Gretchen Rubin — Experiments in Happiness and Creativity

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“I wish I could not wish.” – Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin (@gretchenrubin) is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before, The Happiness Project, and Happier at Home. She has an enormous readership, both in print and online, and her books have sold three million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages.

On her popular weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft; they’ve been called the “Click and Clack of podcasters.” Her podcast was named in iTunes’s lists of “Best Podcasts of 2015” and was named in the Academy of Podcasters “Best Podcasts of 2016.”

Fast Company named Gretchen Rubin to its list of Most Creative People in Business, and she’s a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100.

Enjoy!

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Gretchen Rubin — Experiments in Happiness and Creativity

Want to hear another podcast that will improve your mindset and life? — Listen to this episode with Jocko Willink. Jocko might be the scariest Navy SEAL alive, and in this episode, he shares his thoughts on how to stop laziness and procrastination, behaviors that lead to failure, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):


This episode is brought to you by Shure. Shure is the brand behind my favorite headphones — the SE846. Shure has been trusted by musicians and sound experts for years, and I use Shure equipment to help record each episode of the podcast. The SE846 earphones feature a groundbreaking low-pass filter that delivers extended high-end clarity and unparalleled low-end performance of a true subwoofer without sacrificing clarity or detail of mids or highs.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Gretchen Rubin:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Show Notes

  • “I wish I could not wish.” Agree or disagree? [05:47]
  • How did Gretchen begin her career in law, and what made her move on to writing? [08:16]
  • What inspired Gretchen’s first book? [11:05]
  • Did Gretchen quit being a lawyer before or after selling her first book? [14:04]
  • In hindsight, what key lessons were learned by the process of writing and selling that first book? [16:29]
  • How did Gretchen decide on her next book, and what ties together her body of work? [21:47]
  • What is Gretchen’s note-taking system? What software does she use for composing a book? [25:25]
  • Why does Gretchen recommend Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language? [31:03]
  • What are the key ingredients to Gretchen’s home office? [34:42]
  • What small changes does Gretchen recommend for people hoping to increase personal well-being and happiness? [40:29]
  • End of day rituals and routines. [44:00]
  • Morning routines. [45:30]
  • Changes Gretchen has made in the past few years that have increased happiness and decreased anxiety and other negative emotions. [48:30]
  • How are Gretchen’s children’s literature groups organized? [52:46]
  • What qualifies a book for the young adult genre? [56:47]
  • How does Gretchen use accountability? [1:00:49]
  • Does Gretchen set new year’s resolutions? [1:10:38]
  • Gretchen’s theme for the year is delegation. How does she plan to act on this? [1:14:07]
  • Does Gretchen have a favorite failure? [1:16:21]
  • One of Gretchen’s most worthwhile investments of time, money, or energy. [1:21:40]
  • How did Gretchen start learning the basics of podcasting? [1:22:12]
  • How has Gretchen gone about turning her podcast listeners into a community? [1:24:34]
  • What would Gretchen’s billboard say? [1:28:29]
  • Quotes Gretchen finds inspiring. [1:29:33]
  • What “try this at home” episode of Gretchen’s podcast has had the strongest response to date? [1:40:30]
  • How does Gretchen regain focus? [1:43:43]
  • Short children’s and young adult titles everyone should try. [1:46:28]
  • Adult books Gretchen has reread the most. [1:48:16]
  • How many hours a week does Gretchen spend reading? [1:49:41]
  • Per Gretchen’s Four Tendencies, what is my tendency? [1:53:21]
  • “Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.” -Novalis [1:59:53]

People Mentioned

Posted on: January 10, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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27 comments on “Gretchen Rubin — Experiments in Happiness and Creativity

  1. Disclaimer – Yet to listen to the complete episode.

    But it’s so cool to see you interview Gretchen too, Tim. Her book ‘Better Than Before’ and ‘The Four Tendencies’ while may not be backed by science, but the tendency quiz she came up with is legit.

    I use her framework to identify my friends, colleagues at work, and customers’ communication style and it’s surprising to see it being so effective.

