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  • gretchenrubin 09:00:10 on 2019/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , eating, , , , , , ,   

    How Clearing Clutter Can Help You Lose Weight, If That’s Something You’d Like to Do. 


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    I've thought a lot about happiness and good habits. In my books The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before, I explore what actions we might take to make ourselves happier—and how we can shape our habits to help us actually do those actions.

    One habit that many people would like to follow? They'd like to eat more healthfully. People have many reasons to want to do this—to manage their blood sugar, to avoid food sensitivities, to cultivate their cooking skills, and for many people, to lose weight. (You may argue that people should eat healthfully for good health, and not frame this issue about "weight." That's true for many people. I'm not saying a person should do this—however, I talk to a lot of people about the habits they want to form and why, and many people do indeed report that they want to lose weight.)

    Another habit that people would like to adopt? They'd like to maintain outer order more consistently. As I write about in Outer Order, Inner Calm, for most people, to a surprising degree, outer order contributes to a feeling of inner calm, inner energy, a sense of possibility.

    And, I've noticed, these two habits often go together. Not necessarily for rational reasons, but in practice, I've observed (in other people and in myself), when we get our stuff under control, we feel in more control of ourselves, our actions, and our bodies.

    As odd as it sounds, cleaning out your coat closet can make it easier to avoid the vending machine at work. Good habits build on each other. Outer order builds a feeling of inner self-command.

    How can you harness this connection between outer order, eating healthfully, and losing weight? Consider...

    Close the kitchen.

    One common eating challenge for many people is nightly snacking. Dinner is over, but around 9:00 p.m. we wander through the kitchen, eating a handful of this or that. Or at 11:00 p.m., we find ourselves spooning ice cream out of the container, or peanut butter out of the jar (my husband's favorite treat).

    To help end this, close the kitchen. Put everything away properly, with no open bags on the counter or half-covered dishes in the fridge; close the drawers and cabinets; wipe the counters; turn off the lights. If your kitchen has a door, close the door.

    By creating an orderly, closed kitchen, you help signal yourself, "Eating time is over for the day." It feels odd to go back in there, and it discourages you from just "looking around." Bonus: brush your teeth.

    Create outer order to harness the power of the Strategy of Inconvenience.

    If a bag of potato chips is sitting open on the counter, it's a lot easier to reach in and grab just a few—and then keep going. If the bag of chips has a clip to keep the bag tightly closed and is sitting behind a cabinet door on a high shelf, it's much easier to resist. Research shows that to a hilarious degree, we're very influenced by the slightest bit of inconvenience or convenience. Along the same lines...

    Use outer order to put things out of view.

    When we see something, we think about it. When we don't see it, it's easier to forget that it's even there. So if you've baked cookies for your kids to take to school, box them up and put the box out of sight right away. If you leave the box out on the counter, you're more likely to keep reaching in. If you're worried that your child will forget to take the cookies if they aren't right by the door, put the box in a plastic bag and knot the bag shut, so you can't see them, and you'd have to rip open the plastic bag to get to the box. Then put the bag with the cookies by the door.

    Do not expect that you'll be inspired to eat more healthfully by keeping clothes that no longer fit.

    Very often, when people go through their closets, they find clothes that no longer fit. These items haven't been worn in years, but people hang on to them, to signal to themselves, "One day I'll be back to that size, and then I'll wear these things again."

    Giving these clothes away seems like an admission that this change will never happen.

    In my observation, the presence of these clothes doesn't help people eat better. If you want to eat better, work on that! My book Better Than Before is crammed with ideas to help you change your eating habits. But the guilt and anxiety—not to mention the crowded closet—created by these unwearable items doesn't help. Their presence acts as a discouraging drain, not a helpful spur.

    When I'm helping a friend to go through a closet, and we run into this issue, here's what I say—and it really works.

    I say, "Imagine the day when those clothes fit again. Do you think you'll feel like wearing these jeans that have sitting on the shelf for years, unworn? Or do you think you'll want to buy some new jeans?"

    This is a hopeful prospect. And it's true! This thought often allows people to give away those clothes.

    Clear clutter to help make you feel lighter.

