How to Optimize Your Happiness with Gretchen Rubin

Show Notes

The Oprah SuperSoul 100 Leader, 3x New York Times Bestselling Author and the woman that Fast Company has called “one of the most creative people in America” shares her story about transitioning from a top lawyer to a full-time author. Gretchen also explains her writing process, how to optimize your happiness and what she eats for breakfast every day.

Bio – Podcast with sister Elizabeth

Alright Thrive Nation and welcome back to the Thrivetime Show on your radio and podcast download. I can honestly say that I am the most excited I’ve ever been thus far to interview a guest.

Today’s guest is the New York Times bestselling author of The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project.

Having sold over three million copies of her books she has developed a massive following and is now also the host of the top-ranked and award-winning weekly podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” where she discusses how to create a happier life and how to implement good habits with her sister, Elizabeth Craft.

Fast Company named Gretchen as one of America’s most creative people in business and she is a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. She’s been interviewed by Oprah and she is one of the few authors to ever have two books on The New York Times Best-Seller List at the same time, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. She’s walked arm-in-arm with the Dalai Lama she’s even been the answer on the game show Jeopardy! And as a result of several recent poor life choices, she is now on the Thrivetime Show, Gretchen Rubin, how are you?

To learn more about Gretchen and her books go to

  1. Gretchen, before you became a best-selling author you were a lawyer, when did you decide to become a lawyer and why?
    1. I went to law school because I was good at research and writing. I thought it would be good preparation and keep my options open. Everything was going great. I was actually clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when I realized I wanted to be a writer.
  2. Gretchen you graduated with an undergraduate and law degree from Yale, you were the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and you actually clerked on the United States Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from 1995 to 1996, what made you decide that you wanted to leave the law profession and to pursue a career as a writer?
    1. I was lucky. A lot of times people know what they don’t like but they never know what they want. I asked myself what I was interested in that everyone else in the world is interested. I started thinking about power, money,fame, sex, etc and started doing tons of research on the topics. Then I realized this would be the I would write a book. That felt right and i knew at that moment what I wanted to do.
  3. Gretchen, I’ve heard you say that you would rather fail as an author than to succeed as an attorney, why were you so passionate about becoming an author?
    1. That is correct, I decided I need to give it a shot and if I fail, I fail.
  4. I love that you obsessively research the subjects that you write about, Gretchen, how do you decide what subjects you obsessively research and write about?
  5. What made you want to write your first book, Power, Money, Fame, Sex: A User’s Guide?
    1. I had this idea and it just hit me., I was at a party that Walter isaacson was at. I told him about my idea about Power, Money, Fame, Sex and he stopped me and said you can only have 3 like “red, white and blue” etc. i wanted to understand where he was coming from but I didn’t know which one to leave out. I like things in weird formats.
  6. Gretchen, as we’ve interviewed numerous best-selling authors, I’ve heard consistently that finding an agent is the hardest part of traditional publishing. Why is it so difficult to find a quality literary agent and how did you go about finding your agent, Christy Fletcher?
    1. This is a big surprise for many people. I think the most challenging part in today’s environment is finding a good agent. They really shepherd you through the process and teach you what to do when marketing and selling a book. If you want to traditionally publish a book you literally have to have an agent otherwise the publishers will not even look at your idea.
    2. They can be hard to reach. It can be find who would be a good fit. One trick is to look in the “Acknowledgements” section of books that are similar to yours.
    3. I had a connection from college and Christy and I were actually getting started around the same time so we both sort of grew up together. And I was lucky because we are such a good fit.
  7. Can you explain your theme as it relates to the books that you write?
  8. Gretchen you’ve written books as a result of doing super intense and exhaustive research on President John F. Kennedy, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, happiness and whatever subject you’ve decide to research and write about. When you are researching a subject, what is your process for taking notes?
    1. When I think about all of my books what I am really interested in is human nature. Both of these characters are just larger than live. Also, with these subjects there is such a wealth of information out there for me to research on. They are complicated figures and I love to study them.
  9. What did you eat for breakfast today?
    1. Scrambled eggs and I am sure you knew that!
  10. Gretchen, when writing a book, what percentage of your day is spent taking notes?
  11. Gretchen, why you decided to start researching and writing books about habits and happiness?
  12. Gretchen, great writers are typically also voracious readers. Can you share with us why you enjoyed reading one of your favorite books, “Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander?
    1. It is a very unconventional book looking at patterns in built in environments that people find appealing. There are patterns that make people feel good in a certain environment. Some places feel more comfortable in certain places than others. Places with different ceiling heights for example sem to make people feel more comfortable and appealing.
  13. Gretchen, my understanding is that your office in a building located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that used to be a water tower and that the former tenants of your apartment building turned this water tower into a nice storage room with windows, an air-conditioner and heat is that correct and what is it like officing out of a former water tower?
    1. My office is a former water tower. It is teeny and located at the top of the building that I live in. Before I moved in the person before us had removed the water tower on the building and turned it into a storage unit. When we move in, it already had 3 windows and a heater, so I installed an air conditioning unit and it turned into a great place for me to work.  
  14. Gretchen, I know that you spend most of your workday working out of your home office, how do you stay focused and set hard boundaries for yourself when working out of your home office?
  15. Can you share with us about why your workstation has 3 monitors and other life hacks that you have implemented into your home office to make yourself more efficient?
    1. FACT – Inside Happiness Guru Gretchen Rubin’s Office | Better | NBC News –
    2. Randy Pausch – Frederick PauschOctober 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    3. I have an IT guy who I have worked with for years and a while back he suggested that I get a second monitor. I was against it until I read an article for information workers, which I am, and I called him up and asked him to get it put in and within one day I could tell a huge difference in my productivity.
  16. Gretchen because you have invested so many hours and years studying how to design and create a happier lifestyle, I would love if you would share with our listeners a few of the practical action steps that you have taken during the past 10 years to optimize your happiness?
  17. Gretchen in your book, The Happiness Project you write, “The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.” Can you share with us what you mean by this?
  18. Gretchen you wisely wrote in The Happiness Project, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” Can you share with us about why you decide to pretty much give up sugar, carbs and all fruit on a daily basis?
  19. Gretchen, I listened to your interview with Oprah Winfrey on her SuperSoul Conversation Podcast, where you were talking about how important it was for you to seriously sit down and ask yourself specifically, what would a happy life look like? Why was this such an important step for you to take?
  20. Gretchen you once wrote, “Happiness is about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.” Can you share with us what you mean by this?
  21. Gretchen in the past you’ve written to be happier, you need to write your own set of personal commandments, I’d like to have you break-down your 12 Commandments:
  1. Be Gretchen (Substitute, your own name)
  2. Let it go.
  3. Act the way I want to feel.
  4. Do it now.
    1. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Without delay is the best way” – Gretchen Rubin
  5. Be polite and be fair.
  6. Enjoy the process.
  7. Spend out.
  8. Identify the problem.
  9. Lighten up.
  10. Do what ought to be done.
  11. No calculation.
  12. There is only love.
  1. Gretchen, I’ve heard you say that you would prefer for everyday to be the same, what do you mean by this?
    1. I love routine. I love habit. It makes me feel energized. I do not have to make decisions. It makes me feel free.
  2. Gretchen, now that you invested so much time and energy into becoming an expert in the field of designing a happy existence, what are a few of the things that still cause you anxiety or stress, and how do you deal with it?
  3. I’d like to get your take on the importance of accountability and why the people who struggle with personal accountability tend to get frustrated with themselves?
  4. Gretchen, I’d love to have you share about your newest book, “The Four Tendencies,” where the book came from and what “The Four Tendencies” are?
  5. Gretchen in your newest book,The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better you break up all people into four groups:
    1. The Upholders –
      1. Meets outer expectations
      2. Meets inner expectations
    2. The Rebel
      1. Resists outer expectations
      2. Meets inner expectations
    3. The Obliger
      1. Meets outer expectations
      2. Does not meet inner expectations
    4. The Questioner
      1. Resists outer expectations
      2. Meets inner expectations
  6. Gretchen, you are such a wealth of knowledge, for our listeners out there that are very action orientated, what is the one action step that you would encourage all of our listeners to take today?