    Curious if you’ve had a chance to take her Four Tendencies Quiz, Tim? From my research, you sound like a Questioner with Rebel tendencies. Tony Robbins, a Questioner with Upholder tendencies.

    Excited to add this to this week’s Things-To-Listen-While-Commuting List.[

    Hope your 2018 is off to a GREAT start, Tim.

    Cheers from the Bay Area.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Gretchen and Tim! Great podcast!

    FYI–Here is that Thomas Merton quote, in full:
    ————————————————————-
    “Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”

    Source: (Gretchen’s website): https://gretchenrubin.com/2009/03/thomas-mertons-ambition-to-be-what-i-already-am/

    Like

  3. Lively episode! Question to both Gretchen & Tim on note capture: I like Gretchen’s organization under topics/themes. Right now I have my notes attributed to person/podcast/book so I’m able to return to exact passages later, but this means I don’t have all my notes on say, Motivation, in one place. How to reconcile these two formats?

    Like

    • You could tag your notes. For example, Evernote lets you tag and thus find everything very easily. If you don’t use it yet, worth looking into. However, I’m sure there are other tools out there that let you tag, I’m just the most familiar with Evernote myself. Hope that helps!

      Like

      • Thanks Lisa! I organize my podcast notes by guest name. Often there are multiple themes in a single note, e.g. Hiring, mgmt lessons, etc. If I tag, the tag applies to the whole note, right?

        Gretchen replied: The way I do it – which is very inexact –would be to type the word “motivation” next to the quote, so that if I was looking for material on motivation, I could use search to find those passages through a master document. This system is pretty slow and cumbersome—however I find that zipping through my master document in that way actually helps me to see unexpected connections and insights.

        I wonder if this will serve my purpose if I’m clipping lots of articles?

        LMK if I’m missing an easier way? I’m not wired to think in systems!

        Like

  4. Hey Tim!

    I absolutely love your podcast but I have just one request. Is there a way we could somehow subscribe to an email that would automatically send us the show notes? I know I could go to your blog and look them up there but I don’t always have time (or should I say make time) for that so instead I take notes while listening (not smart since I’m usually driving).
    But just a suggestion!

    Thanks!

    Like

  5. Hi Tim,

    First, I would like to thank you for being instrumental in many people’s lives including mine. I NEED SOME HELP. I was hoping you can provide me suggestions or helpful tips for a shift-worker like myself. Currently a police officer and constantly going from overnights to days and sleep, diet and lifestyle has definitely suffered. A lot of your material has been helpful but seems very challenging for shift-workers like me.

    Thank you for your time and I hope to one day be able to meet you!

    Nate

    Like

    • I’ve just recently heard a great podcast by Rhonda Patrick. She interviewed Dr. Satchin Panda, on strategies for shift workers. Lots of useful tips and all scientifically verified. Check it out 😉

      Like

  6. Tim… I’m a big fan…. my two cents… do yourself a favor and talk to Jorma Kaukonen. Original member of the Jefferson Airplane and going 50+ years strong in Hot Tuna at 77 years old. He’s a mentor for many. You’d love him. Stories galore. Talk to Jorma!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy New Year Tim & Gretchen! Really enjoyed this episode. It’s always refreshing hearing the full story behind someones current success. As always – very inspiring – You’ve got me motivated for 2018 🙂

    Like

  8. Hi Tim,
    I am Aditya from a Bangalore based education startup, Walnut Knowledge Solutions.
    Our signature offering is QuizShala, a quizzing oriented developmental workshop for school students where we use questions, stories, and activities to make children more aware and 21st Century ready.
    You’ve been a great inspiration to all of us at the office and we have a weekly time set aside to discuss your podcasts and books.
    At an upcoming quiz event on 26th January, we wanted to ask a question on your books and some of your ventures. The question text is mentioned below and it would be great if you could verify the fact mentioned about your ventures. Looking forward for the go-ahead from you. Thanks.
    Question to be verified:
    “My original intention with The ____ ______ (4HWW), The ______ _______(4HB), and The _____ _______(4HC) was to create a trilogy themed after Ben Franklin’s famous quote: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.””
    Fill in the blanks or tell us who spoke the above words?
    He has also named few of his ventures after the books that he has gifted the most –
    1. Zorba Tree after Zorba the Greek
    2. Feynman Exploration after Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman
    3. Marcus and Seneca after Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Tao of Seneca

    Like

  9. Best takeaway:

    It’s better to have a community than a fan.