    It's interesting: over and over, when people get rid of things they don't need, don't use, or don't love, and create outer order, they say, "I feel as if I've lost ten pounds." That's the simile that comes up over and over again. Outer order creates a feeling of lightness, of greater ease and freedom—people literally feel like a weight has lifted off their bodies. So if you're feeling weighed down or burdened, clearing clutter can be a way to create a feeling of lift and energy in your mind—one that will actually energize your body. And that feeling of energy, in turn, will make it easier to stick to good habits. (That's the Strategy of Foundation.)

    How about you? Have you experienced a connection between outer order and healthy eating?

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:01:03 on 2017/10/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , eating, , ,   

    Fighting Halloween Temptation? Tap into the Power of the Four Tendencies. 


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    Halloween treats! So colorful, so ubiquitous, so fun, so bite-sized...Halloween a major source of temptation for children and adults alike.

    As I know from writing Better Than Before, my book about habit change, eating healthfully is one of the most popular habits that people try to cultivate -- and Halloween is a challenging time to stick to good eating habits.

    In Better Than Before, I suggest many ways we can resist the temptation of mini-candy-bars, bags of candy-corn, beautifully decorated cupcakes and cookies, and so on. In particular, it's useful to harness the strength (and buttress the weakness) of our Tendency.

    As a side note, for my whole life, I had a tremendous sweet tooth. I couldn't resist candy, cookies, ice cream, anything sweet. It was such a relief when I figured out that I'm an "Abstainer," who finds it far easier to avoid sweets altogether instead of trying to eat in moderation. So now I eat no Halloween candy, ever. That's what works for me! If you want to read more about that, I discuss it here.

    To beat Halloween candy, I tapped into my Abstainer side. But another great tool is to think about your Tendency.

    Don't know your Tendency -- whether you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quiz here (more than a million people have taken the quiz!).

    Once you know your Tendency, consider these strategies -- and of course, a strategy suggested for a different Tendency might work well for you, too. Use anything that works!

    Harness Your Tendency

    Obliger: Obligers respond to outer accountability. That's the key for Obligers. So take steps to give yourself outer accountability for not eating Halloween candy.

    • Announce, "I'm not going to eat any Halloween candy this year" in front of everyone. (This strategy works well for my sister Elizabeth, who is an Obliger.)
    • If you dip into your kids' candy stash while they're at school (something I used to do often, until I quit sugar), ask your children to catalog all their candy, and to keep track of how much they have. My daughters, at least, loved to count and sort their candy, so this would've been a fun task for them. Then your children will know if you've been sneaking mini-Snickers when they're not around.
    • Think about your future self. Now-Gretchen wants to eat that cupcake, but Future-Gretchen will be disappointed that she ate so many sweets. Resist now, because you're accountable to your future-self.
    • Consider your duty to be a role model of healthy eating for your children, your sweetheart, your co-workers.
    • Join an Accountability Group -- you can easily do join a group on my app, the Better app.

    Questioner: Questioners respond to justifications. They tend to love to track and monitor. They benefit from clarity.

    • Keep count of exactly how many Halloween treats you've eaten. One easy way: keep the wrappers in a pile in front of you.
    • Convert Halloween candy into ordinary candy. If you wouldn't go into a store, buy two Kit-Kats, and eat them, why would you eat six mini-Kit-Kats?
    • Reflect on all the reasons you have for wanting to eat more healthfully: your energy, your weight, wanting to avoid stimulating cravings, etc. Skipping the treats makes sense to you.
    • Focus on efficiency. It's not efficient to try to eat healthfully for so many days, and then to go into a long period where you're not eating the way that you know is best for you.

    Rebel: Rebels respond to choice, freedom, and identity. Focus on these aspects by reminding yourself:

    • "I'm not addicted to sugar. I can take it or leave it."
    • "I respect my body, I choose to eat healthy, fresh foods. This processed candy and this fancy packaging can't control me, it can't tempt me to eat it."
    • "My kids think I can't resist indulging. Oh yeah? Watch me!"

    Upholder: Upholders respond to outer and inner expectations. For them, it's helpful to articulate clearly the nature of those expectations.

    • What is the right amount of Halloween treats for you?
    • When and where will you indulge in those Halloween treats?
    • Remind yourself of how great it feels to stick to expectations.

