Podcast 49: Live from San Francisco! Travel without Tears, the Challenge of Public Speaking, and Special Guests.

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

Our live show! Boy, Elizabeth and I had a great time. Hear us live, at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. It was such a treat for us to get to record an episode in front of actual live listeners.

Usually, we do a Very Special Episode for every tenth episode. This is episode 49, but hey, close enough.

I mention one of my favorite episodes, episode 10, when we cleaned Elizabeth’s closet. Want to hear it? Listen here. Here’s a photo where you can see our special outfits.GretchenandElizabethPodcastLiveEventAfter (We’re standing in the amazing Walgreens in Union Square that Elizabeth mentions during the podcast.)

Try This at Home: Travel without tears. We talked about TSA pre-check in episode 11. I mention Nick’s Sticks. Yum.

Interview: Nir Eyal. Nir has founded and sold two technology companies, and he writes for a bunch of different places, teaches at places like Stanford, and consults to startups, venture capital firms, and incubators about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He has a great blog, Nir and Far, and he wrote Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. And he talks about being a Rebel. Fascinating. (Note: Henry had a little fun choosing Nir’s theme music.)

Nir’s Try This at Home: Burn or burn. A very Rebel Try This at Home.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Public speaking.

If you want to watch my interview with Matt Lauer (which I can’t bear to watch myself), you can see the whole thing here.

I mention Kelly McGonigal’s fascinating book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get at It.

Interview: Jake Knapp. Jake is a designer and facilitator here in SF. While working at Google, he created a “design sprint” — a five-day process to help teams answer big questions in just five days — used in the development of everything from Gmail to Chrome. Now Jake’s a design partner at Google Ventures, where he’s run more than 100 sprints with GV portfolio companies. He’s written Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days to explain how to do a sprint.

Jake’s Try This at Home: “Turn off the internet.”

Elizabeth mentions one of our very favorite podcasts, Start Up. If you want to listen to the episode where Jake and his team do a sprint with Gimlet, it’s #13, “Fake It Til You Make It.”

New Year’s Resolutions Booster for Two Audience Members:

Erin: Her New Year’s resolutions are to slow down, focus on family, and not sweat the small stuff.

Lauren: Her New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with her friends.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth used the loophole “I’m out of town!” to indulge in some bad eating habits.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to my husband’s liver doctor, Dr. Leona Kim-Schluger. Such a brilliant, caring doctor. If you want to give yourself a gold star, and if you support organ donation, sign the organ-donor registry here or use the hashtag #organdonor on social media.

Thanks to the audience, for being so terrific. We had so much fun. If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter or share the image below on Pinterest. 

1pixHappier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin #49

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors:

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid post-office pain, 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 no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out Boll and Branch. They offer luxurious bedding at outstanding prices. Go to BollandBranch.com and enter promo code HAPPIER to get 20% off your first entire order.

And check out Audible.com. Audible has more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio-products. Go to Audible.com/happier to get a free 30-day trial. Audible was also our live event sponsor, so special thanks, Audible!

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 “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!

HAPPIER listening!

Why Doing a Live Show for Our Podcast Made Elizabeth and Me Happier

Last week, my sister Elizabeth and I did something that felt very new and bold — we recorded an episode of our podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, live in front of a whole theater full of people.

And I was reminded of the importance of an atmosphere of growth.

As I discuss in The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I’ve identified Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness. (I was enchanted by all the numbered lists in Buddhism, so wanted to do my own numbered list.)

My First Splendid Truth is: To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

It makes us happier to feel that we’re growing — that we’re learning, that we’re helping, that we’re making something grow, or fixing something that’s not working, or teaching someone, or improving ourselves.

For instance, my father was a great tennis player and played a lot when I was growing up. At some point, he started playing golf, and over time, gave up tennis. I asked him why. “My tennis game,” he explained, “was gradually getting worse, but my golf game is gradually improving.”