Gretchen Rubin’s Books Include:

  • Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. ISBN 978-0-345-45047-0
  • Forty Ways to Look at JFK. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005. ISBN 978-0345450494
  • Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide. Atria, 2005. ISBN 978-0671041298
  • Profane Waste. Gregory R. Miller & Company, 2006. ISBN 978-0974364834
  • The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. New York, NY: Harper, 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-158325-4
  • Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life. New York, NY: Harper, 2012. ISBN 978-0307886781
  • Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. New York, NY: Crown, 2015. ISBN 978-0385348614
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too). New York, NY: Crown, 2017.

To learn more about Gretchen and her books go to

Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Welcome back to the conversation. It is the thrive time show on your radio and on today’s show. This show might be short if our next guest is not. Pick up the phone. Her name is Gretchen Rubin. She’s in New York Times best selling author. She is one of Oprah’s favorite people. Oprah has interviewed her and chuck. It’s always. It always gets a little bit nerve wracking, especially the bigger aim is like the bigger the guests. Should we call her? I think we should. Okay. Let’s go. I’m going to. I’m going to do it. Here we go. Okay.


Usually if somebody wants to pick up the call.


Gretchen, how are you? This is clay.

Hey Clay. How are Ya?

Well, I, I, you are an answer to prayer. I have read your stuff. I love what you do. I love your maniacal obsession and the research and so I am super excited. I’ve been praying to have you on the show, so hopefully there was some divine intervention that made that happen.

Excellent. I’m so happy to have the chance to talk to you, so this is great.

All right. Thrive nation. Welcome back to the thrive time show on your radio and podcast download, and I can honestly say that on today’s show, I am the most excited that I’ve ever been thus far to interview a guest. Today’s guest is the New York Times best selling author of the four tendencies better than before and the happiness project, having sold over 3 million copies of her books. She has to build a massive following and is now the host of the top ranked and award winning weekly Podcast, happier with Gretchen Rubin, where she discusses how to create a happier life and how to implement good habits with her sister Elizabeth Craft, fast company named Gretchen Rubin as one of America’s most creative people in business, and she is a member of Oprah’s super soul. 100 super soul. She’s been interviewed by Oprah and she’s one of the few authors to ever have chip two books on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time. Can you say happier at home and the happiness project? She’s walked arm in arm with the Dalai Lama and she’s even been the answer on the game show jeopardy and as a result of several recent poor life choices, she is now on the thrive time show. Gretchen Rubin. How are Ya?

I’m so happy to be talking to you. Thank you.

Well, Hey, I want to, I, for the listeners out there that aren’t as familiar with your books as I am, I want to start at the beginning before you were a best selling author, when you were a lawyer, when did you decide to become a lawyer and why would you want to do that to yourself?

You know, I went to law school for the same reason a lot of people go, which is I was good at research and writing and I thought I didn’t know what else to do with myself and I thought, well, it’s a great education and I’ll keep my options open. I can change my mind later. It’s good preparation for a lot of different avenues and so I hadn’t really thought much about whether I wanted to be a lawyer and in fact, if you want to be a lawyer, going to law school is a great way to become a lawyer. I know many people who wanted to be lawyers and that’s a great thing to do, but it’s not a great thing to do if you’re just don’t know what else to do with yourself, but I had a great time in law school. I had a great experience and I was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’connor when I realized that I actually wanted to be a writer.

I want to. I want to just, what you just said is so profound. I coach businesses all over the world. I’ve worked with ups and Hewlett Packard in big companies. It will happen a lot of times, Gretchen is you’ll meet the CEO of something or the executive of something or the vp of something and they hate their career, but they don’t have the courage yet or the motivation yet or whatever that is. They don’t have that yet. To actually quit and do something else and you actually had a law degree from not just any school but from Yale. I mean you were working with Ge Justice. Sandra Day O’connor from 95 to 96. I mean when he could say you were a rising star, you already were a star. Where did that courage to quit the the, the career you didn’t love it and move on to something else. Come from

me know I was really lucky because I think you’re right. A lot of times people know what they don’t like but they don’t know what they want and I was really lucky because I’m, I’m kind of a person who I’m very, very interested in things and we’ll do a ton of research and that’s happened to me my whole life. But while I was clerking I became obsessed with this idea. I was walking during my lunch hour one day and I was looking up at the Capitol Dome and I thought, what am I interested in that everybody else in the world is interested in? And I thought, well, power money, fame, sex. And it was like power money. Fame, sex, it was like became this thing that I just kind of this idea that I started to research and research and research in my free time and eventually it occurred to me this is what a person would do if they were going to write a book about it, maybe I should write a book.

And so at that point I felt this tremendous poll, you know, it’s like when the death star has the Millennium Falcon in the tractor beam and it’s going to go, you know, I felt the pull towards me and so I think that made it a lot easier for me because it wasn’t, it wasn’t like I was so dissatisfied with what I had was that all of a sudden there was something I really, really, really wanted to do. And so that felt very affirmative and like. So then it was a question of like, well how do I do that? That was a huge challenge, but I knew what it was that I wanted and I think, I think that makes it in a way than people who just know I want something else. I don’t know what that looks like yet.

You were hearing in your, in your mind, the empire, the empire, the do you kind of Darth vader theme song, that bomb and so you’re feeling the tracks will be pulling you in here and I heard you actually say now you can retract the statement if you want, but I heard you on one of your podcasts, which you’ve done hundreds and hundreds. I heard you say that you actually got to a place where you would rather fail as an author and to succeed as an attorney. Is that, is that correct? Or Am I misquoting you? Yeah,

no, I just decided like I need to give it a shot and if I fail I fail, but I need to try.

And so you know, you made the jump, but a lot of people say, well, what’s the linear path to become an author? You know, what is the step? Step one, step two. So you, I heard that you, you basically have to renew your license. I got coach a lot of attorneys work with a lot of lawyers and you have to keep your license, your certifications current and I guess you had uh, something coming up, but you decided not to renew it or not to pay the fee or something. And that was your jumping point. Can you tell the listeners about that?

Well, another, another thing that made it easier for me is that my husband was also going through being transitioned and he had decided to leave law and go into finance. So we were both, we both were in legal jobs and we moved from Washington DC to New York and as part of that move we were going to get new jobs. He was going to get a job. I was going to try to get an agent and get a book contract. And so we were starting in New York and these new paths and the day came exactly as you say when we got a letter from the New York Bar, one of us did. I forget which one saying you owe us bar fees.

Do you have

to be in good standing? It’s expensive. This is not like 25 bucks, this is like you’re really paying. And I said to my husband, gosh, should we pair Barfield? And he’s like, no yellow and that was the moment when we were like, you know what, we are really, we’re moving on now. I found out later that if you like make up your bar fees and do continuing legal education, you can probably get back in. Um, so it wasn’t as abrupt and definitive as it seemed at the moment, but as a moment it felt like, okay, we’re doing this, you know, um, but it was helpful to have somebody else with me, you know, like I was doing it. Um, and we’re just like, we’re going to start over, we’re going to give this. Something else is shot.

How long have you two lovebirds been married by the way, you and your husband? How many, how many years at this point?

Twenty four.