    Habit Strategies

    To be sure, it's tough to fight the lure of Halloween. Other strategies you might consider, in addition to the power of your Tendency:

    • the Strategy of Inconvenience: make it very tough to get to that Halloween candy, say, put it in a bag, tightly close the bag, put the bag in a plastic container with a tight seal, and place the container on a high shelf.
    • the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting: stay alert for loopholes you might invoke, such as the Lack of Control loophole ("With all this candy in the office, who can resist?"); the Planning to Fail loophole ("I bought my three big bags of candy for the neighborhood kids two weeks before Halloween, and put the candy in the bowls for decoration, and now I keep sneaking candy throughout the day"); the Concern for Others loophole ("I'm at your Halloween party, and it will hurt your feelings if I don't eat some of your pumpkin cookies"); the Tomorrow Loophole ("It doesn't matter what I eat today, because starting tomorrow, I'm going to eat so healthfully.")
    • the Strategy of Safeguards: think of possible temptations, so you can make if-then plans to withstand them. "If the office kitchen is full of Halloween treats, I'll stay out of there as much as possible." "If I go to a Halloween party, I'll stand very far from dessert-laden table." "I've gone fifteen days without sugar, I don't want to break the chain."
    • the Strategy of Abstaining: Personally, this is what works for me -- but the Strategy of Abstaining doesn't work for everyone. Figure out if, in this context, you're an Abstainer or a Moderator. I'm a moderator for wine, for instance, but an Abstainer for sweets.

    Do you find Halloween a time of temptation, or can you enjoy it healthfully? If you find it difficult to resist the lure of all those delightful treats, what helps you stick to your healthy habits?

     
  • gretchenrubin 21:15:08 on 2017/09/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , craving, eating, , , ,   

    Conversation About the Four Tendencies with Dr. Judson Brewer, Expert in Habits, Mindfulness, and Addiction. 


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    On August 11, 2017, Dr. Judson Brewer and I had a fascinating conversation about how he’s incorporating the Four Tendencies framework into his work, which focuses on helping people to master mindfulness, addiction, and habit change.

    I asked Jud to do this interview because I wanted to highlight the findings and insights he’s gained from using the Four Tendencies framework in his practice and research.

    My great hope is that when people learn about the Four Tendencies, they’ll be able to make their lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. Jud’s work in this area shows the efficacy of the Four Tendencies framework—and he’s also begun to do the kind of research that’s needed to put the framework to the test.

    Yes, Questioners, I know you want that research and data to validate the framework! It's coming!

    I'm posting our lengthy conversation below. If you'd like a PDF version, to print it out more easily, just email me to request it.

     

    Gretchen: You’ve done so much interesting work on mindfulness, addiction, and habit change. What’s your focus these days?

    Jud: In both my startup company, which develops apps, as well as my lab, which does all the related research, we're focusing our energy on developing good tools for how to help people create change.

    In particular, in the “Eat Right Now” program, at the pilot level, we’ve started incorporating your Four Tendencies quiz to help us get a sense for how your Tendencies framework can help people engage better with our program and start a new habit of mindfulness related to eating.

    Our overarching theme is to understand how people's minds work, so we can better help them develop practices of awareness. Down the road, we aim to have a new program about unwinding anxiety. I'd like to bake the Four Rubin Tendencies right into the fabric of that program.

    Gretchen: Why do you think the Four Tendencies model could help make your tool more effective?

    Jud: I'm a very pragmatic guy. As a clinician, I always want to figure out what's going to optimize my patients’ engagement in treatment.

    A while back, one of my research coordinators gave me your book Better Than Before, about habit change. That's where I was first introduced to your Four Tendencies framework. I was a little skeptical at first, reading it, because I thought, “Who is this person talking about habit change? She’s not a scientist.” But I started reading it, and I was won over. I thought, “Oh wow, she knows what she's talking about. She's actually talking about people's real tendencies.”

    As I read your book, I immediately started thinking, “I wonder if people in my Eat Right Now program fall into these four categories. If they do, there are some pragmatic things that we could actually put to the test immediately to try it out.”

    Gretchen: What are the aims of the people who participate in your Eat Right now program? Are they trying to lose weight, trying to manage diabetes…?

    Jud: I would say 100% of them are trying to change their relationship with eating, and probably 70-80% are trying to manage weight loss or lose a few more pounds.

    Gretchen: For health or appearance or both?

