Tag Archives: Strategy of Four Tendencies

Podcast 108: Use Your Shower as a “Happiness Booth,” Use Your Smart-Phone as a Magnifier, and a Question from the Movie “Before Sunrise.”

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

Update: Along with her writing partner Sarah Fain, Elizabeth is busy getting ready to launch her new podcast Happier in Hollywood. And by the way, if you love listening to podcasts, this is the month of “#Trypod,” when we’re all helping people discover new podcasts or help show them how to listen to podcasts. So encourage people to #Trypod.

Try This at Home: We got this idea from our listener Rebecca: Use your shower as a “happiness booth.”

If you want to hear our interview with Rosanne Cash in episode 22, and hear a clip from “When the Master Calls the Roll,” listen here.

Happiness Hack: You can use the camera on your smart-phone as a magnifying glass. Who knew?

Know Yourself Better: Inspired by the 1995 movie Before Sunrise, we discuss the question: Do you feel more like Celine, who feels like an old woman looking back on her life, or more like Jesse, who feels like a kid pretending to be a grown-up?

If you’re interested in this idea of “anticipatory nostalgia,” I talk about it at the conclusion of my book Happier at Home.

Here’s my one-minute video, The Years Are Short.

Listener Question: Our listener Cindy likes to go for a walk by herself during lunch, but now her boss wants to join her. How does she maintain her solo walk?

Demerit: Elizabeth has the habit of falling asleep when she’s putting Jack to bed at night, taking a nap, and then staying up for another few hours.

Gold Star: I give gold star to our mother and father related to signing up for exercise training sessions.

 

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

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.

Also check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

And check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #108

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.” 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.

HAPPIER listening!

Podcast 86: Why It’s Good to Bring Good News, How Other People Affect Our Habits, and a Look at Obliger-Rebellion.

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

Remember, if you live near Seattle, please come to our live event! We’ll be recording an episode of the podcast live on stage at Seattle’s Town Hall on October 13, 7:30. Tickets are $25. More info and buy tickets here. Please come, bring your friends. We’re going to sell t-shirts — cash only.

Try This at Home: Be the bearer of good news (at least sometimes).

Happiness Hack: Cathy suggests that after you return from a vacation, read books set in your vacation location, to keep the vacation vibe going.

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Other People — one of the most powerful strategies.

Listener Question: Thalia asks, “I’m an Obliger, but I’m with my parents, I act like a Rebel. What’s going on?” Thalia is experiencing Obliger-rebellion.

If you want to know when my new book about the Four Tendencies hits the shelves, sign up here.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I narrowly escape giving myself a demerit for vengefully refusing to answer Jamie’s questions.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives Adam a gold star for getting into the spirit of Halloween and wearing a costume.

Click here to get the Wedding Readings PDF now

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, check the schedule. 

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Sign up for The Great Courses Plus today and you’ll get a month of unlimited access to thousands of fascinating lectures taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Get a free month when you sign up at www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier.

And 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, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 25% off window treatments and a free in-home design consultation.

1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #86

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 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!

Podcast 18: Buy an Experience, Strengthen the Foundation, and the Challenge of Table Manners.

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

We’ve been busy preparing for the Very Special Episode, coming up in episode 20, where we’ll feature our listeners. Thanks to everyone who called or emailed us — the comments are so thought-provoking.

This week:

Try This at Home: Buy an experience. We were inspired by the suggestion made by Tom Rath, in our interview with him in episode 15.

BetterthanBefore_TiltedBetter Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Foundation (eat and drinking right; move around; get enough sleep; and — more surprisingly — unclutter). Here’s the image that Elizabeth referred to, the cover of Better Than Before.

Listener Question: “On the Four Tendencies — Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel — I’m a Questioner.  If I don’t see the point, I find it difficult to do what I’m supposed to do, and sometimes I get in my own way. So how does a Questioner get over that?” Great question. Want to take the Quiz? Here it is.

Gretchen’s Demerit: Table manners. For me and my family.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Her gold star goes to Julie, a fellow pre-school mother, who volunteered to make a keepsake yearbook for the children.

preschoolyearbookgretchenAs it happened, I did know the exact place to find my pre-school yearbook (very impressed with myself), so as promised, here’s a picture.

Don’t miss the extra little exchange between Elizabeth and me, at the very end of the podcast! (That’s called a “button” in podcasting parlance.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Check out Smith and Noble, a solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

Also, Squarespace the easiest way to create a beautiful website, blog, or online store. Go to squarespace.com, and enter the offer code “happier” at check-out to get 10% off your first purchase.

We’d love to hear from you: did you buy an experience — and if so, what was it?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

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!

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. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want 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.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. 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.)

HAPPIER listening!

Portrait of an Obliger: William Shawn, Legendary Editor of The New Yorker

Of all the insights and observations that I make about the nature of habits and human nature in Better Than Before (at least I hope I make them), I’m most proud of my Four Tendencies framework.