Twenty four. I appreciate you guys stopping making out to, to go ahead and do this interview by the way. I guess I can just do the romance. I could feel the love there. So I want to ask you this though, so you guys, I mean you guys have been partners, I’ve heard you talk about this, that he’s very supportive of you. You’re very supportive of him. It’s a neat store. I’ve been married 17 years to the same incredible lady. You’ve got us beat though. Twenty four years. You guys have been together as you guys were jumping into this new career together, I’ve heard you say other people say the hardest part of becoming a, an author as a career is finding a literary agent that believes in you and your work and I’ve heard you brag about, I believe her name is Christy Fletcher. Can you talk to me about the. Talk to us about the struggles of finding a literary agent that actually believes in you and somebody with the kind of character and caliber of Christy Fletcher.

Well, exactly right, and I think this is a big surprise for many people who would like to be published authors is that really, I think the most challenging part perhaps at least in today’s environment, is getting an agent on. Because once you have an agent, your agent shepherd you through the process. Your agent has a lot of information, a lot of contacts, they have a lot of views, they have a lot of experience. They can really be your cheerleader and your guide so you have that, you have that help. And to get an agent you have to show that you have work that your agent thinks that he or she can successfully represent. So you also just by that stage have something that is in good shape, but it’s very hard to get a literary agent and what a lot of people don’t understand. It’s like you really don’t have the option if you want to be traditionally published.

And that’s what I’m talking about, like by a publishing house, you can’t just send it to the publisher, you don’t have that option. They will not look at something that just comes in from a person. Um, it has to come through an agent. So it’s a necessary step. Is that the thing where you’re like, well, I don’t care about having an agent, I’ll just negotiate my own contract. It’s like, no, they won’t even look at it now. This is if you’re, if you want to be traditionally published nowadays, lots of people self publish and that’s becoming more and more possible and there you really are doing it yourself and that’s one of the advantages is you can just, when you’re ready, you know, it’s Sunday at midnight, like you can start that process if you want, but having an agent is difficult because you have to get the attention of an agent first and they have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people sending them stuff and you also have to show them that you can write a book that they think that will appeal to a lot of people, um, and, and that they can sell successfully.

And so it is a very, it’s weird. It’s a weird thing. Like there’s no, they’re very hard to reach. They’re deliberately hard to reach because otherwise everybody would be hounding them all the time. They can be kind of hard to reach. It can be kind of hard to figure out, well, who’s the right agent for someone like me? I’m one of the weird things you can do is you can literally look in the acknowledgements pages of books that you feel like if you’re writing a book and it’s in a spirit of another book, you can look because people will usually think their agents and you can say like, oh, well I see that this agent is coming up over and over in books that I think my book is sort of similar to maybe that would be a good person to approach if you have contacts on this is why a lot of people go to things like writer’s conferences because they held that they’re going to make our connections with agents.

I had a connection through college. I had like a very distant, um, connection. Um, but it worked out and Christie and I were both very much starting out at the same time. So we really grew up together and I feel incredibly fortunate because we’re so well matched in terms of our interest and our tastes and our appetite for innovation. And she’s really pushed me very hard and been very supportive of me doing things. Some very traditional literary agents are like, if you’re not writing a book, you’re wasting your time and they wouldn’t have wanted me to have a blog when I started my blog 10 years ago, or they might not have understood why I would want to have a podcast where kristy, like she has, she has a such an appetite for that kind of thing. She loves experimentation. She loves to see risk and failure. Um, she loves data. Um, so she’s really pushed me instead of like cautioning me to try new things, which has been great because I’m still a very traditional writer. I feel like that’s my primary identity is like I go to a library in my neighborhood and right for you on my laptop for three hours. That’s my favorite thing to do and that’s the most important thing to me. But I do a lot of other things as well. Now,

Jack London, the famous bestselling author, this guy decorated his office with all the rejection letter letters, seals as wallpaper. Do you remember how many rejection letters you received before you reconnected with your friend from college? Or did you connect on the first try?

It wasn’t the first try. I don’t remember. There weren’t that many. Fortunately I was a pretty good.

Well, you’re a unicorn.

The person said something that was really interesting to me. I never forgot it because I thought it was really at that. It was the stupidest observation I’d ever heard. But now in retrospect I understand what she was saying. She said, uh, this is from my book, power money, fame, sex, that user’s guide, which was the book that I went out to get an agent and she said there are too many ideas on a page. And I was like, how can there be too many ideas? Everybody should have as many ideas as they want. Like I was patting myself on the back for having so many ideas,

but now I understand that

she meant is that I have a very dense style and I have to really. It’s too much. It’s not a reader. It’s not, doesn’t want to go through at that level. And I’ve had to learn how to loosen up my style, open up my style, not to throw in like every quotation that I’ve ever read in my whole life that I love. Like I really, so in, in the, in, in retrospect, I realized that she was very wise, I was just too ignorant to understand what she was getting at a bit. Fortunately, Christie thought she could work with something that had too many ideas on the page, so it all worked out. Um, so that was a very memorable, um, rejection that I got, um, that there were others which have blocked out,

you know, you could kind of track, you know, with your podcast and my podcast, we can kind of track how many people download our podcast. And as we’ve moved into the top, you know, five consistently on the business section, there’s a lady, have you ever met, he fought Jindal with foundry media, if you’re a met her, I don’t believe so. Her car company, foundry media represented like Elon Musk’s book and there’s a lot of books in the top 10, you know, I’m sure. I know foundry media. The thing is

I get rejected by, he thought about every six months to be my agent and so recently I actually made cars. I chose. I made this morning, I made all of our employees Gretchen, I’m mean all of our employees parked their cars in the, in the shape of her name and I’ve sent that to her and I’m just going to be videoed it. I can’t tell you. I ended for the way out there. I’ve had over a hundred rejections. I’ve written a lot of books and you know how it is when you saw publish, you go to a conference, people will want to buy a thousand books, you know you make good money, but to get a good literary agent, there’s a rejection there and so I just threw out there and you want to write a book? You’re going to get rejected. It’s just going to have it, but yep. Hopefully the the cars in the shape of ethos. Name, why fat or deter or winter over this time we did it

that you get a plus plus

perfect, great drone video over it and everything. I’ll send you a link once we hop off. I will do it. Now. Gretchen, I want to ask you this because your first book that you wrote, power money, fame, sex, a user’s guide, that particular book, if you’ve ever read any of your books, you’re out there listening. If you haven’t read one of her books, listen, if you just want to say, I like your podcast. What should I do? Buy One of her books. I don’t care what book you buy by Gretchen Rubin Book today by the book. I’m serious. You’ve got to buy a book. You got to do by one of her books and you’re going to see a woman. I mean this in a kind way, not a backhanded compliment. You maniacally obsess and research about a subject to the point that I think anybody out there would have stopped halfway through or of the way through, and then it’s almost like when you read your book, it’s like, I now know everything about this subject and I’ve summarized it for you. I mean, it’s so easy to read, but you’ve done so much research, so I just want to ask you, I mean,

just say that that’s like one of the nicest things anybody’s ever said.

No, it’s yours. I feel like it’s a gift. It’s like you’ve read everything there is to know about John f Kennedy or Winston Churchill and here it is for you and obscure books. So I want to ask you, what made you first want to write power, money, fame, sex, a user’s guide. It’s an incredible book. What made you first want to read that book or that book? Research Studies?

Well, you know, I, like I said, I just had this moment where it like hit me and it was like a link. That idea in my mind. It was like power, money, fame, sex. And um, I remember I was at a cocktail party in DC and for some reason Walter Isaacson was there who was like way way.


Britain than I was. But somehow I got talking to Walter Isaacson and I was like, oh, I’m thinking about writing this book to her. Many things, checks. And he goes, nope, you can only have three red, white, and blue. You can only have three. And I’m like, power, money, fame, sex. Which one would you leave out? There’s four.

