Agree, Disagree? Really Skillful People Never Appear Busy.

“Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy. Speed implies that things seem fast or slow, according to whether or not they are in rhythm. Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast….Of course, slowness is bad. Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy. ”

–Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings

Agree, disagree? In my observation, this is very true.

Daylight Saving Time! How to Survive the Loss of an Hour of Sleep.

There’s a very helpful Daylight Saving Time mnemonic: “spring forward, fall back.”

This Sunday, we “spring forward” and turn our clocks ahead one hour — which means losing an hour of sleep. And for many of us, each hour of sleep is precious.

So what can you do to offset that loss? My book Better Than Before has lots of ideas about forming habits — including habits related to sleep.

1. Use the Strategy of First Steps.

There’s a magic to starting, to taking that first step. Often, it helps to have some kind of external prompt, or a cultural milestone, to remind us to take a first step. Like a New Year’s resolution, a cue like Daylight Saving Time makes a good time to start a new sleep habit.  You could start new better sleep habits at any time, of course, but Daylight Saving Time is a good prompt. For instance…

2. Give yourself a bedtime.

Many adults don’t have an official bedtime; they just go to bed when they feel “tired.” But it’s so easy to keep ourselves jacked up on sugar, caffeine, office email, or binge-watching TV, so we don’t feel tired, even though we belong in bed. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep. Do the math and give yourself an official bedtime. That way, you know, “Well, it’s 11:00 p.m., I’m up thirty minutes past my bedtime.” It helps.

3. Consider setting an alarm to mark your bedtime.

You probably set an alarm to help you to wake up; so set an alarm to help you go to bed. Often, we just need a reminder that “Oh, yeah, it’s about time for me to turn off the light.” You might even want to set a true “snooze” alarm, a fifteen-minute alarm that reminds you that it’s almost bedtime. We often give children warnings that bedtime is approaching, but grown-ups also need transitions.

4. Consider getting ready for bed well before your bedtime.

This really helps me. I realized that often, I was so tired that I couldn’t face changing my clothes, brushing my teeth, washing my face, etc., so I just kept staying up. Not exactly a rational response. Now I try to get ready for bed well before I intend to get in bed. Huge bonus:  brushing my teeth really helps me to quit night-snacking. I’d heard this advice before, but it seemed too easy to be effective. To my astonishment, it works really well.

5. Sleep really matters.

Sleep affects mood, memory, immune function, self-control — lack of sleep even contributes to weight gain. In fact, sleep is so important that in Better Than Before, sleep is part of the Strategy of Foundation, along with exercise, eat and drink right, and unclutter. Good sleep is at the foundation of good habits.

How about you? Have you found some strategies to cope with the loss of that hour of sleep — and to help yourself get more sleep, generally?

Podcast 55: The Problem of Switching Bags, Do You Prefer Long or Short Discussions, and Scratch-n-Sniffs.

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

As we recorded this episode, Elizabeth was drinking coffee from her Happier with Gretchen Rubin mug! Inspired by Elizabeth’s longtime love of mugs, we decided to make a Happier mug. Want one yourself? Available here.

Try This at Home: Have a system for switching bags. We realized the importance of this try-this-at-home after Elizabeth experienced a near-disaster when we were together in San Francisco, the day of the live show. We suggest some tips — what are your tips? I’m sure there are many more great solutions.

Know Yourself Better: Do you prefer to discuss difficult subjects at length — or do you prefer to keep it short? Elizabeth and I are both long-discussers.

Listener Question: “I’m addicted to technology.”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth tells the story of the monkey and the banana — which reminded me of the “preciousss” in episode 17.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Scratch’n’sniffs! How I love scratch-n-sniffs. I mention my favorite scratch-n-sniff book,  The Sweet Smell of Christmas. In my book Happier at Home, I write a lot about the delight and power of scent. Elizabeth talks about one of her favorite scratch-n-sniff books, Professor Wormbog’s Gloomy Kerploppus.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - #55

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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 watch The Science of Mindfulness and hundreds of other courses for free as part of a 30-day trial, go to

And check out 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 to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

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!

Take a Look at These Signs. Can You Guess Which Tendency Is Targeted?

I continue to be obsessed with my Four Tendencies framework — lucky for me, given that I’m writing a book on the subject! (To hear when that book goes on sale, sign up here.)

One fun thing I’ve been doing? Searching for signs that are aimed at a particular Tendency, or that do a good job of appealing to all Four Tendencies.

Before I get to the signs, if you need a quick overview of the Four Tendencies:

In a nutshell, it distinguishes 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).

  • 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–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike


To take the online Quiz to determine your Tendency, go here.

Here are some signs that have definite special appeal to one particular Tendency. See if you can guess which Tendency — answers at the bottom.

1. Bathroom Etiquette sign

What do you think? Does this appeal most to Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?


2. Anti-smoking campaign video

How about this video of one of the Food and Drug Administration anti-smoking campaigns? Watch the video here.


3. Wet boots sign

This sign about wet boots would likely appeal to several Tendencies but to me, it seems mostly aimed at one. Which one?



“Bathroom Etiquette” is for Obligers, by Obligers! That line, “Keep the place nice for others, if not for yourself” — that’s Obliger.

The anti-smoking ad campaign is aimed squarely at Rebels. If you smoke, you’re controlled, you’re trapped, you’re someone else’s puppet, you’re pouring your money into someone else’s pocket. Terrific!

“Wet boots” seems aimed at Questioners. I suspect that the locker-room attendant had spent many a weary minute explaining to Questioner gym-goers why the boots should indeed stay on the floor.

I was inspired to look for these signs by a brilliant series that Dan Pink did on his blog, called Emotionally Intelligent Signage. He posts photos of…you guessed it, emotionally intelligent signs. It’s so much fun to look at these clever signs. He’s got a bunch listed here.

A few readers have sent me good examples of Tendency-focused signs, and I’d love more! Send them my way. I get the biggest kick out of them.

Stay tuned for a post of my favorite signs that target all the Tendencies in one message.

Have you seen signs that seem effectively designed to push the buttons of one Tendency?

“There Is in This World No Function More Important Than That of Being Charming.”

“There is in this world no function more important than that of being charming. The forest glade would be incomplete without the humming-bird. To shed joy around, to radiate happiness, to cast light upon dark days, to be the golden thread of our destiny, and the very spirit of grace and harmony, is not this to render a service?”

— Victor Hugo, Toilers of the Sea

A thoughtful reader sent me this quotation. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines, from G. K. Chesterton, which I quote several times in The Happiness Project“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

Though I must say, it seems to be slightly overstating the case to say that there’s no function more important than being charming. I think I can think of a couple of functions that are more important.

Agree, disagree?