Podcast 189: Make Life More Complicated, the Challenge of the (Non) Quiet Car, and a Question about Hotels.


Several listeners pointed out something we overlooked in our discussion in episode 185, about the husband who didn’t want to tackle the boxes from his father’s estate: disposing of the boxes might represent a last, painful farewell that’s difficult for this man to face. Excellent point. 

Try This at Home

Make life more complicated. If you want to hear Sarah and Elizabeth (a/k/a Liz) talk about the Flemish Giant Rabbit debate on the Happier in Hollywood podcast, listen to episode 58 here, or if you want to hear Sarah explain why she opted instead to buy two guinea pigs (!), listen to episode 59 here

Happiness Hack

To remember that your bread plate is on the left side of your plate and your water glass in on the right, make the “OK” sign with both hands—which forms a “b for bread” shape on the left and a “d for drink” shape on the right. 

Know Yourself Better

What do you do when you have some time alone in a hotel room—if you ever do? I watch HGTV. Elizabeth eats unhealthy snacks and watches Netflix. Elizabeth is falling into the ever-popular “this doesn’t count” loophole—one of the ten categories of loopholes. If you want to read about all ten categories, read here. I have to say, this was my favorite chapter to write in my book Better Than Before, a book all about habit change. We’re so ingenious and imaginative in coming up with loopholes for ourselves. 

Listener Question

“How can I stop being annoyed by the people who make noise in the train’s Quiet Car?” If you want to read my Twelve Personal Commandments, including “There is only love,” read them here.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I made many of the classic clutter mistakes while nurturing a giant pile of clutter in my daughter Eleanor’s room; after years of clutter, I only just got it under control. Despite the fact that I just finished my book Outer Order, Inner Calm! A cobbler’s children go unshod.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the Homecoming podcast. Elizabeth loves it so much that I started listening to it too, so I second this gold star. It’s terrific.


  1. If you’re looking for a gift for a mother in your life (or for yourself), The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal for Mothers makes a great gift for new mothers, or mothers entering a new stage in their parenting, like a child starting kindergarten or even college. It’s a fun, manageable way to keep track of little memories and moments.
  2. Follow me on Goodreads. I post what I read each week (not always with reviews, but if I finished a book, that means I liked it). And while you’re there, you could mark Outer Order, Inner Calm or any of my other books as “want to read.”
  3. My Four Tendencies video course is open for enrollment. Visit courses.gretchenrubin.com to register for the five-week course.  Don’t worry, you can take the course at your own pace, and you get lifetime access to the material.

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