Can I interrupt? Can drop one. I have to interrupt you just for one second. I’m so sorry to interrupt somebody who’s in the Oprah top hundred here. Okay. Walter Isaacson. Anyone out there? He doesn’t know. He is one the best authors of our generation. And he has been the guy behind books that it’s like Steve Jobs, 2011 if you’ve ever it. It’s unbelievably researched. A Leonardo Davinci 2017. Uh, so when Gretchen throws out Walter Isaacson, I just want to make sure everybody understands. Walter Isaacson is a big deal. I think you’re probably a bigger deal, but he’s a big deal. Back to you. I’m so sorry. I just wanna make sure we get all the content.

Yeah, no, he was an incredibly big deal and I was so scared to talk to him. I was like, this little, you know, it was like, that was when I was still clerking. Like I was just like, this is the book that I wanted to write. Um, so I was incredibly excited to be talking to them. So then it was ah, it was like, oh my gosh, like Walter Isaacson telling me to drop one, but I’m like, there isn’t one to drop. I have to have all four. So he was really like this idea that just hit me and I wanted to figure out how they fit together. I wanted to understand like, um, and I’ve been very, I’ve always a person who loves like weird format of a book. Like I like things that are told in an unusual way. Um, my earlier books all did that. My later books had been much more traditional narrative because I find that that’s really, that’s a better way to reach people,

sleep but, and I can do and I couldn’t do it again.

Conventional things like on my blog now, like if I want to make a list instead of writing paragraphs, I can do it on my blog. So I get it out of my system that way. But I was, I loved the book, If anybody remembers a book called the preppy handbook, which is this book in the eighties that was written like a guide about how to dress like a preppy person and it was kind of part social criticism and part like actual how to guide because it was all very true and accurate and that was part of what made it fun. But then it was also kind of a critique of the whole idea of what it was to be preppy or to be waspy. And this book just enthralls me. I just thought it was so brilliant and how it was so funny. And so I was really trying to.

I, I, I, when I was thinking the power money, fame, sex, I was very much channeling that kind of framework where it was like, if you want to tell people how to use power, like how could I do it in a way that would seem kind of like a joke, but also kind of not like a joke. Like I don’t know if anybody in your audience who like works in Washington DC. One funny thing about watching these people have flagged if you go into like a big person’s office, they have a flag in their office and there’s this whole thing about how many blogs you have,

what are your flag? And it’s just like,

what’s up with the flag, like we’re were in a government building, like, you know, like, like you can just assume there’s a flag and I’ve written the back of everyone’s head. Um, but anyway, so it’s full of like little funny things like that. Um, and so yeah, so that was a really fun book to write. Oh my God, it was like the opposite of the happiness project.


Preparation for happiness, bread.

Well, here’s the thing, you know, you obsess about ideas and I’ve been obsessing recently about this concept of the Ipod, ipod versus it’s a figure of speech where Donald Trump always says things that he likes. He’ll say, I’m not going to say this, but some people have said this, so I’m just going to, I’m going to practice on our listeners out there. I’m not going to say you’re a bad person if you don’t buy a Gretchen Rubin Book Right now, but I’m saying some people have said, some people have said I wouldn’t go as far as to say I would never. I’ve gone on record and say, but you would, you could say so you got to go check out one of her books. I could say that some headset. No, Gretchen up. You’ve written books with incredible research about JFK, a incredible books about Winston Churchill. Um, can you JFK, Winston Churchill. Why did you decide to, to deep dive into their lives? Because they’re both very. It seemed like Winston Churchill was great at everything. It was like he lived 500 lives. It was crazy. You’d let guy. He lived dozens of lives simultaneously, hundreds of lives. It was like, did he make sense? And JFK was a very complicated human, a Lotta young and a Yang there. Can you talk to us about those two books and, and what made you want to deep dive into their very complicated lives?

Well, I think you’ve put your finger right on what drew me to them as subjects, which is really, when I think about all my books, what I’m really interested in at the fundamental level is human nature. I’m fascinated by human nature. Why are we the way we are? How can we change that we want to change, like what makes somebody the person they are and make the decisions that they make. And what I love about Churchill and Kennedy, as you point out for both of them, they’re larger than life. These are exaggerated figures. Like everything in human nature is like blown up to just gigantic proportion. Especially [inaudible]. There’s so much evidence, like there’s so much research and like especially Churchill, like there’s just volumes and volumes and volumes of what he said and what he did and what he wrote and what he thought and interviews and observations and Kennedy is short as a license.

You lived. Oh my gosh. Like I’m like how did the guy do anything? But I have his picture taken because there’s so many pictures and you know. And also he has tremendous like people writing about him and accounts and his own books and his own writing and his speeches and government documents and and but they are these very complicated figures and I think it’s just fascinating to study them because a lot of times you see in them more clearly thinks that many people have, but just not to the same elevated degree. So it’s harder to see. But with these people who are. So I’m kind of well documented and so clearly outlined is it’s easier to see human nature at work.

When you researched a John F Kennedy, he was such a complicated person. And for anybody out there who hasn’t read the book yet, can you tee up why somebody would want to read your book about John F Kennedy? Because I’ve found it to be very fascinating. And again you read, and I don’t mean this in a backhanded compliment, you read some weird stuff. I mean you read some things, you’re going to the library, to your. You’re the kind of person where like, oh, timeout Gretchen, we need to come out of the library. Come on out. You just keep dive into weird stuff. Why would anybody want to read your book about John F Kennedy?

Well, you know, here’s the thing about my books and I finally. I did not want this to be true, but I found it to be true. I found. I wrote my books thinking my books are like the the, the starter book. If you don’t know anything about Winston Churchill, if you don’t know anything about Kennedy, my book is going to be the book that’s going to convince you. You want to go read a ton of biographies and history is because you’re going to get so intrigued because my book is going to show you how fascinating this character is. What I’ve learned, because you only know your audience when it’s too late. When the book is already out, is it actually the people who liked my approach, like my book are the people who already know a lot about these characters who really are very, very knowledgeable because what I do in the books there, it’s called 40 ways to look at Winston Churchill in 40 ways to look at jfk is in 40 ways.

I look at them through different perspectives, so it’s not a straight narrative that you know, goes from birth to death or goes from like, you know, uh, the, you know, and then this flashbacks or something like that. This is like, so like in each book, the first chapter is like the heroic version and it’s completely factually accurate. Everything’s not actually accurate. It’s just like if you were going to give the best possible account, this is what you would say all true. And then the second chapter is like, if you wanted to paint the worst possible picture, again, completely factually accurate, nothing in there hands,

not true. You’re just as an example, what would be something in your chapter or your book where you go, JFK, if you wanted to paint the worst possible picture possible of John F Kennedy, you accept that that’s a controversial idea. What would be where you’d say, this guy, he could be the worst because then he can be the best. Because I’d love to get your take on that because this is great.

Gallo. He’s a philanderer, he’s a daddy’s boy. He’s, he’s manipulative use. You know, he’s a, he is not always cracked up to be, um, you know, he’s constantly,

when you say flander manipulative, can you kind of give us just a little, little detail because someone painted like crazy. I mean, it’s,

by today’s standards, it’s astonishing to think the mischief that he got up to, which, you know, it’s extraordinary. On the other hand, he inspired a nation. He lives in memory the way. I mean, the whole. My whole book really is like, what does it mean to live in memory? What does it mean? What does it mean he represented an ideal to people that’s almost impossible to do, but somehow he embodied this idea, um, and he was able to speak truth in a way that, that resonated with people in a way that we still can quote him and hear his voice in our ears. Like he stood for something. Um, and in a way he didn’t live up to the ideal that he presented, but he was able to somehow present it. And I think that’s really extraordinary. And to try to understand why and how.

