Last month when I asked who you wanted us to interview for our habits series, 90% of you said Gretchen Rubin. Today your wish comes true. For those not familiar with Gretchen, she is one of today’s most influential and thought-provoking observers of happiness and human nature, especially as it pertains to habits. Gretchen is the author of Better than Before, The 4 Tendencies and The Happiness Project and in this episode she shares the secret to creating health promoting habits that will work for you. Listen to this episode with Gretchen Rubin to learn how to help yourself based on your personality type and tendencies.
What we cover:
- Gretchens #1 tip to being happier.
- Why it’s important to know your nature before you try to adopt habits.
- How to figure out your personality type.
- What are outer vs inner expectations?
- How do you know when you need an accountability buddy?
- How monitoring your current habits can help you create change.
- 3 strategies to create change.
- How to start making healthier habits.
Resource mentioned in this episode:
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Wendy Lopez: You started off writing about happiness, but then you moved into talking about habits, which is so specific. Tell us about what made you decide about habits.
Cuz it, it is such a specific topic and as dieticians, it's so relevant to us, so it's something that we're really interested.
Gretchen Rubin: Well, you know, when I started talking to people about happiness, and especially after the Happiness Project came out, what I realized is that a lot of times people knew perfectly well that something would make them happier.
Like if they got more sleep or they ate more healthfully or they spent more time with friends, or they spent more time outside, or they got back into tennis or whatever. But they weren't doing it for whatever reason, even though they knew that it would make them happier. And when I started really trying to understand it, I realized it was actually a problem of habit formation.
That for some reason people knew that something. Would make them happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative. But they were not approaching it as a, as a habit challenge. So that got me very interested in, you know, how people successfully make or break habits or, or why they don't. And, and that got me really, really deep into the world of, you know, how and why can we change our habit?
Jessica Jones: we were talking before we started recording about just how, as a dietician I have incorporated your work into my private practice. Um, because understanding how somebody, uh, adopts habits can be really helpful in figuring out why certain methods haven't work for them or what may work for them. So can you talk about that?
Like, why is it so important to know your nature before you're able to adopt new habit?
Gretchen Rubin: Well, this is the, this is the thing is you really have to know yourself and what works for you. And I think a lot of times, and, and I was definitely one of these people myself, where we think, well, there's the right way or the best way, or like the one, the most researched way.
And if, if somebody just told you the right thing to do, then you could change your habits. But. That doesn't work or we would all have perfect habits. And I think, and, and I think a lot of times people get discouraged if they've tried and failed to, to form a habit, and they might try over and over and they say, well, this works for my sister-in-law.
It works for my best friend, or it works for my sweetheart. It should work for me. Instead of saying like, well, Just because something works for somebody else doesn't necessarily make mean it'll work for me and vice versa. Just because something works for me doesn't mean that I know how to tell everybody else what to um, and you really have to think about yourself.
When have I succeeded in the past? What kind of things helped me change my behavior? Um, because there is, there's no magic one size fits all solution. Um, you know, you can't just like download a one pager from the internet and follow the instructions because we're all so different. I mean, you see this with morning people and night people, you know, you often see the advice like, oh, something's important to you.
Get up and do it first thing in the morning. Which is great advice for rewarding people, but like 30% of people are like really night people and they're at their most productive and creative and energetic later in the day. And so it's not that it's not good advice for some people, but it's not good advice for everyone because for some people they'd be bench better off trying to do something challenging, uh, when, when it fits more into their energy.
Wendy Lopez: Right. Or their personality, which is someone that, which is something that I wanted you to touch on because, um, sometimes like someone's personality type can also affect how they go about creating habits and like just maintaining habits as well. Yes. And you write about like the upholder, the questionnaire.
Yeah, the rebel, the up obliger. So I have a question about just like, you know, how that all plays into habits, but also is it possible to have like a little bit of each habit kind, like, I feel like with personality types, I'm like, oh, well maybe I'm a little bit of the questionnaire and a little bit of the upholder.
Um, is that possible or do you really, do most people like resonate mostly with like one personality?
Gretchen Rubin: Well, here's the thing. Really, people are very s like they're very strongly within one type. If you feel strongly that you are a little bit of each one, that's a sign that you're a questioner. Because questioners are like, well, if it makes sense, I'll act like an upholder , but if it doesn't make sense, I'll act like a rebel.