    Jud: Some people come because their doctors told them they need to lose weight or they need to manage their diabetes, but most folks find this program on their own, because they've been fed up with other weight-loss programs.

    Gretchen: So, when you read about the Four Tendencies, and you began to think, “I can see how this model would apply to my program,” what were some ideas that rang true to you? Where you thought, “Wow, I know that kind of person. I’ve run into that behavior before.”

    Jud: I recognized all four of the Tendencies, actually.

    Gretchen: Oh, really?

    Jud: Yes. To give a bit of background on the program: I moderate a weekly check-in group—the Eat Right Now program is based around this. We have mechanistically-based training on how habits are formed and how mindfulness helps people break their habits.

    We present the information in bite-sized pieces; people get daily videos and animations and in-the-moment exercises.

    In the program, ideally people complete one module per day, and they start learning how to regulate and to change their relationship to eating. As they go through the 28 days, they might then return to the beginning and start again to hone their skills, or they might take a bit more time for each module and take a couple of months.

    We’re finding from our evidence that people need about 3-6 months to start changing their behavior. At that point, some stay with the program. Some, they've got the skills and they don't need it anymore.
    The main thrust is through app-based training. There's also an online community where people can interact with each other, as well as a weekly live group that I run via Zoom where people can ask questions and interact.

    When I talk to people in our live group, I see the Four Tendencies in action. I think, “Oh, here's this person with that Tendency.” It’s a person who keeps asking a bunch of questions, or who has described why they’ve been struggling with the program. Now I’ve got names for them. For example, the “Obligers,” who meet other people’s outer expectations, but don’t take time to take care of themselves.

    People are even commenting in their online community journals about their Tendencies. I gave them your quiz, then wrote some very simple suggestions for the program based on what their responses were, and then asked people to comment on whether that was helpful or not. This was an early experiment to see if your Tendencies fit well with this population, and whether people could benefit.

    Gretchen: Let me pose an initial question before we dive deeper. People sometimes ask me, “Is it a bad idea to give people a label? To tell them, ‘You're an Obliger, I'm a Rebel.’”

    Do you think that this vocabulary somehow limits people’s sense of possibility for change? In my view, I think these kinds of “types” are helpful, because they may shine a spotlight on hidden patterns in behavior that we can then work to address. Because maybe you didn't understand why some approach wasn’t working well for you, and now you can try something that suits you better.

    That’s my view—but how do you view it? Is it okay that someone thinks, “Oh yeah, I'm an Obliger?”

    Jud: I think that’s absolutely okay.

    I think of an analogy from sports. Say somebody wants to become a sprinter. Genetically, some people have more fast-twitch muscle than slow-twitch muscle. For people like me who have slow-twitch muscle, we’re going to be more distance runners. If a distance runner really wants to be an Olympics-level sprinter, that person might get a biopsy to see what his or her fast-twitch potential is. Not knowing that fast-twitch potential isn’t going to suddenly make them an Olympics-level sprinter, but knowing it might help them say, “Why don't I focus on distance running?”

    Gretchen: Right. This information about yourself helps you direct your energies most effectively.

    Jud: Of course, it can do that only if it’s useful information. I think your Tendencies are actually useful. That's what really got me hooked.

    Gretchen: Excellent! That’s great to hear. Explain more about how you’ve seen the Tendencies appear in your work.

    Jud: For starters, I tallied up the number of people who answered your quiz. In our group, we’ve got about 8.9% Upholders, Questioners at 33.3%, Obligers at 37.8%, and Rebels at 20%.

    Gretchen: Interesting. Generally, Obliger is the biggest Tendency, and Questioners are right behind them. Rebel is the smallest Tendency, and the Upholder Tendency is only slightly larger. Because Upholders are less likely to need the kind of program you offer, it makes sense that you don’t have many Upholders.

    Jud: Because Upholders are going to meet outer and inner expectations fairly easily.

    Gretchen: Yes, a lot of different strategies work for Upholders. If people are coming to you saying, “I've tried this, I've tried that, nothing is working,” they’re unlikely to be Upholders. For the Upholders, probably the first thing they tried worked.

    Jud: That makes sense. That fits quite well. We’ve got some selection bias with the program, and that’s exactly what we would expect to see.