At that time, what he did was he was able to do that is is is really hard to do because I think so many people try to step forward and articulate an ideal, but people are. They don’t really get it there. It doesn’t really resonate or they. They’re like, yeah, you know, you just are making speeches are like, oh, whatever. But then for somehow some people are able to say it in a way that everybody hears that and is moved and it’s changed and that he was able to do so. He had many, many flaws and limitations, but then he also achieved greatness and in his own way,

Winston Churchill, Churchill, Churchill can you just kind of tease us about. Because there’s somebody out there, you know, they’re just on the verge. Chuck people, people say say, you know what? I’m going to spend $19 on randall purchases at starbucks. I don’t know whether I spend $19 with Gretchen Rubin. I have to have some traction here. Orange Mocha Frappuccino. So Prime Minister Winston Churchill, what would be like the best and the worst kind of stuff?

Oh, I mean he did. He held every important office. He was part of every important event during his lifetime. He was completely dedicated to his country. He was a brilliant writer as well as the brilliant statesman. He, he had a vision, um, the, you know, in a way he loved the entire West. I mean, you read what he said and again, he was in the funniest thing that I really learned as a writer from Churchill is he, you know, he can be grandiloquent and who will use these words and a super fancy Latin and things and he would talk about, you know, and then when he needed to hammer it home, we shall go on to the end, give us the tools and we will finish the job. He would bring it right down to a single syllable he knew how to communicate to people.

And um, and uh, again, you know, and then people said, as writes me, and they’re like, oh, but he’s so tremendously flawed. And they recite to me all the, all the evidence that I put in chapter two of my own book. I’m like, I wrote that. Yes, I get the good. And I get to that, you know, and um, and I think uh, so I think it’s fascinating. It’s also that the, I have to say, even though it sounds very boring, it books are also really about the, about the nature of biography, which is you, you believe that you understand a version of a person because somebody told you that version. But there are choices that are being made and there’s, there’s evidence that is not known. Like a lot of times biographers will talk about motivation. Well, unless somebody tells you their motivation, you don’t know what it is, and they could be lying or they could even be lying to themselves.

We don’t really know why people do the things they do. Environments are incredibly reckless about assuming that they and why people do what they do. And we know in life, a lot of times people do things for the weirdest reasons. Like you don’t know what people do, what they do. And so anyway, it’s about the problem of trying to tell someone else’s story of a final version of someone’s doing. A funny thing that happened with the Churchill book is one of the things I write about is how we had pink silk underwear, Churchill, so I got this very indignant letter from some kind of former military person in the UK, scolding me for coming up with such a preposterous thing and I’m like, by the way, look in the memoir from Churchill’s own daughter Mary, she’s the one who writes about it at great length. So again, you might be like, who’s the last person on earth who would wear a Pale pink silk underwear? It was the sheriff while he did you know, and there’s his daughter explaining why. And so, you know, so the eye, that’s what fascinates me about biography is the unexpected and like how we can tell how we can’t really. We don’t, we can’t really tell a final version of someone’s story


Well, who know a lot about a character or are interested in mind because it’s like you could look at it this way, you look at it this way because there’s this other way. They liked that because they already know a lot.

Well, let me tell you my secret motivation for having on the show today. I personally selfishly excited about your books and I love the process with which you write books and I feel like if there was a female version of me it would be you and I mean that in a good way. I just, I obsess about topics and my partner and I, that’s what we’ve been able to build these 13 multimillion dollar companies that people know us for us because we just obsess about dog training or haircuts for forever, for about two years. And then we build a brand and then we scale it. And so that’s why I know what you ate for breakfast today and I’m just going to ask you for the listeners out there who don’t know, what did you eat for breakfast today?

Scrambled eggs with. I’m sure you knew

because you eat the same thing every day. Because I’m not healthy. I obsess about one thing and it’s Gretchen Rubin. What makes her tick? So I want to ask you Gretchen and I already know the answer, but I just want to, for the listeners out there, cause this is, I mean it’s Cathartic for me because I’m, I love your process. I just love the way you do life. It’s awesome when you’re writing a book, what percentage of your day is spent taking notes?

You know, that’s very, it’s hard to say because it, it adds in flows like depending on like taking notes. It’s like sometimes I read a book and I’m going to take hours and hours of notes because the book is so full of information and then sometimes I read a book and maybe there’s one thing that I would write down. Um, but you’re right, I take that’s a big part of my work process and it’s actually takes a lot of time is note taking. So I read a lot because I love to read but, and, but then a lot of times, especially if I’m doing research for a book, so I’m reading about something specific. There might be just hours of of note taking because that’s how I kind of start coming to my own conclusions is I’ll take notes and that’s how I kind of learn it and then I started having questions and thinking like, well maybe these two things are associated or sub. Yeah, that’s. And then and then it’s nice because then when I’m actually starting to write a book, I already have like a bunch of stuff already written because I’m already started to kind of digest it and never starting from like total zero.

You were in the man cave studios. Now Gretchen, I know that you live in a very populous area. You live in New York. I live in when I call Camp Clark and chicken palace, which if you’re ever looking for a vacation destination, it’s like a 17 acres of woods and trees with the behind a wall. We have a. We have a silky chicken. These are newlands, some chickens out there for new chicken this week about Gretchen. That’s a guilty pleasure. I buy for chickens every time I can. And so I, I kinda, we love the opposite in terms of the actual place that we live with Chubb. You’ve seen the books, they’re in the studio there. Do I not just destroy books with notes, with notes, with coffee stained with water dropped in the past and you would not believe what some of these books look like? They’ve definitely been gone through over and over again. So I heard that you take notes like this,

that it helps you later. Like if you have to go back, you can find just what you’re looking for because you’ve marked it up. Like some people feel like it’s somehow heretical to mark a book. And I’m like no, that’s a way to love a book because that’s the way to mark it up.

So we have a book, a book now. Okay. So I want to ask you this now. So as far as with your books, do you take notes in the margin? You put tabs on them? What’s your move for taking those notes? So excited.

So a lot of times I read library books and so library books, I use the sticky note and then I will put the sticky note in and if I need to write a note to myself about like why something’s important, I’ll write it on the sticky note so I can not, you know, deface a library book. If it’s a book that is mine, then I dog ear it and write all of them.

That’s right. Now the reason why you’re reading library books, I wanna make sure listeners understand this. You’re reading some obscure stuff. I mean technically speaking, Gretchen, you’re reading some obscure crap. I mean stuff that nobody else is gonna read, right? I mean do you not read books that nobody else is checking out? I mean, you check out the book and they’re like, really? Is that the book you want? I mean, you’re reading some stuff that’s not in print. You’re not reading best selling books. I mean, you really go deep.

I do. And I do love the library for that and I love that you can get things online that are like very, very scared because I do. And then I do a lot of things too, like if a book is recommended by a book in a book that I like, I will often read that book just because I’m like, well it came up, it was important enough to come up in this other book. So lots of times I go through these book chains or I don’t even know. Like I look at my library list, I’m like, I have no idea why, where I heard about this book, but I’ll give it a shot. That’s another thing I love about library books as you can be very reckless because you just return it, you know, I’m like, I’ll just stick it in my bag and kind of like it after five pages, I’ll just return it. Whereas if you buy it, you feel like you gotta really kind of think about that for a minute. Um, yeah. But I love reading weird stuff. I love like finding some, some weird book that nobody’s or, or like a bumped into class, but that nobody reads. Like I just read Florence Nightingale’s notes on nursing. It was like an incredibly important book. And like the history of the world, but nobody reads it anymore. So I was like, what is Florence Nightingale actually? Right. And that was. That was kind of interesting.

This is an awesome interview. Gretchen, you’re, you’re a wealth of information. I wanted to ask you, you said that you spend three hours a day or something like that at the library. Is that right?

If I’m doing a like original writing, like I’m not always in that cycle in my process because like right now I have a book coming out in March so the book’s done. I’m just like right in the back copy and all that stuff. Looking at the pat first pass stages, but when I’m actually writing an original book for the first time, then I spent three hours in the library. But absolutely.

