Get weekly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

Podcast 319: Ask Yourself, “Do I Use It, Need It, Love It?” Using the Return to Work as a “Clean Slate” for Habits, and Rebels Give Advice about the Rebel Who Won’t Read Emails


Try This at Home: Ask yourself, “Do I use it, do I need it, do I love it?”

I mention the interesting book by Daniel McGinn, House Lust, in which he explains use of the term “maximum-use imperative” to describe the fact that people will often buy something to accommodate a use that they need only rarely.

To read more about happiness and possessions, check out my book Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life.

My book Outer Order, Inner Calm is specifically about order and clutter.

Here's the shirt Elizabeth gave me, which I wore while recording this episode.

Happiness Hack: Remember, April Fool's day is coming up! If you're so inclined, think of a prank. I often use food dye but this year am going to experiment with "Gelling Joke."

Other simple, fun April Fool's jokes I've done:

Four Tendencies Tip: In episode 316, we talked about a question from a listener who works with a Rebel teacher who refuses to read his work emails. This is a problem, because at their school, a lot of crucial information is communicated by email.

We got very thought-provoking responses. Interesting: almost all the people who responded were Rebels.

These include:

  • increasing the consequences
  • sending emails to the Rebel's personal emails
  • ask if he thinks staying up to date on school events is important, or how he'll inform his students on school events if he doesn't know
  • ask him for his own ideas on how he could stay informed about school activities, since it's so important to the students
  • one Rebel disputed the characterization of the teacher as a Rebel
  • consider whether those emails need to be written more effectively

Want to find out if you're a Rebel, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quick, free quiz here (more than 3.2 million people have taken it).

Listener Question: When going back to work after the safer-at-home period, how can we start with new, better habits?

We discuss the power of the Strategy of the Clean Slate. Be sure to start the way you want to continue.

For more on the Strategy of the Clean Slate, and the other twenty strategies for making or breaking habits, read my book Better Than Before, which is all about how to master habits.

Gretchen Demerit: I didn’t send birthday package to Eliza in time. I always thought I'd be the kind of parent who sent thoughtful packages—but I'm not.

We talk about under-buyers and over-buyers.

Elizabeth Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to Sarah Fain, her writing partner  and co-host of the Happier in Hollywood podcast, for sheer adventure! First, to be safer during the pandemic period, she headed to Minnesota for the winter, and now she’s moving to Ojai while they're shooting Fantasy Island.

What we're reading:


  • For free resources related to the Four Tendencies, click here, then scroll down to the section titled “Four Tendencies.” There’s a “flash evaluation” as well as guides for how the Tendencies work  in the different contexts of work, with sweethearts, with children, and in healthcare situations.
  • Every week, I send out an email with five things that are making me happier, plus links to new blog posts, lists, recommendations, quotations I'm pondering, and other updates. Join the free weekly newsletter here.
  • If you've recommended Happier with Gretchen Rubin to six people, we'd like to send you a sheet of gold stars as a thank-you gift. Honor system. We can offer this for U.S. and Canada only, alas, because of mailing costs. Once you've sent the link to six people, enter your mailing information here. For instructions on how to email or text the link from your device, click here.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

More Episodes For You

icon onward

One Last Thing

Want a new podcast to listen to?

With the same vibe as “Happier,” The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life, made better.”

Learn More

Get My Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.