, I’ve changed the wording to “Lower the bar.” “Lower your standards” suggests that I’m embracing mediocrity; “lower the bar” suggests that I’m clearing away hurdles.

For instance, I’m in four books groups — a regular book group and three children’s/YA literature reading groups (a lot, I know!). In each of these groups, we take turns meeting for dinner at each other’s houses. I serve take-out Chinese food and store-bought cookies — because if I raised the bar any higher, I might feel like I couldn’t handle belonging to so many groups. The imperfect dinner that I serve is better than the perfect dinner I never serve.

Similarly, with exercise, I have a very low bar. I’m a natural couch-potato, but by allowing myself to do very manageable work-outs, I’ve been able to turn myself into a regular exerciser. The moderate forty-minute work-out I do several times a week is better than the rigorous work-out I never do. I wanted to keep a journal of my family life, but I knew I wouldn’t keep up with it; I lowered the bar and now faithfully keep a one-sentence journal. A journal entry of one sentence a day is better than three pages never.

Voltaire wrote, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” When I find myself backing away from something that I want to do, I try lowering the bar, and it helps.

How about you? Have you found a way to lower the bar?

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

* I love reading Dan Pink‘s blog — always thought-provoking and funny.

* Waiting to buy the paperback of The Happiness Project? It’s coming out in just a few days. If you’re inclined to buy it, for yourself or a friend, you’d really help me out by pre-ordering it now. Pre-orders give a BIG boost to a book. (Can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller.) If you do pre-order, as a thank-you, I’ll send you my page of Happiness Paradoxes. Just drop me an email at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com, with the note “I pre-ordered.”
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.