Podcast 244: Go Out in the Early Morning Sunlight, Brush Your Teeth After Dinner, and What to Do with Old Business Suits.

Try This at Home

Go outside into the early morning sunlight. Increasingly, research is revealing the importance of sunlight to the health of our bodies and minds. I mention a fascinating book, Linda Geddes’s Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How It Shapes Our Bodies and Minds. It turns out that many conditions—such as insomnia, depression, and obesity—have been linked to a disrupted body clock, and regular exposure to daylight can strengthen daily rhythms. Sunlight also boosts the availability of serotonin, the substance that helps with mood regulation. Bright light also helps us to feel more alert and active. If possible, we should aim to get light in the early morning; that’s what’s most effective in getting our body clocks in order. In the United States, we spend about 87% of our time indoors, and another 6% in cars. On even the most overcast winter’s day, outside is at least ten times brighter than inside. We’re spending our time in the equivalent of twilight. 

Happiness Hack

To help curb night snacking, brush your teeth after dinner. Research suggests that Americans consume an astonishing 30% of their daily calories in the evening, after 8:00 p.m., and as the day wears on, we tend to choose increasingly unhealthy options. Brushing teeth serves to end the “eating zone” part of the evening. 

Happiness Stumbling Block

It’s draining to raise and press an unpleasant conversation. It takes energy and self-mastery to force ourselves to deal with something difficult; it’s often easier just to ignore or postpone unpleasant discussion.

Listener Question

A listener asked about how best to give away her old business suits. The challenge of giving away our possessions is a big theme throughout my book Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness. Elizabeth mentions the conversation I had with Oprah Winfrey before we recorded Super Soul Sunday. What a terrific adventure! 

Elizabeth’s Demerit

Elizabeth didn’t advocate for herself at the dentist.

Gretchen Gold Star

Elizabeth and I talk a lot about our sisterly relationship, and I realized how many of my favorite TV shows feature the relationships among brothers and sisters: Game of ThronesSuccessionTransparentDownton AbbeyModern FamilyFleabag,  Brady Bunch! Some shows include siblings within larger groups, such as Friends or Happy Endings. Here’s a moment I love from Game of Thrones. On that show (slight spoiler) a big issue at one point is whether the Stark brothers and sisters will stand together or not.


  1. If you want to connect with other Happier podcast listeners or readers who enjoy my books, join my free app, Better. You can also create or join an online accountability group. You can join the community on any computer at betterapp.US or search your app store for “Better Gretchen Rubin.” It’s free!
  2. Because I love kidlit so much, I’m often asked about my favorite recommendations for children’s literature or young-adult literature—so I made a list of my 81 favorites. You can download the PDF here.




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