I wanted to ask you about that. What does that look like? So you sit down, walk us through, you know, you open up the laptop, was it a mad dash or you just getting all the

real quick. Let me queue up the music a Gretchen, I know this is inappropriate but I’ve installed without you knowing a microphone in your cranium and so when you go to the library, this is what she hears right away. She gets in it. I like it when you’re in the library. Yeah. And what are you thinking?

Well, I like to go to, in my library there throughout the staff and so I go to a dust that’s all surrounded by books, but there’s nobody around us in a corner and I have a laptop and a little mouth so I plugged in my now and I will sit down and I never starting from zero because I have all these notes. So usually I have a plate. I will not. I will say start here every time I’m done so that I remember where to start and I will go back a couple of paragraphs and get myself back in my mindset and then I’ll start writing again.

Very cool. Are you wearing headphones?


Sounds like the Internet there. You’re taking in the aura, soaking it. All the answers of the questions have been answered. This is huge. Now you, you are somebody who reads these books, you love to read books in and I recently heard that you loved the book pattern language. Yeah. Christopher Alexander. So I chubb please share with Gretchen how does the decor of our office Gretsch. We have about a 20,000 square foot office, also Oklahoma. There’s one, there’s hundreds of employees and so I have a big old. Did some point. You got to fly to Tulsa. I want to shake your hand and apologized for not being a better interviewer, but we have know 20,000 square foot facility and Chubb. How would you describe the Patina or the decor or the ambiance of our office so she can mentally picture it.

You stole my word. I was gonna say lots of Patina, lots of swag, you know, old barn wood on the walls everywhere. A positive quotes, big winds from big figures in the business world. And just positive encouragement. Edison bulbs, always overhead music going the rich smell of pinion wood burning somewhere throughout. Um, so very, very swag malicious. That’s how I would describe.

I’m very intentional about my ambiance and decor and so when I heard just book pattern language, you’re talking about it on a couple different podcasts. I immediately am like, I got to get this book and it is awesome. It’s like the holy grail. Talk to us about pattern language

does this very kind of unconventional book and it looks at patterns in kind of built environments that people find appealing. So it’s not about like, this is the Baroque style or your office desk should be x feet wide. It’s things like child cave staircase, staircase as terrace overlooking life, um, waist high shelf. It’s about these patterns about what makes people feel good in an environment. And what happens to me, and maybe you had the same experience, is that when you read it, you start understanding why some places feel more comfortable and appealing than others. Like one of the things he says, his feelings at different heights, people tend to feel more comfortable in a place that has feeling a different heights. And if you walk into an office and you look and the ceiling is all the same height, you realize it feels like a flatter environment than if there’s an area where it kind of goes up or if you go into a restaurant and you see, oh, or like you walk into someone’s home and the like the hallway is slightly higher or even lower than the rest you feel. It just feels more interesting. Or like cascade of roof. You can look at a Japanese temple and a 17th century farm house and uh, you know, 1970 towels in California and you’ll see, wow, if I see a cascade of ruth, I just feel like that’s a more appealing design to me. So I loved it because it gave me a vocabulary for the things that appealed to me versus places that seemed cold to me. Um,

she could come to Tulsa and see how this book has texted me. I wish you could see because our are done. What have he done for our men’s grooming lounge? It’s called elephant in the room. If you get a chance to check it out today, it’s called e I t e r and my partner and I, we have, there’s 400 locations of oxy fresh to our carpet cleaning franchise. It’s the world’s greenest carpet cleaning company, so we’d use a 10th of the water of anybody else in the world for. It’s very organic, you know, and so for our second business is called elephant in the room and we did the whole different ceiling heights and it’s amazing how many people walk in and go, wow, I love that cloud or what do you call that thing? It’s this need and it’s just amazing how these little moves really impact in. You actually win as far as to now if I’m wrong, you say clay, you are the wrongest man ever, but did you do not live in like a former watertower does it might correct

office. My Office is a former water tower.

Can you talk to us about the Mojo and the energy that you feel when you walk into the Gretchen’s Palace of incredible best selling books? I mean, when you walk in there, I mean you just, you don’t hear the rocky theme everyday. I mean it’s gotta be awesome. The water tower of power. Yeah.

Oh, I liked that. The Tower of power. I got to use it. Well, if you have a 20,000 square foot office, I have like the opposite of that is teeny, teeny, teeny. It’s at the top of my building. I live in New York City and a lot of times in New York City they have water towers and that’s to create pressure for showers and things like that. For whatever reason, before we moved in, they had taken her water tower out and the person who lived in our apartment before us had asked if she could build like a storage unit on the, on the roof where it had been and they gave her permission to do that or she paid or whatever. So she built this little room. So when we moved in the apartment and I thought, oh my gosh, this is great. I can turn it into my office because it has three windows.

It and it had a heat. So I put it in an air conditioner and it’s just this little tiny office, but it’s just, it’s like my space capsule, you know, it’s like plenty big for me and it’s kind of Nice because um, it’s pretty easy to sort of keep it organized and clean because that’s very, very small and like if it gets cold, it’s easy to heat with a heat. This space here because it’s just tiny. Um, but it’s separate from the rest of my apartment, which kind of psychologically I like I’m kind of on, on, on the roof of the building.

You want to go to your water tower, I want to see it. I want to ask and I want to ask you what it costs, but I would say for me, my office costs me $27,000 a month, 20,000 square feet. You know, there’s a lot of employees. Holy smokes, I don’t know what your costs. But in Manhattan, I mean it’s expensive. I mean it’s expensive.

Part of my apartment, the student centered part of my apartment. So this is part of the class to buy apartment

even better. So you. And your, you and your, does he, does he work there too? Do you work there with him? No. No. So I want to get into your office in a non weird way. You go there and you have three monitors and if you’ve changed since then, I apologize for Ms Dot Courtney. You have three monitors. I’ve kind of visualized it. You have three monitors. Can you talk to me about why you have the three monitors and how that helps you?

So I have like a guy who’s my it person, you know, who helps me with my computers and my backup on my phone and all this stuff and he had any. So He’s, I worked with him for a long time so he knows my work style very well and he’s been. And this was years ago and he shouldn’t be. I think you should get a second monitor. And I was like no, because I know like the multitask. I don’t want to get distracted. I don’t want two monitors. But then I read an article that said that for information workers, which is what I am on, that if they had a second monitor, they actually saw like a very, a noticeable increase in productivity that it wasn’t something that was a distraction, but it actually really helped you save time. So I called up my Guy Charles and I was like, Okay Charles.

All right, I’m going to try a second monitor. Literally I’d had second the second monitor for one day when I was like, okay, come back please. I need a third monitor because it’s so dramatically affected my productivity because I could have my email up and I’m like, if I’m working on a document but I need a consultant emailed, they’re both up or if I need to look at something online that’s easy to do, I can move between dock among documents. Um, I tend to have like a, like note taking, like I might be working on a draft, but I also need to help my notes open. And so now I can have them both open simultaneously. So it saved me a huge amount of time of like opening and clicking and I can just have everything on and you would think it would be very distracting, but in fact I find that it’s not distracting. It’s actually helps me to focus because I’m not distracted by needing to click. I can just have what I need.

Have you ever read the last lecture by Randy Pausch?

Oh, sure. Of course. Yes.

Uh, my dad, uh, died from als about two years ago and uh, my dad was a huge fan of Randy Pash as. It’s kind of weird, but my dad introduced me to book to the book and 2008, I believe, chosen seven, maybe eight. And Randy Pausch, you know, he was a guy for out there, doesn’t know he was terminally ill of cancer I believe, and he made a list of things that would have, that would save you time if you implemented them. And one of the things he talked about, and this is a Carnegie Mellon professor, he said if you had two monitors, it would save you a lot of time because of exactly what you just said. And so I was introduced to the idea of two monitors for my dad and it was, and you know, and I know it doesn’t seem like a dramatic thing, but it saves people Gretchen, like an hour a day if you have to walk in.