    Gretchen: You have a very high number of Rebels compared to the population, but again, that’s predictable, because many popular strategies that work for other people—such as monitoring, scheduling, and accountability—often don’t work for Rebels. If they really want to change their relationship to food, they’re more likely to struggle with conventional advice.

    If you have a disproportionate number of Rebels, you’d really want to take that into account. A lot of things that work for the other Tendencies don’t work for the Rebels. Your program has the challenge that one strategy could work really well for your Obligers but might actually be unhelpful for your Rebels.

    Jud: Right. Absolutely.

    Gretchen: How have you seen these differences play out?

    Jud: I’ll give you an example of the suggestions I gave to the people in the program based on your framework. We’ll update these as we learn more, but this is the first stab at it.
    First, we give participants a brief description of the Four Rubin Tendencies. I also encourage them to read your books. Then based on their Tendency, we give them a one-liner description of that Tendency and then suggest a tip.

    For Upholders, we say, "Watch out for taking on too much at once, etc." Then we give some suggestions on how to optimize their personality type to engage with the program. For instance, if you don’t make a to-do list of all the exercises and all the check-ins every day, don’t beat yourself up for not having done everything.

    Then I would give this little intrinsic motivation. Look to see where you’re aiming or angling for control instead of suffocating yourself by trying to force yourself to be in control. Simply notice when you feel like you’ve mastered something. We bring in a mindfulness practice around the motivators.

    For Questioners, the tip was to take time to clarify what elements of the Eat Right Now program make the most sense, and use those as the foundation upon which to build. The intrinsic motivator was to foster your curiosity, because that’s a key element of the eating program.

    For Obligers, a tip was to find a way to hold yourself externally accountable for using the program. That’s key for Obligers. The intrinsic motivation is “Working with others on a team feels good, no? Look to see where you can find the satisfaction of working with others as you go through this program.” Whether it’s the online community, finding a buddy or a family member, etc.

    For Rebels—this has really been a fascinating category for me. Because they resist all expectations, the tip is, “You're the decider. Find ways that you do the program on your own terms. Don’t try to tell yourself to do an exercise. Instead, see if you can find ways in which you decide when you’ll watch the module each day, and you decide when to do check-ins.” The intrinsic motivation would be find personal meaning in pursuing a goal that's difficult, but not impossible. Look for the challenge in the program each day to see if you can meet it.

    Gretchen: It’s fascinating how you put the Tendencies into action.

    Jud: I pulled a couple of their comments, and I’d be very curious to hear your responses.

    One Questioner said, “The key for me here as a Questioner was to realize that I had to see the evidence for myself.”

    Evidence is an element that I emphasized in the program as I wrote it. I'm a Questioner myself, so I wrote it from that perspective of, “Here’s the information, pay attention. Just look for yourself to see what works for you.”

    Gretchen: That message really appeals to Questioners. They’re attracted to customization. They like thinking, “This is what works for me. I’m doing this because this is the most efficient, sensible thing for me.”

    Jud: Exactly.

    Another Questioner wrote about how she hadn’t previously noticed the importance of curiosity for her, and she reported that the tip about fostering curiosity for intrinsic motivation has been really helpful. In the program, I’d shared a quotation from James Stevenson, who said, “Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery will.” She wrote, “This is certainly something that I don't think ever occurred to me before. I have a lot of anxiety. I’m noticing how that feels in my body. Seeing that curiosity relieves the symptoms.”

    I think fear and curiosity are like fear and faith. It’s hard to experience both deeply at the same time.

    Gretchen: That’s fascinating. I need to think through that idea. That is such an interesting and powerful observation: Curiosity can overcome anxiety.

    Jud: Yes.

    Gretchen: Again, that’s an appeal to the fundamental values of the Questioner.

    Jud: Exactly.

    Gretchen: To succeed, it helps if we go straight to the heart of that Tendency strength we have.

    Fascinating. What did Obligers have to say?

    Jud: This Obliger said, “I understand that as an Obliger, I need to be held accountable, otherwise the cards are stacked against me for success with this program. The problem is I don’t want any family members or friends knowing yet what I'm doing.” I think her concern is that that she doesn’t want people to know that she’s trying to lose weight.

    Gretchen: Yes, that's very common.