It was very, very hard to grasp this pattern in human character, but I have to say, now that I’ve identified it, I constantly see it on display in the world.  Those four categories (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel) do capture something–something that strikes me as truly real. (Want to find out your Tendency? 65,000 people have taken this Quiz.)

I’m always trying to understand the Four Tendencies better, and looking for examples, and evidence comes to me when I least expect it.

For instance, I recently read Lillian Ross’s memoir Here But Not Here: My Life with William Shawn and The New Yorker, and it turned out to be a case study of an Obliger — not LillianRoss, but William Shawn.

William Shawn was the legendary editor of The New Yorker. Lillian Ross was a New Yorker writer.

From the outside, William Shawn looked very successful. He was extraordinarily influential and well-regarded; he headed a great institution, where he worked for 53 years; he was married to Cecille, with three children (Wallace Shawn is his son–Vizzini in The Princess Bride); and for forty years, with his wife’s knowledge, Shawn also had a home with Lillian Ross — a dozen blocks south of his apartment with his wife and kids. Of his married life, he often told Ross, “I am there, but I am not there.”

Even if a person disagreed with his particular choices, on paper, William Shawn would appear to be someone who had the life he wanted.  But according to Lillian Ross’s memoir, that’s not how he felt.

Ross writes that Shawn felt trapped in his job as editor — he wanted to write himself — and when she asked him why he’d taken the position, he said, “There was no one else who could have kept the magazine alive…I could not abandon all those people.

She explains: “He felt eternally designated to serve others in their endeavors…he was oddly cursed by his great gift for making it possible for others to communicate their art, for he was never able to give that gift to himself.”

Occasionally he told Lillian Ross, “It’s someone else’s life that I have lived.

Although Shawn and Ross had a relationship for forty years, he never got a divorce, and lived his life split between two households. Ross explains, “There was absolutely nothing to argue about. I agreed that he could not leave Cecille. He said that his real self was not in his home [but] Cecille wanted him to be sitting there no matter what.”

Of course, we can’t know the truth about other people’s lives. But here’s how I see it, from the vantage point of the Four Tendencies.

Based on what Lillian Ross reports, I conclude that William Shawn was an Obliger; he met external expectations, but couldn’t meet his expectations for himself.

When there was a strong expectation that he play the role as editor — which is a job that requires meeting external expectations — he did it. He dreamed of doing his own writing, but this was an inner expectation, so went unmet.

His Obligerness also affected his relationship with his wife and Lillian Ross. His wife expected him to stay in the marriage. Lillian Ross did not impose an expectation that he leave the marriage. My speculation — and this is pure speculation, based on reading one memoir, of course — is that if Lillian Ross had said, “You have to choose, me or your wife,” then Shawn would have left his wife. But without Lillian Ross’s outer expectation to give him force, he couldn’t do it. (I think she was an Obliger too, by the way.)

Reading about Shawn’s life made me sad. Here was a person who had what looked like a wonderful life — but it wasn’t the life he wanted. He seemed to feel driven to meet others’ expectations for him, but he felt unable to meet his expectations for himself.

No matter what our Tendency, the key to a happier, healthier, more productive life is to understand the downsides and imitations of our Tendency, and counter-balance them.

Perhaps Shawn could’ve made an agreement with his agent or with an editor about some piece he would write — then he’d have external expectations, a deadline, and the accountability that would have helped him to be productive. Perhaps if he’d said to Lillian Ross, “You need to drive this process, I can’t do it,” she could have done it — for him.

Have you figured out how to counter-balance the downsides of your Tendency? As an Upholder, I need to question: why am I meeting this expectation, does it make sense, is this what I want? Being married to a Questioner has helped me, too — partly because I have a model, partly because sometimes I just ask my husband, “Do I have to do this?” and he helps me think about it.

 

Video: Are You an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the various strategies that we can use for habit-formation.

Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative.

My forthcoming book, Better Than Before, describes the multiple strategies we can exploit to change our habits. To pre-order, click here. (Pre-orders give a real boost to a book, so if you’re inclined to buy the book, pre-ordering now is a big help.)

In this video, I talk about the Strategy of the Four Tendencies. I have to say, of everything I write about in Better Than Before, I’m most proud of this section. It’s the most original, the most startling, the most helpful — and predictably, it was the most difficult to write.

 

If you want to find out your own Tenency, take this Quiz. More than 35,000 people have taken it!

It’s very important to know ourselves, but self-knowledge is challenging.  I’m like a Muggle Sorting Hat: I sort everyone into four categories, which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

In a nutshell:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (my husband is a Questioner)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

 

What’s your Tendency? Does knowing your Tendency give you some insight into how to change your habits more readily? From what I’ve observed, Obligers find this the most helpful, because when they realize that external accountability is the key for them, they can easily plug that in — and succeed.