And I'm like, you're saying you'll do what? Whatever makes sense. You're like, well, why would I do. That's questioner. So really believing that you're a little bit of each is itself a signal of questioner. Um, but I can go through all four and should I go through all four and explain this? Yeah, that would be helpful.
Yeah. Okay, so this can sound a little dry, but it gets very juicy. So like, listeners stay with us. . Um, this is a framework called the Four Tendencies. Um, and as Wendy was saying, it divides people into Upholders, questioners, obligers and rebels. And what it's looking at is something very specific, um, but very significant, which is how you respond to expectations.
So there are outer expectations like a work deadline, and then there are inner expectations. Um, I wanna keep a New Year's resolution. So depending on whether you meet or resist outer and inner expectations, that's what makes you an upholder, aquest, or an obliger or rebel. So upholders are people who readily meet outer and inner expectations.
They keep the work deadline, they keep the New Year's resolution without much fuss. They wanna know what other people expect from them, but their expectations for themselves are just as important. So their motto is, discipline is my freedom. Then there are questioners, questioners question all expectations.
They'll do something if they think it makes sense. They need reasons. Justifications, they tend to love research, they tend to love to customize. These are the people who are asking why, why, why, why, why? Um, and uh, so they're making everything an inner expectation. If it meets their inner standard, they will do it, no problem.
If it fails their inner standard, they'll push back. So their motto is All comply. If you convince me why, then there are obligers. This is the biggest tendency for both men and women. Obligers readily meet outer expectations, but they struggle to meet inner expectations. So these are the people who say, why is it that I can keep my promises to other people, but I can't keep my promises to myself?
Or they say, why do I struggle to make time to self-care? Or, I need to make myself a priority? These are the sign of obliger. So the secret for obliger is, is very straightforward. Even to meet an inner expectation, they need outer accountability. If you wanna read more, join a book group. If you wanna exercise more.
Take a class with an instructor. Who knows If you don't show up, work out with a friend, who'll be annoyed if you don't show up. Take your dog for a run. Raise money for a charity. Think of your duty to your future self. There are a lot of ways to create adder accountability when you know that's what you need.
So obligers really go the extra mile for other people, but they have to have that outer accountability if they're gonna meet their inner expectations. So their motto is, you can count on me, and I'm counting on you to count on. And then finally, rebels. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
They wanna do what they wanna do in their own way, in their own time. They, they tend to love a challenge, but if you ask or tell them to do something, they're very likely to resist. And typically they don't tell themselves what to do. So their motto is, you can't make me and neither can I. Yeah. So obliger is the biggest tendency. Rebel is the smallest tendency. Um, but I do think that almost ju just about all of us do fall within one tendency.
Jessica Jones: I was gonna ask about the obliger and questioner scenario because I felt like I was half and half, but now that I'm hearing from you, if you're questioning it, you're a questioner. That makes sense cuz I do question everything. And if it is something that I believe in, and for me it's all about the research.
Yeah. And, and what works for me too and what makes sense. I will do it, but, um, if it, if I don't buy in, I'm not gonna do it. Or if you're not convincing me, and really I have to convince myself by doing the research on my own. Yes. Um, but okay, so when we talk about these four tendencies, You write in your book, you're the upholder.
My husband's an upholder. Um, I have a lot of patients who are rebels, like I think upholder. People think upholder is good, right? And rebel is bad. But you say that it's like each one has pros and cons. Can you talk about why there's no hierarchy with. In these four
Gretchen Rubin: tendencies. Yeah. And I should say, if you, most people know what they are just from like, the way we'll talk about it, they'll, they'll figure it out.
But if you wanna take a quiz and like get an answer and a little report, you can just go to my website, go to gretchen ruben.com/quiz and you can take a quiz and get a report that will have all this. But, um, okay. So, um, wait, what was your, I'm sorry, I just blanked out on your question. Yeah, so my
Jessica Jones: question was, can you talk about how there's no hierarchy in all of these?
Gretchen Rubin: Yeah. All of these tendencies have a lot of strengths, but also sort of the corresponding weaknesses. And so when you look at the people who are happiest, healthiest, most productive and most creative, it's not the people of a particular tendency. It's the people who really figured themselves out and they've figured out how to get what they need, how to create circumstances that work for them.
Okay, so you're a questioner. Married to an upholder. I'm an upholder, married to a questioner, and it's really valuable for me to have a questioner cuz I sometimes too readily. Do things and it's very helpful for me to turn to him and. Do you think I should do this? And he'll say, why would you do that? And so I found a way to get that questioning element into my life in a way that's really helpful.