    Jud: She continued, “My other issue is getting myself to journal--whether in my own personal journal or through the community journal. I put that last on my list of things I need to do. Therefore, I rarely journal.” I think her idea is that she’s putting other people in front of herself.

    Gretchen: Hmmm, in my framework, I don’t characterize the issue in that way, as “putting others first.” That’s a value judgment. It also suggests that if others made no demands on her, she would readily meet her demands for herself, which in my observation doesn't happen for Obligers.

    For Obligers, it’s really all about that outer accountability. For Eat Right Now, you have the group around the program. Does she feel accountable to that group? I would say, “Forget about your family and friends, keep your privacy, rely on the Eat Right Now group for accountability.”

    Jud: That’s what we had encouraged. We’ve got this closed online community that’s very supportive. That’s something that I can suggest to her, absolutely.

    Gretchen: Relying on family can be tricky. Sometimes, too, it doesn’t feel like outer accountability, it feels like inner accountability, because they’re so close to you. This is especially true about spouses.

    Also, with family members, an Obliger can also start feeling very resentful, and that triggers Obliger-rebellion. The advantage of your program is that it comes with a built-in accountability group. I would suggest that engaging deeply with this group could be the key for this Obliger’s success.

    Also, about the journaling. She feels bad about that. Does the journaling really matter? What kind of journal is it, is it for writing down everything you eat, is it an emotional journal? Keeping a journal could be really burdensome for some people, I would imagine.

    Jud: It’s not a food-tracking journal. It’s a personal journal so somebody can track their own progress, and they can also get feedback from community moderators if they feel like they’re struggling. It’s more to record “Here's what I noticed today.”

    Gretchen: For what it’s worth, in my observation, health is an area where Obliger-rebellion very often sets in. It happens because no one has control of your body and what you do or don’t do with your body. In this area, the Obliger-rebellion affects only the Obliger themselves, so it’s a very easy place—and often a destructive place—for Obliger-rebellion to play out.

    To me, this Obliger sounds like she’s at the end of her rope, and feeling very resentful. It sounds like she’s thinking, “They’re asking too much of me. I can't do it.” That kind of feeling can lead to an Obliger-rebellion explosion.

    I would consider telling her, “The journal is meant to be a tool to help you. It sounds like it’s not working for you. So why don’t you just not worry about that? You’re doing a lot already. Stay with the group, let them help you stay on board. If the journal isn’t helpful, let that go. You’re already working hard.”

    Jud: That’s a great idea.

    Gretchen: If it's meant to be a tool that’s helpful, there’s no point in doing it if it’s not helpful. It sounds like it might be hampering her because it’s making her feel put upon and overwhelmed.

    Jud: Great.

    Here’s another comment from an Obliger.

    “Obliger, at your service! (I must have also a Questioner part in myself, though, because I ask lots of questions, and I need to decide first from myself if something is worthy that I “oblige” to it.) Still, I didn’t believe it at the beginning. But then, I started looking back at my previous weight loss experiences, and realized… it’s true. Many times I had failed because I had set a goal only to myself, and then inevitably at the first discomfort I had let all go. But I was ashamed of myself and of this addiction I had, that I didn’t want anybody to know! Now, I had just started Eat Right Now, and I wasn’t gonna let this end like the rest. So I gathered all the strength and courage I had (and believe me, I needed a lot!), and called the friend I trust the most, and told him about my condition and this program I started. And he was very comprehensive, and understanding, and told me I was doing the right thing, and encouraged me to keep going, and accepted what I asked him: which is that every day I need to call him and tell him what I did related to food (if I binged or not, what I ate, if I exercised, if I did the lessons, etc.); and that if for some reason I don’t tell, he needs to ask me specifically (cause I know myself too well, unfortunately). But all this, not in a hard way, to beat me if one day I couldn’t make it. I told him: in a gentle way, to keep me accountable, also when it doesn’t go so well, but knowing that I am learning, and that I’ll grow stronger. It’s been 5 days, I’ve been doing this every day, and it’s working!”

    Gretchen: What a terrific story. It’s great to hear that she’s been able to use the knowledge of her Obliger need for accountability to get such great success with the Eat Right Now Program.

    Her comment reminds of an important point: people often think, “Oh, I must be part Questioner because I love reasons, or I always ask ‘why,’ etc.”