And then if you add that up. So my dad got sick with als, I will have the time to visit my dad because I didn’t have spent eight hours a week minimizing windows. And I just want to encourage everybody out there. It’s a powerful and you, you have come up with ways to make people dramatically happier. Ways that we can always listeners become dramatically happier. And I’d like to kind of deep dive into that because you have these little simple hacks that you’ve researched and studied and you’ve got to a place where it’s, it’s, it’s do you give people a whole lot of different ways that they can be, be happier? And one of the things you talked about was having your own commandments, these commands, and I heard you talk about your 12 commandments. Maybe you’ve updated, maybe you have 13 now or have 12, 12. So what I would like to do is first can we talk about commandments and why it’s good for all of our listeners out there to have a monitor. Just having two monitors can save you like an hour a day. But these commandments can make your life exponentially happier. Can you talk about the importance of why all of our listeners need to write down their own set of commandments?

Well, you know, I think to be happier you really have to think about, you know, what do you want from your life and what are your values? What are your interests, what’s important to you? And the thing about. And it took me months to write my commandments. I don’t think this is something that a person could just sit down and bang out in an hour. Um, so what I wanted to do with the commandments is to articulate like life values. What? Like I really wanted to live, not like make your bed every day, which I do, but like deeper, more transcendent values, but also in a pithy way because you know, if you’re like have a mission statement that’s a paragraph long, you’re like Yada Yada Yada. But I wanted it to be very succinct so we kind of stick in my mind better that I would, I could review them quickly and really have them echoing through my brain as I went through my day every day.

And it was interesting to try to get to 12 because sometimes there would be more and sometimes there would be fewer and then I would think, well these two things are actually just different ways of saying the same thing. So part of it was, it was very creative, was sort of fun to kind of think like, well how would I really distill down what’s most important to me? And I’ve heard of people doing it themselves because it is a really fun creative thing. Or like they do it in like a Bible Study Group. It’s like a group exercise or like sometimes people do it for their children because they want to say like I want, like I want my children to sort of see what’s important to me. And what’s funny because people often send me their personal commandments is that you can read someone’s personal commandments, which is like probably the whole thing is like 100 words and you really get a good sense of them, like what they’re like deep, deep, deep inside, what they’re like on the surface.

But you’re like, I know where this person is coming from. I know what their struggles are, I know what they value because it’s, it’s in the personal commandments. And what’s funny is that some people’s commandments or the opposite of other peoples, like some peoples, it’s like do it now. And somebody else could say wait. Um, and one year my, my sister and I, my sister does this too in her own way. And I had the word bigger. Is it like kind of as a theme? And she had the word smaller. These aren’t my personal commandments but kind of

related endeavors. So is this Elizabeth one size fits all? Is this Elizabeth? You’re talking about your sister Elizabeth? Yes. That’s my sister cohosted podcast. Yeah. I’m so sorry to cut you off. I want to make sure the listeners know, but you guys do that with the podcast. I want to make sure. Okay. So you, your sister, I mean do or your commandments? Very different. Very different.

Uh, they are different. Yeah. But because mine are so specific to me, I mean literally the first one is be Gretchen. So that’s that. People will often say, oh, I know you have to substitute your own name. Um, but yeah, it’s this idea is that it really has to come from what’s most important to you and also kind of what your failings are. Because a lot of my, a lot of my, several of my commandments are really about reminding me to be, to kind of push myself to expect more from myself. I’m like, one of mines is no calculation because um, my spiritual master is St Therese of Lisieux even though I’m not even Catholic, but I love St Therese. And she said in her memoir, when one loved one does not calculate, and the thing about me is I’m a bean counter, I’m like, I did this for you, so you should do this for me. My turn. Now it’s your time.

We go, that’s not a good way to be. Come on, come on. That’s a good way. That’s the way I am. That’s the way I calculate.

You know what I mean? Because otherwise, because it’s sort of like reminds me of

like, go against that a little bit. Right now I want to do is I want to read each one of your commandments and I’d like for you to give us a quick summary of what it is. Here we go. We have it. Number one, we talked about it. Be Gretchen, which substitute for your name. Have a number to let it go. What does that mean?

Which is like there’s so many things where you’re like, just let it go. You didn’t. This is not my business. This is not my problem. It doesn’t matter if this gets solved. I don’t have to. I don’t. I can leave that comment. Unset. Somebody said and a happy marriage, like three things or unsaid each day. I’m like, yeah, just let that go. You don’t need to comment. You don’t need to say I told you so. You don’t need to say why didn’t you or why won’t you let it go.

A quick apology on behalf of all men out there. Basically I’ve discovered my wife is usually right, but not until somebody from the business world tells me so my wife will make a very astute, very masterful, very wise, our recommendation and I’ll say, oh, come on, come on. Yeah, your tone was so negative, believable, and then I’ll go talk to like Lee Cockerell who managed Walt Disney world for 10 years. He’ll make the exact same statement. Then I’ll come back to her Gretchen, usually 18 to 24 months later and I’ll say, Vanessa lead told me this brilliant idea, and then she’ll say, I told you that 24 months ago and I’ll say that that’s true, but do us not talking about the test. Okay. Now the third is act the way I want to feel. What does that mean?

Well, this is a very interesting psychological phenomenon that we can all take advantage of, which is we feel that we, we asked because of the way we feel, so like I’m yelling and slamming doors because I’m angry, but who a very great extent. The brain assumes that we’re feeling something because of the way we’re acting. So the brain is really like, wow, people are yelling and slamming doors. I guess there’s a lot of anger in here and so you can really take advantage of this by acting the way you wish you felt. So if you feel kind of low energy assets, more energy, talk with more animation, move more quickly, kind of forced yourself to run down the stairs and you will start to feel more energetic. Or if you’re feeling kind of reserved and you don’t really want to deal with anybody, go out there and really, you know, really kind of force yourself to be overtly friendly.

Really go out of your way to meet people’s eyes and you know, have conversation that gave you that feeling. If you’re feeling angry or resentful to somebody started thinking like, but I’m grateful for this person. Why do I feel grateful for this person? And as you begin to say, I really appreciate that you always get that report in on time that really makes my life easier, that I know that I can count on you. To always be timely. You will start to feel yourself. These emotions coming like and they’re authentic. You really are truly feeling them. It’s just that you’ve. You’ve engendered them in yourself by changing your behavior. It’s hard to change your emotions. It’s much easier to change our behavior and by changing your behavior, you can change your emotional state

hypothetically. Not at all happening now, but in a parallel universe. If you were to interview Gretchen Rubin and you would be out of your mind, nervous, what you would say is I am calm. I feel confident. I am nervous. I have no. I’m not overwhelmed by the gravity of interviewing somebody who’s sold 3 million books, and so I must ask you number four. Okay, so do it now. What were the commandment? Number four, do it now. What does that mean?

A lot of times it’s just easier go ahead and do it now. Like why? Like getting my flu vaccine last year, I’m, I’m embarrassed to say I kept wanting to do it, kept wanting to do it, put it off

more convenient

and the whole year went by and this year I’m like just do it now. Get the flu vaccine and just like get that noise out of your head and get the advantage of getting the flu vaccine. So it’s like don’t assume without delay is the best way. Almost always. And so it’s like try to like get things done right away. It’s just easier.

Who’d you want to have a guy on your podcast would talk about? How it took him? Three attempts to get a sec to me. I would be happy to talk about that. I put five kids. We have five kids and I’m not kidding. We wanted to have five kids and my wife said you have to have a vasectomy. And I put that thing off for the longest. I almost became a syllabus monk. I chip. I was living on the couch. You didn’t put it off, you use fled the scene of the doctor’s office would show up for the procedure and the doctor would say, okay, you did your pants and I’m like, go to the bathroom, and I never came back out the window story. I paid full price twice where I never delivered, so that’s a separate conversation.