Um, a lot of Obligers figure have figured out, even, even just sort of unconsciously that they need accountability. So they'll sign up for classes or they'll give themselves a tough boss, or they'll, they'll create situations where they have the accountability that they need and then they can achieve their aim.
Everybody can achieve their aims, but you might have to like set up your circumstances and your situation so that you have what you need because like an obliger needs accountability. But of course a Revel might resist that accountability. So the, so a structure that could work really well for an obliger could actually not be good for a Revel.
They can both do what they wanna do, but they would have to set things up differently to suit their tend. Yeah.
Wendy Lopez: Can you give a couple examples for each personality type of like, just practical things that someone could do, for example, if they are an upholder, to be able to, um, create habits and actually stick with them.
Gretchen Rubin: Yeah. So first Upholders, that's the easiest to talk about because this is the kind of thing that comes easily to p pollers, maybe even too easily to upholds, because upholders sometimes have, what's tight is tightening when the rules get tighter and tighter and tighter and, and they can get kind of cramped.
And they have to remember like, if these rules aren't serving me, I can use my inner expectation to put it, put it aside. Um, so they're pretty good. Like what they need is very clear expectations, both outer and inner. So like, what am I asking of? What exactly does that look like? I want it to be very concrete.
It can't be something like eat more healthfully. That's pretty vague. Really break it down so that I can execute on that. And upholders tend to like things, like to-do list calendars. They like those kind of execution tools. Question. It's all about the why. Why are we saying that this is a good idea to do?
What is the reason? What is the rationale? But beyond that, like how is it customized to you? So you can't say something like, You should get up and go for a walk every day before breakfast, cuz it's, you know, a mile for before breakfast, cuz it'd be. Why before breakfast? Why a mile? Why am I walking? Maybe I should be skipping.
Maybe I should be running. Maybe I should be running backwards. Maybe I should be swimming. You know, why? Why, why, why, why? So really, once they have that, why they resist anything arbitrary. So if you throw out a number, okay. Why five, why not seven, why not three? Um, you have to really be able to back up all of that.
That's true. Right? And, and then they're, and then like, if you're dealing with clients or customers, a lot of times they just, they need a lot more reasons. Um, and that can make, also make you defensive. Sometimes people feel almost attacked by people who are asking a lot of questions, cuz it makes them feel like they're not, they're questioning their judgment or undermining their authority, but questioners are just trying to understand.
Once they have that understanding, they will get on it. Questioners sometimes can fall into analysis paralysis. This is when their desire for perfect information makes it hard for them to move forward or make a decision. So you can sometimes remind them, Hey, You know, don't get it perfect. Get it started.
If you start, you can experiment. If something doesn't work out, you've learned, uh, you know, it's more efficient to get started than to wait for perfection. You can do all these things to help get over that analysis paralysis. For an obliger, it's very simple. They need outer accountability, like they just, and, and it's not priority.
It's not self-care. It's not getting clear on what you want. It's not putting yourself first. It's about creating auto accountability. and there are so many ways to create outer accountability once you realize that that is what you need. And, and Obligers are very different. Like some obligers can use what I would consider very imaginative forms of accountability, like thinking about their duty to their future self.
Um, but some need like actual accountability from a real person. Some if they pay like, oh, I'm paying this nutritionist to meet with me every week. I have to do it some, it's almost. . Well, listen, I paid for that hour and she gets paid even if I don't show up. So if I don't show up, she gets the money and she gets the time back.
That's better for her. It's like, oh, no, no. I want you showing up. You know? So you need to create that outta accountability and they're so imaginative. I, it's hilarious what Obligers come up with. So ingenious. Yeah. And then with a rebel. Revel is, I would say the trickiest, um, they're the most different from the other three.
And what, what works with revels typically is identity. So it's not, you're not doing what you're supposed to do or what you said you would do or what other people expect from you, or what your doctor says, or any of that. It's like, this is your identity.
You're a person who loves to tap into her body and feel energetic and healthy. You're a person who loves to experiment with like interesting new recipes and ingredients. Um, you love to exercise because you love to feel strong and vital. , and maybe you've fallen away from that, um, but now you're gonna get back into it.