    Remember, the Four Tendencies looks only at your response to expectations. That is, why do you act, why don’t you act. I have a friend who is a doctor, highly educated, intensely curious, inhales research, always probes for more information—and she’s an Obliger. Because she meets outer expectations and struggles to meet inner expectations.

    Like the commenter above. That person is 100% Obliger. One hundred percent.

    Jud: Here, I’ve got a comment from a Rebel, who said, “I’ve definitely been doing the program on my own terms, but realize this even more now. I might even pretend that someone told me not to do the program.”

    Gretchen: Yes! The Rebel spirit of resistance!

    Jud: I thought that was classic.

    Gretchen: Classic. You know, for the program you might consider messages that appeal to the Rebel desire to be free and unchained. Like, “You're not a slave to food. You don’t want to be addicted to sugar. Those big food companies can’t fool you with their crinkly packages and their big ad campaigns. You’re not going to fall for that. They can’t take your money.” Rebels want to be free.

    Jud: That's great.

    Gretchen: Sometimes a Rebel thinks, “Oh, I feel free because you’re telling me that I'm not supposed to eat fast food, but look, watch me do it.” The answer is, “Hah! You think you're free? Eating that fast food, you’re doing just what those fast food joints want you to do. They've got their hooks deep into you, you’re addicted to that stuff.”

    Jud: They’ve got you, right.

    Gretchen: So, judging from people’s early responses and comments, do you see that the Four Tendencies framework is striking a chord with them?

    Jud: This is very preliminary research, but it does seem that so far, everybody who answered the questions did very much identify with one Tendency or another. That piece seems pretty solid. Some of them have even started sub-categories of discussion topics, where one of the topics was “Any other Obligers out there?” They formed this little huddle where they could support each other and give each other tips as a way to help each other go through the program.

    We envision that in the future, we’ll give people your quiz right as they get on-boarded with any of our programs. Then ultimately down the road, the program would algorithmically shuffle the way they get the training or the timing etc. based on their personality type.

    But even at the beginning, the program can start by just giving them a brief synopsis and say, “This is the result of your Rubin Four Tendencies quiz. Here's a brief summary. We recommend that you use the program this way as you go through the program.”

    Maybe each week we check in with them automatically. For example, they might get a message, “Are you noticing an inclination to resist? You might try this tip, this tip, this tip.” Right at the beginning or somewhere early on, I’d encourage them to read your books so they can really dive into what their personality type is.

    Gretchen: So interesting!

    To change topics, one issue for anybody designing a program, framework, app or anything like that is that it’s very easy to overweight our own Tendency.

    Take Questioners. To them, it’s crucial to have clarity about why you want to do something. So often, when Questioners try to help others, they emphasize that it’s all about inner expectations, about getting very, very clear on what's important to you and why a certain action makes sense, and what you want, and the most efficient ways to achieve those aims. And this approach just doesn’t always work very well for the other Tendencies.

    You’re a Questioner. As you’ve worked with others, has knowing about the Four Tendencies helped you to think, “I would think about this challenge in this way, but someone else might think about it a different way or need a different set-up to succeed?”

    Jud: This is an area where my psychiatric training has been helpful. I try not to let my view dominate, and I really strive to put myself in someone’s shoes so we can approach it from their personality rather than the questioner’s.

    But I very much appreciate what you’re saying. We aim not to approach this challenge from my point of view, but as much as possible, from their point of view.

    Gretchen: It’s great that you have the training to help you see the world from many perspectives. So many people give the advice that would work for them, and they’re puzzled and frustrated—and often judgmental—when that advice doesn’t work for others. I’ve certainly struggled with that myself.

    Jud: That’s why we do the research, to see what works for whom, and why. Our next step is to systematically categorize these folks, ultimately even do a randomized study, where we can have some people get the tips and suggestions based on their Tendency, while others go through the program as usual. We can see how well those Tendency-specific suggestions bolster simple things like adherence to the program.

    Gretchen: For what you’re doing, and what so many other people are trying to do, we need a simple, cost-effective tool to communicate more effectively. For eating more healthfully, for taking medication consistently, so many other things.

    To be effective, such a tool would need to be easy to use, widely applicable, and something that doesn’t require extensive training to understand or implement. I’ve got to say, I think my Four Tendencies framework is a tool like that. For one thing, once you know the Four Tendencies, they’re very easy to spot. Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels look quite different from each other, and that it's easy to tell one person’s Tendency from the other.

