Podcast 70: Very Special Episode–What’s the Best Advice You Ever Got?

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

This is episode 70, and every tenth episode is a Very Special Episode. This episode is all about advice! Our listeners sent in so much great advice that they’d received.

HenryRecordingLibraryUpdate: This is our last episode with our beloved producer Henry Molofsky, who’s taking a new, exciting job — news that’s both happy and sad. We’re excited for him, but we’ll miss him. We’re looking forward to working with Kristen Meinzer.

Try This at Home: On the advice theme — remember to ask for advice. People can really be helpful.

Advice: So much great advice! Our listeners passed along terrific advice about work, relationships, and life.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I keep forgetting to do my #GretchenRubinReads Facebook post on Sunday night. I love doing this, to show the books that I finished that week, but I often forget to do it.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth had a great time at Medieval Times.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #70

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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.

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Darn It! I Missed the Longest Day of the Year. Again.

I love koans, paradoxes, teaching stories...and short passages from novels that seem to have a meaning just outside my understanding. I love collecting these.

One of my favorites is from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. When  Nick meets Daisy for the first time, she tells him, “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.”

Ever since I first read The Great Gatsby in high school, I’ve been haunted by that line. And I always watch for the longest day of the year — and I usually miss it!

But this year, I was determined to remember and notice this day. Somehow, I got it in my head that June 21 is the longest day of the year in my part of the world. Well, today is June 21, but when I just went to go double-check, the New York Times informed me that sometimes, in these parts, June 20 is the longest day of the year.  And in 2016, it was June 20.

So I watched for the longest day of the year, and then missed it! Yet again.

Also, following the American folk superstition, I try to remember to say “Rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of every month, for luck. This would be easy, except that to get the luck, you have to say “Rabbit, rabbit” before you say any other words. And that’s tough.

I like practice likes this, because they help me notice time as it passes. I’m so absent-minded; I tend to walk around in a fog unless I do things that connect me to the seasons, the passage of time, the weather, what’s actually happening around me. Like noticing the longest day of the year!

BarnabyWalkingonLeashI will say that having a dog has helped me tune in to the natural world. I take Barnaby out for his first walk at about 6:00 a.m., and I very much notice the longer days of summer. In the winter, it was full-on dark when we went for our walk, and it has grown lighter and lighter, and this morning it was bright day. Because it’s the second-longest day of the year…yup.

Other quotations that haunt me:

From Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas: “I like a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it.”

When I was writing The Happiness Project, I was obsessed with a Spanish proverb quoted by Samuel Johnson in James Boswell’s Life of Johnson: “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.” 

And also this line from G. K. Chesterton:  “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

Now, maybe I’ll watch for shortest day of the year.  Which, I just learned, is December 21.

Do you wait for the longest day of the year? Or say “Rabbit, rabbit,” or any other practice like that?

A Little Happier: A Lucky Charm That Works Even If You Don’t Believe In It.

Back in episode 59 of our podcast, Elizabeth and I talked about the value of giving yourself a lucky charm.

Relying on lucky charms is superstitious, but in fact, it actually works. Researchers have found that people who believe they have luck on their side feel greater “self-efficacy”—the belief that we’re capable of doing what we set out to do—and this belief actually boosts mental and physical performance. Many elite athletes, for instance, are deeply superstitious, and in one study, people who were told that a golf ball “has turned out to be a lucky ball” did  better putting than people who weren’t told that.

Any discussion of superstition reminds me of this perhaps-apocryphal story, about physicist Niels Bohr. I love this story!

Most of us aren’t superstitious—but most of us are a littlestitious.

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Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

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!

Podcast 69: Give a Surprise Treat, a Conversation with Musician Moby, and Double Gold Stars.

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

Update: Keep sending us those “happiness hacks!” They’re fascinating. To hear about my happiness hack, it’s in episode 64.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Try This at Home: Give someone a surprise treat. This is fun!

Here’s the article about The Great Courses: Sarah Max’sBorn in the VCR Era, Great Courses Seeks to Evolve.”

Interview: The iconic musician and writer Moby. His fascinating new memoir is Porcelain.

Here’s the quote from E. B. White that I mention:

“Margaret Mitchell once remarked: ‘It is a full-time job to be the author of ‘Gone With the Wind.’ This remark greatly impressed me, as being an admission of defeat, American style. (Miss Mitchell, incidentally, was not overstating the matter—she never produced another book.)”  –E.B. White, Letters, May 7, 1961

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth has been making stir-fry vegetables for herself.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I moved my Scent Library to a more convenient spot in the apartment.

Gretchen Rubin scents

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Sign up for The Great Courses Plus today and you’ll get unlimited access to thousands of fascinating lectures taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: Get One Month Free 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.

1pix

1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #69

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!