    And

    Thinking about how I log my notes – I need to find my best way of “tagging” my notes (I just write them in my Bujo currently), so I’m definitely looking into Scrivener to see if that would be a solution.

    Like

  10. Tim, I have watched with fascination your evolution to become a more spiritual person as evidenced by this podcast and today’s 5-Bullet Friday post. I am on the same journey, you have given so much that has helped me. Thank you for all you do.

    Like

  11. Hi Tim and Gretchen,

    Enjoyed this podcast especially because this was the first time I’ve been introduced to Gretchen’s work and it really seems like something we could all learn from. The idea of the four tendencies really seems like an easy and solid framework, which can help us get on a clearer path in our life.

    Need to give the Happier podcast a go sometimes, although I fear it might become addictive. As many many times, a great conversation which I’m grateful for. Looking forward to more content from both.

    //Felix

    Like

  12. This episode combines 2 of my favorite people. Gretchen and Tim. Love it! I also hope that you’re completed okay with me using your 5-Bullet Friday strategy with my online students. I look forward to this every week and thought my students would too. I did cite your website so hopefully you’ll get some traffic. Thank you for all of your wonderful ideas…both of you. I integrate both of your teachings, Gretchen and Tim, in my Economics and Business courses that I teach. Cheers! Amber

    Like

  13. Have you considered learning to type with the Dvorak keyboard layout? (Your note about keyboard shortcuts in 5 bullet made me think of this) I tried it because I was having wrist pain. I IMMEDIATELY felt a difference in my wrist, but it took me about 3 months to get back to my previous typing speed, but I kept going and now type much faster than I did before and with less strain. There are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to switch keyboard layouts quickly for tasks for which it’s easier to type visually. It’s also fun to watch the looks on friends’ faces when they try to use my computer and only get gibberish text.

    Like

  14. I love quotes and I love the quotes Gretchen shares in her blog.
    My all time favourite is a Rumi quote,
    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
    there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.
    When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

    Like

  15. Tim – you talked about taking a sabbatical. I started with “5 Days to Clarity” that a friend came up with, to amazing results as a fast from media / social media / communication. 100% worth it.

    [Moderator: link removed.]

    Best,
    Bart

    Like

  16. Loved your podcast with Gretchen Rubin especially toward the end when you two were interacting more. Would love a short occasional podcast with you two (better yet a book together but there’s that time issue)…You two have some really good chemistry on air. Thanks.

    Like

  17. If you are intrigued by Gretchen’s concept of focusing on one word check out Allie Edwards “One Little Word” and she would be a great guest.

    I really enjoyed your conversation with Gretchen, I learned so much from both of you.

    Great job!

    Like

  18. Tim this is an excellent interview. I have read all her books and even the one on Churchill was great. The four tendencies book helps us understand ourselves better. Mine is upholder easily meeting inner and outer expectations. I think as we are at the beginning of 2018 the main thing to remember is gratitude and enjoy life. We should all develop our own happiness project because only we can decide what will make us happy.

    Like

  19. Tim. THANKS for expanding my world with new ideas, new and old books, and amazing people. Loving the GOLDEN COMPASS that you and Gretchen spoke about. Wondering, what kind of music you listen to in the background while working on your books (if at all), Happy 2018!!

    Best,

    Rob Meislin, M.D.

    Like

  20. At the moment I am alternating between your podcast and Gretchen’s, so I was excited about this interview. I thought it came across a bit different to usual. It seemed as though you hadn’t really encountered each other before, either personally or through each others work. I liked it. It was like listening in on the conversation of two people who hadn’t realised that they had much in common but suddenly realised they did! I previously thought that the two podcasts were very different, but now I realise that many of the concepts are the same, just approached differently. I listen one to expand my mind intellectually and the other to expand it emotionally. It’s like yours is the journal version and Gretchen’s is the magazine version, if that makes sense. Which one I listen to depends on my mood and what I am doing.

    Like