You've always been an athlete, you've always been a nature lover, you've always been a dog lover. Um, you respect your body. So it's, it's like tying into an identity because once the identity is, is, is really articulated, rebels will put that identity into the world, or you can give them information, consequences, choice.
This is when you give them the information they need, tell them the consequences of their action or inact action, and then you let them decide. You can be like, Look, I mean, we know from research what, you know, pre-diabetes looks like. You know, it's this, this, and this. And what we found is people who develop diabetes well, they need, they, they're dependent on medication and you know, this, this, and this.
Up to you, you know, no nudging, no reminding, no e, e often not even encouraging. It's just like this is the information, these are the consequences of what you can choose to. And then it's up to you. And, um, what's, what's hard for others than rebels to remember is that sometimes when we try to remind and encourage, we actually get in the way of the rebels because we ignite their spirit of resistance.
And so often with the rebel, you're better off just like backing away and like letting things them do things in their own way, in their own time. And the more you try to get in there, um, the more you may impede. Yeah,
Jessica Jones: it reminds me of when I used to work in a clinic and a lot. Patients would be referred to me.
And it's not that they wanted to necessarily see the dietician on their own. It's like the doctor saying, oh, you need to do this. Yes. That's where I would get the rebels in my private practice. It's mostly Obligers. Mm-hmm. , I would say because the accountability of working with someone. Um, but with the rebels, I think from a dietician perspective, they're great for motivational interviewing.
Right. One of the concepts of motivational interviewing is like rolling with resistance and kind of as you mentioned, talking about the pros of doing something and the cons of not doing anything and putting the ball in their court and helping them Yes. Come up with the why for themselves and not being so pushy, which I think a lot of healthcare providers we are, we feel like we're helping by being really pushy and telling people what to do, but knowing people's personalities and that that's not gonna work for certain people.
Um, it can. Empower them to make that move if they choose to at whatever point. So that's super helpful.
Gretchen Rubin: No, a hundred percent. And so with the questioner, you wanna give them the why, why, why? All the information, all the data, all the research. Whereas the other tendencies are kind of overwhelmed by that.
They don't need that. , the obligers, like they really benefit from that accountability. And, but then the rebels, uh, and one thing rebels will say to me sometimes, because I'll be like, well, sometimes like you actually hire somebody to help you do something, but then they tell you what to do. Like, I'm hiring you to help me refinance my mortgage.
But now you keep asking me for all these forms. And what the rebels say is sometimes it can help to be like, to remind a rebel. I'm here for you. I'm doing what you want. You know, and so you remind them like, I'm basically under your control. You are telling me what you want because that's what they want.
This is my choice. This is my freedom. This is an expression of my desires. And the more you're like, and like you say, the why, it's like, and and reminding them of like, well, why would you want this? What are the consequences? It's like, I'm here to help you to get whatever you want. You tell me. And then there kind of have that feeling of being in the driver's seat, which is so important for the Revel.
Yeah. Because if you say to them something like, well, this is what the doctor says, they're gonna be like, well, no one tells me what to do. You know? Mm-hmm. , I don't follow doctor's orders, , you know, because Yep. Just the phrase doctor's orders, right. . Yeah. It can be a turn off. Yeah. It really can be a turn off.
So in your book,
Jessica Jones: um, better than before, you also talked about strategies Yeah. To help, uh, make or break habits. Right. And, uh, we're doing this habit series and, um, you've done a lot of research on these topics. So let's say somebody wants to feel better physically and improve their health, and they wanna create the habit of exercise, aside from the four tendencies.
Any other strategies that are some of your favorite, like, I don't know, one or two to try to get started?
Gretchen Rubin: Yeah, there are some str, some strategies are very particular and only work for some people or only work sometimes. And then some work a lot of the time. So one of my favorite strategies, and it works really well for exercise, is pairing.
So the strategy of pairing is when you take two activities, one is something that you wanna get yourself to do, like exercise, and you pair it with something that you either really enjoy doing or that you basically have to do.
So if there's a podcast that you really love, like this podcast or a really exciting audiobook, um, or you know, just some or something that you have to do, um, like somebody was telling me that, Got herself to floss because she's like, well, you can't brush your teeth until you floss. And she's like, well, I would never start my day without brushing my teeth.
So now she has to floss. So that's the strategy of pairing. Mm-hmm. . Um, and then another strategy, uh, that you can use kind of in either direction. Um, these are the twin strategies of convenience and convenience. So to kind of a hilarious degree, we're more likely to do things if they're more convenient.
