Podcast 245: Avoid the Trap of the False Choice, and How to Eat Healthfully When Facing Halloween Candy or Social Pressure.


Update: We’re having so much fun touring to do our live shows! Coming up, we have more shows: Providence and Philadelphia are sold out, but tickets are still available for Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, and Brooklyn. Click here for tickets and details.

Remember, start your reading for the Happier Podcast Book Club. Our current choice is the memoir I.M. by Isaac Mizrahi. It's so good! We'll discuss the book in December.

Try This at Home: Avoid a false choice.

False choices are tempting for a couple of reasons. First, instead of facing a bewildering array of options, we limit ourselves to a few simple possibilities. Also, the way we set up the options usually makes it obvious that one choice is the reasonable, laudable choice, and one is not.

But although false choices can be comforting, they can leave us feeling trapped, and they can blind us to other choices we might make.

Often there are many choices. Examples of false choices:

  • “I’d rather have a few true friends, instead of tons of shallow friends.”
    There aren’t just two options at the extreme. There are all kinds of friendship, along a wide spectrum of intimacy. You don’t have to choose between a “real” few and “superficial” many.
  • “I think it’s more important to worry about other people’s happiness, instead of thinking only about myself and my own happiness.”
    Why do you have to choose? You can think about your happiness and other people’s happiness. In fact, as summed up in the Second Splendid Truth, thinking about your own happiness will help you make others happy, too.
  • “I believe it’s more important to be authentic and honest than it is to be positive and enthusiastic.”
    Can you find a way to be authentically enthusiastic? In my experience, it’s often possible, though it can take a little work.

Happiness Hack: This hack comes from our mother: if you're visiting a museum and don't know much about the collection, take a look at the postcards for sale in the gift shop. These will always feature the highlights, so you can use them as your guide.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Two stumbling blocks! We're joined by Melissa Hartwig Urban, the host of the terrific podcast Do the Thing, author of many New York Times bestselling books, and founder of the Whole30 program that so many people have used to improve their relationships with food.

Melissa has a new book that just hit the shelves: The Whole30 Friends and Family. It’s all about how we can keep our health commitments to ourselves while still having fun at social events—which is often a tough situation for people who are trying to eat more healthfully.

Melissa talks about two stumbling blocks. First, how do we resist the temptations of Halloween candy? Second, how do we keep our commitments to eating healthfully when we’re with friends and family?

Gretchen's Demerit: I panicked too quickly when I thought I’d left my canvas bag behind in the airport.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth discovered that her carry-on bag has a kind of loop built into the side that allows her to thread it through the pull handle of her rolling suitcase. Who knew: this handy feature is called a “trolley sleeve.” 


  • 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. If you want to make sure you get these in your email inbox, click here and after you enter your email address, select “book recommendations” and any other newsletter topics you’re interested in.
  • If you’re reading Happier at Home with a group, download the free discussion guide at gretchenrubin.com/resources.

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