Gretchen Rubin

Podcast 243: Treat Yourself Like a Dog, and How Obligers Can Resist Pressures to Indulge.

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Update: We’ve been having so much fun touring! Coming up, we have more shows: Providence and Philadelphia are sold out, but there are still tickets available for Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, and Brooklyn. Find more details and buy tickets at gretchenrubin.com/events.

Book Club: Our next choice is I.M. by Isaac Mizrahi. It's a brilliant, thought-provoking memoir. Start your reading! It's so, so good. We'll discuss the book in December.

Try This at Home: Treat yourself like a dog—courtesy of my daughter Eliza, who heard this from one of her college advisors.

Would you treat a dog the way you treat yourself? We want to make sure the answer is yes.

With a dog, we make sure our dog gets plenty of exercise, play, fresh water, healthy food—not just treats, fresh air and light, trips to the vet and the groomers, and plenty of sleep in a restful space.

We mention a similar Try-This-at-Home: "Treat yourself like a toddler," from episode 7.

Happiness Hack: Don’t tell someone to “Calm down.” This admonition usually has the opposite effect.

Four Tendencies Tip: Our listener Caroline asks how, as an Obliger, she can resist the social pressure that she's facing as she's trying to drink less.

I mention the Concern for Others Loophole—one of the most popular of the ten categories of loopholes.

With the Four Tendencies, if you don't know if you're an Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, or Rebel, take the quiz here. If you want to listen to the bonus episode about the Four Tendencies framework, it's here.

Listener Question: 

My husband and I are considering a cross-country move because our careers have stalled out where we live now, and we’d have much greater opportunities on the coast. A big roadblock that we keep running into is that we are not sure we want to move 1500 miles away from our families.

We currently live in the Midwest, and neither of us has lived away from family for more than 6 months at a time. Although our happiness in our work lives may increase, we are nervous that we will lose the close connections we have with loved ones right now. We have no children of our own, but two young nephews. My husband really worries that we will miss out on them growing up, but I think there must be some way to stay involved in family life, even if we move. (He’s an Obliger, I’m a Rebel)

So my question is this: How do you stay connected to your family even when they live far away? I know you two have often spoken of your “updates” email with family, but I’m wondering if you have any other practical tips? You two have the podcast helping connect you, but is there anything else you do to stay connected with each other and your parents? Maybe listeners would have ideas, too? Obviously, this is a big decision, but we can’t be the only ones struggling with this; people move all the time.

Relationships are a key to happiness, so the listener is very wise to think hard about this question. Some suggestions include:

I quote from Flannery O'Connor:

The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.

--Flannery O’Connor, letter to T. R. Spivey, August 19, 1959

We mention our father's Secret of Adulthood: When it comes to visits, frequency is more important than duration.

Gretchen's Demerit: I kept nagging Eleanor to go to bed at a more reasonable hour, but I wasn't specific enough, and I didn't help her plan her evening in a way that made it easier to go to sleep earlier.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the movie Downton Abbey. It gave her a needed break from life!


Resources:

  1. Want to get regular book recommendations from me in your inbox? Each month I write a blog post about what I read that month, and I also occasionally write lists of recommended books on a topic. To get these in your email inbox, visit gretchenrubin.com/#newsletter and after entering your email address, select “book recommendations” and any other newsletter topics you’re interested in.
  2. If you’re reading my book Happier at Home—all about how to be happier at home—with a group, download the free discussion guide at gretchenrubin.com/resources.

Quote From the Podcast

The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.
Flannery O'Connor

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