Um, and then the, the strategy of inconvenience is like, well make something inconvenient. So those are two, um, two that really work very universally.
Jessica Jones: Yeah, I love the inconvenience. Um, even with something as simple as trying to be on my phone, Les. Um, yeah, so the inconvenient thing is like deleting Instagram. Permanently. And then also, uh, downloading, downloading an app where it like blocks me from even re downloading Instagram, um, . Cause it's like even deleting.
It's not enough. And then, yeah, even simple things like not sleeping with your phone in the, in the room with you, like putting it in another room. It just makes it so when you wake up, it's not like the, a huge distraction as it normally would be if it's like right there. And I'm like, okay, like what's happening online.
So I think that that. The convenience and inconvenience is really helpful.
Gretchen Rubin: Here's another one, uh, on that with the phone is you can turn your, your phone to gray scale. Like here, let me get my phone. I'll show you what it looks like. Oh, oh, no, I, it would take me a minute to turn it on, but, um, if you turn your, it's very easy.
You just do it in settings and it, then your phone is in black, white, and gray instead of color. And what, it's just much less convenient. It's like much harder for your eye to figure out like where the links are. And of course, photographs are not as interesting. The whole thing just a much less compelling, and yet you can still do everything you need to do.
Like if you need to check your email or you need to use a map or so. You can. Um, but it's just harder on your eyes cuz you don't have color to give you all of that, all those cues. And also to make it, you know, so enticing. So you're right, there's a lot of ways to use inconvenience to just, um, direct us away from, uh, behaviors that we're trying to avoid.
Do you permanently
Jessica Jones: have it on gray scale? That was
Gretchen Rubin: my question. No, you know, I'm not, that, I'm not that enticed by my phone. Okay. I don't find that to be a big temptation myself, so, um, I don't, but, um, it also works great if you have kids who always wanna be on a device. Mm. Um, you can just say to them, oh, I'm sorry it's broken.
We'll have to, you know, we have to get that fixed one day because they're, it's like, it's not that much fun to watch cartoons if it's in black and white. Yeah. I'm gonna do that permanently. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. there you. Alright,
Wendy Lopez: so with habits, like we talk a lot about smart goals, when you know, just creating goals that are practical, achievable, how specific do people need to be with habits?
Is it helpful to be like just super to the tee about what it is that you're gonna be doing and how you're gonna do it? Or does it depend on the personality type?
Gretchen Rubin: I'm with you. I think you wanna keep it very specific and very concrete and very manageable because it's very easy to have these vague resolutions like, I wanna, uh, get more fun out of life, or I wanna save more, or I want to eat healthier.
But it's like, I think, I always think with a habit, you wanna, you wanna articulate it in a way where it's, If you get in bed at night, it's like, did you do this? Yes or no? Um, like I have the Happier app. I created this app that has all these habit change tools in it, and one of them is don't break the chain.
That's the most, to my surprise, that's kind of the most popular thing. It's like, do you know? Did you, and maybe it's a habit that you don't intend to do every day, not every habit. It's something that you wanna do every day. But it's like, did you do this today? Because that's another strategy, strategy of monitoring where you just. Whether and how much you're doing something. And what the, what's really interesting is research shows that even if you monitor some, a behavior, even without trying to change it, so like, let's say you're trying, you monitor how much you spend or you monitor, how much time you spend reading to your children or whatever it is.
By monitoring it, just the act of monitor monitoring it, you will tend to do a better job. You'll do it more or less whatever you're aiming for, just because you're aware of it. And so monitoring is one of these things where if you feel like, oh, I can't even deal with trying to change anything, just monitor how much you're doing it, and that might help you just move in the right direction.
And so, but the only way you can monitor something is if it is very concrete. Oh, and another thing I think is important is to focus on, uh, action, not outcomes. What are the actions that I would take that I think are gonna lead me to that aim? If I'm like, I'm gonna write a thousand words every day, I can, that is an action that I can follow. Um, and then, but then outcomes are often, um, they're just harder to control. Yeah. Sometimes they're totally not within our control and sometimes that we just don't have a good sense of what's.
What's real, what, what our actions are leading to. Um, but actions are very much within, um, uh, what we can consciously direct. Yeah.
Jessica Jones: How did you come up with all of this? I know I've read, uh, your, well, you have several books, but, um, , but better than Before, and I, from what I remember, you talk about there. Like that.
