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Podcast 190: Very Special Episode About the Body, with a Talk with Jake Knapp About Focus.


Very Special Episode: Happiness can feel like a very transcendent, abstract concern, but in the end, we experience the world through our bodies. Happiness is mental and emotional; today we focus on physical aspects that influence our happiness—through the body.

Try This at Home: Think about your body. Your physical experience always colors your emotional experience.

My fingerless gloves.

People are animals; people are more than animals. In this episode, we focus on the animal, physical part of our existence.

We discuss ways we can take steps to manage discomfort, take more pleasure, and boost our feelings of control of our bodies.

I mention my book Better Than Before—all about how to make or break habits.

I also mention the Strategy of Abstaining, one of the 21 strategies of habit change that I've identified. This is a strategy that works very well for people like me, "Abstainers," but doesn't work well for "Moderators." For me, when it comes to sweets, it's far easier and more pleasant to have none than to try to have a little bit.

Happiness Hack: To drown out distractions, listen to white noise.

I mention the app Relax Melodies.

Interview: We talk to Jake Knapp. Jake  spent ten years at Google and Google Ventures, where he created the “sprint design process”—the subject of his last book, a bestseller called Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. He’s run more than 150 sprints with lots of big companies.

Now, along with his co-writer John Zeratsky, he’s written a new book: Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day. It describes a simple four-step system for improving focus, finding greater joy in your work, and getting more out of every day.

If you're curious about the "Time Timer" that Jake discusses, you can see it here.

We talk about the Four Tendencies, and the fact that Jake is a Questioner. To take the short, free quiz to determine your Tendency, take it here.

Jake's (somewhat surprising) Try This at Home: Wear slippers.

Elizabeth's Demerit: The saga of the treadmill desk continues. Elizabeth ordered the slip-on shoes, they didn't fit, Sarah bought them from her, now she's ordered another pair.

Gretchen's Gold Star: I got the flu vaccine without procrastination. Unlike last year, when I never got one at all!

Button: If you want to see the carrot slippers I mention, voila!


  1. Last month, on Instagram, I gave away four signed copies of The Happiness Project—one for you and three friends. I’m doing it again, starting today. Follow me @gretchenrubin and comment to tag three friends to whom you’d give the extra copies. Follow me on Instagram, and you’ll see the post about it. I'll choose a winner on 10/19.
  2. The Four Tendencies course is now available for enrollment. If you want to learn to harness your Tendency, register now at If you’re an Obliger, you can find friend who wants to take it also, and set up accountability so you can check in with each other daily, or find someone else to hold you accountable. Or find accountability within the group.

I do a weekly live show on Facebook called: “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live.” To join the conversation, check the schedule.

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