I think a doctor should have been able to do a better job with you I think. I think that there could have been a little bit more of a like a, a understanding of how you needed to have to be talked to in a way that will help you with that situation.

Yeah. I read dart in the back of throat conventionally violated just by having an appointment. That’s what I felt. Okay. So be polite and be fair. What does that mean? Number five.

So I had a boss. I’m early in my career. She was just incredibly fierce, stern, a tiny woman, and I was getting a big promotion and I was nervous about whether I was going to be able to do it, and I said to her, I’m nervous about whether I’m going to be able to do this. I was going to be managing people who were much older than I was. So it was kind of, it was very intimidating in that way. And um, she looked at me and she said, be polite and be fair and you will be fine. And I have realized in life, but that isn’t very profound. If you are polite and your fair, it gets you a long way to doing the right thing. And so I just always remind myself, be polite and be fair.

Enjoy the process. What does that mean?

Oh, this is something my dad always says. This is just advice for my sister and me, which is if you enjoy the process, then then life is good. You know, like then you’re enjoying what you’re doing. But if you’re always counting on a results and you’re miserable along the way, then if you don’t get what you want then like it’s all been a huge waste. And then even if you do get what you want, you’ve had all this time that you have not enjoyed or appreciated. So he’s always like, it’s like, you know, we have really little kids and they’re driving you crazy. Enjoy the process. Or like my sister is a television writer. She’s got, you know, she’s like a show runner. She’s got a huge demanding job and she has a sign above her office and says it’s a fun job and I enjoy it to remind yourself, this is what I want it. This is what I asked for, this is what I enjoyed the process, you know, remember. And so, you know, like when I’m getting criticism from my editor, I think enjoy the process. This is part of the process. I love this.

Everybody out there who wants to read all 12 of your commandments, what’s the best place where they can find them all? Where would you our listeners to go to?

Go to my site, Gretchen Rubin Dot com, and just search and you will find it because I’ve written about it several times. It’s something that it’s an idea that people are really interested in. So I’ve written about a lot and I also have examples of other people’s commandments because I think sometimes people get ideas for their own commandments by seeing what other people choose. And that is totally fun. You do not. You can look around the world and do and get ideas from other people. Absolutely. Just like many of mine are, quotations are inspired by other people. Um, I think that’s a great way to get some of your commandments.

Well, I have respect for your time. I have three final questions I want to ask you and I heard you say during one of your interviews you said that you would prefer and if I’m getting out of context, I apologize. You said you’d prefer for everyday to be the same. I feel like I’ve said that to eric and to all the members of our team, at least thousands of is going to say at least every. Oh yes. I, I where I literally wear the same exact thing and this is true every single day I wear a hat that says boom, I wear a jersey on the back of it, it says my wife’s name Vanessa, because I want to make sure I focus on what matters and I every single day. Yep. And so can you talk to me about what you meant by that statement? Because when I heard you make that statement I thought were the same person.

No, I felt like I love routine. I love having, it makes me feel energized. I love feeling like everything’s in the right place. I’d like not like there’s decision fatigue, like you don’t have decisions to make about what to wear because you were the same thing every day. You decided what you want to wear and why it makes perfect sense for you. You’re doing it. I would love to show them like I get up at 6:00 AM every day because it’s, it’s pretty easy to fix, to set your the time that you wake up, but it’s like I would love to like go to the library every day at the same time. We’re like, do my email everyday at the same time, but I’ve got to do an interview or I’ve got a. no, it isn’t so part of it, but if I could be a benedictine monk and have that kind of a water tower, those I love those hours that they have. It’s just so appeals to me.

Okay, so your newest book, again, I know you’re working on another book. Your newest book is called the four tendencies can share with the listeners about what this book is all about and why everybody knows I’m not attacking anybody. If I’ve said, if you don’t buy this book question what you’re putting worth. Typically people might have said, people have to say, we wouldn’t say it. So the four tendencies, why would all the listeners want to check that out?

Well, what it does is it’s a personality framework that tells you whether you’re an upholder a question or an obliger or rebel and there’s a quiz on my site if people want to take the quiz and find out what they are, it’s like Gretchen Rubin Dot Com. Um, but what’s helpful about knowing your tendency is then you can really set things up. Like if you’re having trouble changing a habit or you’re feeling frustrated or burned out or you’re procrastinating on something, knowing your tendency really helps you figure out exactly what to do differently. It’s not just like throw spaghetti against a wall and it’s not a one size fits all solution because as we all know, the fact that something works really well for somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean that it works well for me. And a lot of times people blame themselves for that. I’m like, no, no, no.

It’s because people are different. So this doesn’t work for you. Here are these other things to try and the four tendencies, if you know yourself that if you know other people, so you’re working with somebody who you’re like, I don’t understand, like why are they driving me crazy? Like why are they doing this thing that makes no sense? Why? Why aren’t they? Why aren’t they responding in the way that I would think they would respond? A lot of times if you understand their tenancy, it’s much clearer why they see the world the way they do and why they’re behaving the way they do and so then you can just reach a place of like harmony and efficiency much more easily because you’re not trying to say like, well, you’re right, I’m wrong. Or thinking I’m wrong, and you’re right. You’re just like, okay, well given our different perspectives, how do we come together in a place that works for both of us? And that’s a lot easier when you have a vocabulary and kind of understand the underpinnings of what’s going on

your book. I mean, you breathe, you break it down and you talked about how the questioner resists the outer expectations but meets their inner expectations. I mean you get into a deep dive about the obliger, the rebel, the upholders. It’s a phenomenal book to understand the way that people think. And I, I just, your research is so intense and so in depth. I feel like you’re giving us two years of your life of research and condensing it into, you know, a couple hundred pages, 300 pages. How long did you spend researching the four tendencies before you released that book?

Well, I had my, my previous book was a book called better than before. That’s about the 21 strategies that people can use to make or break habits. So I actually figured out the existence of the four tendencies as part of studying habits. Like because I was like, well how do you explain these patterns and how people can and can’t change how to change habits. So that led me to the four tendencies and so I wrote a chapter in that book, but that was one of 21 chapters because it was just one of 21 strategies and after better than before it came out, I was just daily with people who are like asking me questions like I need to know this. I wanted to teach a workshop like I need to like I need more and more and more and more. And finally I thought, oh my gosh, I really need to go in.

And first I was going to like read a little pdf and then I’m just going to write a pamphlet and then I’m like, no, I have to write a whole book. Because people were asking me such kind of like really thoughtful deep questions and asking me like, how would you approach a different, you know, I’m a doctor and I can’t get my patients to take their medication. Or I’m, I work with somebody who won’t wrong meet a deadline even though they’re perfectly capable of it. Or you know, why? Why does this person keep like every three years suddenly quitting their job with deep resentment, like what’s going on? And so it just turned into a book, so it took me about two years to write the book, but I’ve been thinking about it for much longer because it was part of better than before. So probably like four years I’ve been thinking about it, but I made it up so I couldn’t really. I couldn’t like go to the library and look it up. I had to like try to indirectly find stuff and so I was looking for movies and books where you see the tendencies and looking for like indirect, you know, like studies of conscientiousness, like what does that mean? It was hard. It’s hard to come up with something original because you can’t, you can’t really do your research.

Gretchen, we like to end each and every show with a boom. And for the people who listen to our show, the hundreds of thousands of listeners, boom stands for big, overwhelming, optimistic momentum. And I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you be willing to to bring the partake, partake in it, but we’re going to say three, two, one. That will end with a boom here. Chuck, are you ready? I am prepared. Clay stares. Former school teacher turned millionaire. You ready to go? So I am ready. Yes. Okay. And Ms Dot Gretchen Rubin. Are you ready to go?

I am ready.

Okay, here we go. Three, two, one.


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