There weren't that many books on forming habits. So can you talk about like how you came up with the, these different tendencies and Yeah.
Gretchen Rubin: And these. Yeah, so I wrote The Happiness Project and then everybody kept saying to me like, well, how did you get yourself to do all these things? And I thought, well, I just decided to do them.
And I thought they would make me happier. And if they did, I just kept up with them. And people were like, wait, what are you talking about? And then I was like, okay, something is coming easily to me that's not coming easily to other people. And around the same time, my mother was saying that she wanted to give back the habit of exercising.
And I was like, okay, well how do you form a habit? And I realized like there's a lot of research kind of about habit formation. and there were a lot of people who sort of advocated like very like specific things, like this is the answer. But it was very obvious to me on reflection that like, well, this can't be, this can't be a universal solution because.
It's so obvious that it doesn't work for everyone. And as I started to talk to people more and more, um, I began to realize like how much variety there was, um, in how people successfully did it. And then I also started noticing, well, like for a really, like with an important and challenging habits, something like exercise.
There's kind of a lot of pieces to it. People might be doing a lot of different things to try to really put, solidify that habit. And I just, it was very, I was all like tangled up in my head and I was doing all, I was reading all this research and like I just couldn't figure out how it all mapped together.
And then finally I'm like, okay, I have to come up with my own system. And that's what led me to identifying the 21 strategies. Cuz once I got all those 21. I was like, everything that I heard, like any other thing I heard fit into one of those categories. And the four tendencies came about because I saw these really striking patterns in how people respond even to the idea of habits.
And I was trying to figure out like some people just. Like if I said, uh, how do you feel about New Year's resolutions? That was a question that I would often ask to get people talking about how they felt about habits. Certain group of people would be like, well, I would never keep a New Year's resolution cuz January 1st is an arbitrary date.
I'll do it whenever it makes sense. And I was like, huh. They they always use that word arbitrary. And I was like, that's so interesting cuz the arbitrariness of it never bothered me particularly. But for some people that is, Absolute deal breaker. Then I, and that's what started me thinking like, oh, there are questioners.
And then I, I told somebody at a cocktail party that I was writing about, about habits, and she literally stepped back. She was so horrified by this subject. I'm like, Ooh, I love the subject of habits, . I think it's really juicy. And she's like, why would you write about such a horrible subject? And then turns out, she's one of my original rebels, and she told me so many things in that conversation.
That really gave me my first insight into the way the rebel perspective just sees things so differently from me as an upholder. Um, so that's really how I started to, um, to like dig into this, this subject of habits, which can be very confusing because there's so many parts to it that if you don't have like the big picture, they can feel very dis uh, disjointed.
Jessica Jones: Or it's, it's very much like this work for me, therefore will work for you. Yeah. Is a lot of the advice. And it's like, actually
Gretchen Rubin: everyone's different. . Wait, and can I say somebody who writes about it? I now know that a lot of people who write books like I do, we're all upholders. Mm-hmm. And we think, oh well if you just do what I do, it'll work for you.
And it's like, yeah, anything works for an upholder cuz that's the kind of p per people they are. Yeah. Um, but I'm like, but very few people are upholders. We gotta think about the questioners and their obligers and the raffles. What works for them. Cuz they got their own tools and their own strategies.
They're working really well for. Yeah, in
Wendy Lopez: wrapping, can you talk to us about, like for someone who's like, okay, I wanna start creating better habits while also taking into account like my personality type, what's one thing someone could get started thinking about or doing to get
Gretchen Rubin: this going? Okay, great question.
Because it can feel very overwhelming. So where do you start? So a really great question to ask yourself is when have I succeeded in the. Because a lot of times, if you think about when you, when you succeeded in the past, it has clues. So like I was talking to somebody who was like, I hate cooking. I can't eat healthy food.
I have to eat out all the time cuz I hate to cook. And I said, well, was there any time when you like ate healthy meals at home as an adult? And she's like, well there was this time when I le, I lived in this group house in DC right after college. And I was like, okay, tell, let's talk about. What she realized, and you might say, how does a person not know this about herself?
But she really, truly had not understood this about herself. She didn't mind cooking. She hated food shopping. Hmm. And when she lived in that group house, she had one of, you know, there are these people, my husband's one of them, they love to shop for food, they love. My husband once went to the grocery store three times in one day.