For Elizabeth and me, doing this live event was a major episode of growth. We’d never done anything like it before; the theater was sold out (yay!), so the stakes were high; we had a lot to remember and say and do.

We were both very anxious leading up to it, and that’s the uncomfortable thing about the atmosphere of growth: growth often means feeling anxious, frustrated, embarrassed or incompetent. There are often false starts, failures, and mistakes.

But then comes the atmosphere of growth, and it’s so satisfying.

One thing that made it easier? We had a terrific audience — quick to laugh and friendly, one that was on our side.

And Elizabeth and I had so much fun! We’d love to do it again! As we told ourselves backstage, “Tonight is the only time that we’ll be doing a live recording for the first time.”

Putting up with discomfort is sometimes part of the price for the atmosphere of growth.

How about you? Have you ever pushed yourself to do something that made you anxious — then felt great, afterwards?

 

Curious about the other seven Splendid Truths? Here they are:

Second Splendid Truth
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

Third Splendid Truth
The days are long, but the years are short. (Click here to see my one-minute movie; of everything I’ve written about happiness, I think this video resonates most with people.)

Fourth Splendid Truth
You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
[Many argue the opposite case. John Stuart Mill, for example, wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” I disagree.]

Fifth Splendid Truth
I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.

Sixth Splendid Truth
The only person I can change is myself.

Seventh Splendid Truth
Happy people make people happy, but
I can’t make someone be happy, and
No one else can make me happy.

Eighth Splendid Truth
Now is now.

Do You Ever Get a Huge Pleasure Just From Looking at a Particular Object? What?

“The rack stood as if it had been there forever across the landscape and lit by the sun with its long shadow behind it, and in harmony with every fold of the field and finally turned into a mere form, a primordial form, even if that was not the word I used then, and it gave me huge pleasure just to look at it. I can still feel the same thing today when I see a hayrack in a photograph from a book, but all that is a thing of the past now…so the feeling of pleasure slips into the feeling that time has passed, that it is very long ago, and the sudden feeling of being old.”

Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

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!

 

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid post-office pain, 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 no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out The Great Courses Plus for a wide variety of fascinating courses taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: free access to one of their most popular courses! To get The Everyday Gourmet for free, go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier Limited time.

 

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.)

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Listen to this episode at Happiercast.com/48

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!

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

One major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider:

1. Make a habit of nurturing others.

Offer to take care of the neighbor’s children once a week; teach a class, volunteer, get a dog. Giving support to others helps create a feeling of connection. For happiness generally, it’s just as important to give support as to get support. Along those lines…

2. Make a habit of connecting with other people (to state the obvious).

Show up at the weekly office coffee hour, join a book group, sign up for an exercise session, take a minute each morning to chat to a co-worker.

3. Make a habit of getting better sleep.

One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue. (Here are some tips on getting good sleep.)

4. Make a habit of staying open.

Unfortunately–and this may seem counter-intuitive--loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental.  Lonely people, it turns out, are far less accepting of potential new friends than people who aren’t lonely.If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

5. Making a habit of asking yourself, “What’s missing in my life?”

If you’re feeling lonely, is it because you miss having a best friend, or you miss being part of a group, or you miss having a place to go where everyone is familiar, or you miss having a romantic partner, or you miss having the quiet presence of someone else hanging around the house with you? There are many kinds of loneliness. It may be painful to think about, but once you understand what you’re missing, it’s easier to see how to address it. Through habits or otherwise.

If you find it tough to stick to a habit like “attending the weekly office coffee hour,” my book Better Than Before can help (I hope). There, I explain all the strategies we can use to make or break a habit. It’s not that hard to master a habit, when you know what to do.

For instance, you might use the Strategy of Scheduling, the Strategy of Monitoring, the Strategy of Convenience — and you should definitely use the Strategy of Treats — which is the most fun strategy.

If you want to read more about the subject of loneliness, I highly recommend two books: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily White, Lonely (a memoir). Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good habits for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?