Gretchen Rubin

Podcast 110: A Very Special Episode on a Major Happiness Stumbling Block–Are You Lonely?


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

Update: This is the month of #trypod, when we're all trying to help people discover new great podcasts. And our current producer Kristen Meinzer and our former producer Henry Molofsky are both involved in terrific podcasts.

In the new podcast By the BookKristen and her co-host comedian Jolenta Greenberg zealously follow the precepts of a particular self-help book, to see if the advice actually works. First up: The Secret. It's funny, thought-provoking...just terrificBy the Book is part of a pilot project run by Panoply, so you can vote for the podcast to get greenlit here.

Henry is the producer over at the blockbuster mega-hit Missing Richard Simmons. In 2014, the exercise guru and very public figure Richard Simmons vanished from view. In the six-part series, Dan Taberski tries to figure out what happened. Very suspenseful, and really makes you think about many different issues -- the podcast has generated a lot of analysis and discussion. My own view of what happened? Obliger-Rebellion! But listen for yourself.

Very Special Episode: Loneliness.

Loneliness is one of the biggest, most serious happiness stumbling blocks out there. One of the keys — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people. The lack of these bonds, even temporarily, is a major happiness stumbling block.

When we know what kind of loneliness we're feeling, it's easier to see possible ways to tackle it. For instance, have you experienced...

For instance, have you experienced...

  • New-situation loneliness
  • I’m-different loneliness
  • No-sweetheart loneliness
  • No-time-for-me loneliness
  • Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
  • Quiet-presence loneliness
  • No-animal loneliness
  • No-friend-group loneliness
  • I'm-alone-in-this-experience loneliness
  • Parent-of-young-children loneliness/Empty-nest loneliness
  • Everyone-else-is-having-fun loneliness


So what to do about loneliness?

  • Take steps to connect with others (obvious, but important)
  • Show up
  • Revive a dormant friendship. We talked about this in episode 79.
  • Nurture others.


I mention two books that I highly recommend: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily WhiteLonely, a memoir about the author’s own experiences and research into loneliness. Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

I also mention the immortal line from Russell Hoban's brilliant picture book A Bargain for Frances: "Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?" (If you'd like to read a New York Times piece I wrote about my love for Frances, it's here.)

Demerit: Elizabeth skipped a Moms' Night Out.

Gold Star: I give a gold star to Eliza and Eleanor for encouraging (nagging?) us as a family to get a dog. Our dog Barnaby makes us very happy.

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I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.




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