They love to shop for food. Sounds like me. Yeah. And so she had this roommate who would like bring home like all this like fresh, wonderful food. And then she enjoy and she didn't mind cooking at all. She didn't love cooking, but she didn't mind cooking and she realized that was for her, the sticking point.
Well, that's a very different problem to solve, especially now. There's so many ways to get like food. Um, and uh, and so looking at a time when you succeeded or like a lot of obligers, it's like, well, is there a time in the past where you successfully exercised? It's like, oh yeah, my best friend and I signed up for this class and it was kind of expensive, but we never missed a class.
And it's like, right, because you have accountability. If you're going with a friend who's gonna be annoyed if you don't show up and you're paying for a class or you're losing the money and your instructor's expecting you to show up. There's some classes where like you're taking a slot and if you don't show up, somebody else missed a chance to go.
So, okay. So that's a sign that you need to create that for yourself in the future. So looking to the past can be really helpful. Another thing I would say is, Think about your body because that's the strategy of foundation. And if you are exhausted, um, if you are overwhelmed, it's just very hard to work on your habits.
So you wanna think about getting enough sleep. Getting some exercise cuz ex we think of exercise as tiring us out. But really it gives us energy, uh, and it also helps us sleep. So if you have trouble sleeping, it'll help you, uh, sleep better. Um, and it's just so good for memory and mood and immune function.
And then finally, this isn't true for everyone, but it's true for a lot of people is clearing clutter For a lot of people, outer order contributes to inner calm and a sense of energy and a lot, like a friend of mine said, I finally cleaned out my fridge and now I know I can switch careers. Um, there's something like if you have like a clean.
Uncluttered environment. A lot of people feel like that helps them with self-regulation and it's kind of irrational. But over and over people have told me that they feel that connection, and I definitely feel that myself. So if you think about. Sleep, exercise, eating and drinking enough and, and, and healthfully and then clearing clutter.
Some people are just clutter blind. My sister's like this. She doesn't see it. She doesn't care, doesn't matter to her. Okay, fine. Don't worry about it unless somebody in your house pretests. But for a lot of people, outer order really does give them that sense of energy and focus that helps them stick to a good habit.
Jessica Jones: By the way, is your sister, um, a re.
Gretchen Rubin: My sister's an obliger.
Jessica Jones: She's an oblig. Okay. Cuz you guys do your podcast together, right? Yes, I've heard her. Okay. And you guys are like Yes. Talking back and forth about, uh, yeah. Like forming different habits. Yes. Um, well, can you let our listeners know, uh, where they can find out more about you and all the work that you're doing?
Gretchen Rubin: Yes, absolutely. So if you go to my website, gretchen ruben.com, you can find everything there. There's the quiz. We talked about the four tendencies quiz, which is free, and like three and a half million people have taken that quiz. Um, we talked about a few of my books like, uh, better Than Before, which is about habit formation, the Happiness Project, which is all about happiness.
Uh, outer order, inner calm, which is like quick tips for how to create outer order, which is just like a fun little book. And then there's a whole book about the four tendencies. If somebody wants to go really deep into the four tendencies. Um, there's my podcast. Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Um, I've got a newsletter.
You can sign up a free newsletter that comes out once a week with five things making me happy. You can sign up on my website or you can follow me on social, all the usual places as Gretchen Rubin. And I love to hear from people with questions and comments and observations and suggestions. Um, and my next book is called Life in Five Senses, um, and that's coming out April 18th.
And it's all about how we can tap into our five senses to be happier, healthier, more productive. Ooh, more creative. So that's love that. Super fun. Yeah. Cool. Well
Jessica Jones: thank you so much. It's very full circle to have read your books and then have you on the podcast and yeah, especially for the new year, it's perfect timing, so I really appreciate you g, taking the
Gretchen Rubin: time.
Oh, I so enjoyed it. Thanks so much for having me. Thanks, Gretchen.
Wendy Lopez: Yay. Thanks so
Gretchen Rubin: much. That was so fun. Oh,
Jessica Jones: yes. Yay. Yeah, same. That was, yeah, I can't wait for the next book. Oh, yeah, that sounds real. Like, you mean like five senses, like literal senses, like touch, taste? Ooh,
Gretchen Rubin: yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, this is perfect timing then.
Yeah, it was super fun. Super fun.
Jessica Jones: Excellent. Amazing. Well, thank you so much, Gretchen. Have a great rest of your day. Bye, Gretchen. You too. Bye-Bye. Bye.