    For instance, as you were reading those comments from your participants, if you’d read a comment and asked me to guess the commenter’s Tendency, I think I would have guessed correctly each time. It’s obvious that these folks have different perspectives.

    It was fascinating to hear all the ways you suggested that a person might adapt the recommendations for your program to the Tendencies. It’s not as if you had to develop a gigantic apparatus within your program to suit each Tendency. It’s as simple as some tweaking of messaging, and reminding people of how they can think about the program in their own ways.

    Do you feel that in your program, it’s pretty easy to see, “I can see why different approaches work better for different people?”

    Jud: Yes. It’s about getting information to them in a way that’s accessible and reminding of that information until they have internalized it. For example, with the Rebels, first they take the quiz so they know that they’re Rebels. Now they have that information, and the program can take that into account.

    It’s awareness training. Everybody knows how to be aware to some degree, and everybody can improve at being aware to a degree as well.

    The question is: “How do we personalize medicine?” I think your Four Tendencies framework is a great way to personalize a training delivery: “Let's do the quiz, figure out your Tendency, give you that information, and then help you use that information so that you can utilize the available training in a way that’s personalized for you.”

    This is really personalizing medicine in a broad scale, if we think of medicine including behavioral training, which we certainly do these days.

    Gretchen: I was struck by an interesting lesson about Duolingo, the language-learning app. Several Rebels have told me when the app sends reminders and notifications, these messages made them turn away from the app. Obligers do well with that kind of accountability and monitoring, but Rebels think, “Even though I want to learn Italian, I refuse to do what this app is telling me to do.” Of course, the solution for a Rebel is to turn off those notifications. This is an important thing to know about yourself, as you’re setting up the app: Do you want to get notifications, or not? What would be more helpful to you?

    I think many people assume, “Notifications are great. Accountability is good.” Not for everyone.

    Jud: You’ve just described personalized training beautifully. It doesn’t take that much to do it. It’s about knowing what the Tendency is and then knowing the pieces that you want to tweak. For example, with our program, we have notifications. People can turn on or off the notifications. If they’re a Rebel, they can set the notifications for whenever they want. They’re in control. They’re the decider.

    Gretchen: You might even point that out to them: “For this Tendency, we’ve found that notifications are very helpful. We’ve found that maybe for this Tendency, notifications may not be useful. Ponder that, then set yourself up accordingly.”

    Jud: Right.

    Gretchen: For a Questioner, you could say, “Experiment. You could try it for a couple weeks on, a couple weeks off. See what works. Customize it for you. You might find that it’s effective.” Then they think, “Yes, I'm doing it in the way that’s most effective for me.”

    Jud: I’m imagining the seat position in a new car. Car companies set the standard seat position based on average driver height, and when you buy the car, you use the seat controls to adjust the seat to suit your own individual body type. Using the Four Tendencies works the same way.

    Gretchen: I think that is a perfect analogy. When the car comes off the assembly line, it’s not going to be customized for you, it has to be something that works for everybody. In the same way, your Eat Right Now program encompasses all Tendencies, so each individual has to customize it. “This program includes a body of tools, and we’ll customize the program for you. That’s just part of the process, because of course you’re not going to be able to drive the car comfortably until you move the seat around. Maybe you’re going to experiment. Maybe you’ll try the seat a little closer, or a little further away, until you find what suits you.”

    We know the people who are 6’6 are not going to want a seat adjusted the same way as for the person who’s 5’2. When we know someone’s body type, we can predict many of the adjustments that will make that seat more comfortable. Same thing with the Four Tendencies. When we know your personality type, we can predict what tools will help you succeed.

    Jud: It works extremely well when you just tweak it a little bit.

    Gretchen: I think this tweaking may be particularly important for Obligers. Obligers feel a lot of frustration because they’re able to meet expectations for others, but not for themselves. They put a lot of emotions around it. “I'm sacrificing for others. I always put the client/patient/customer first. I can always take time for other people, but I can’t take time for myself. I have low self-esteem.” They have a lot of value judgements, to which I say, “No, let all that judgment fall away. It’s really just about accountability.”

    If you’re an Obliger, the people around you may say, “If you keep talking about something and saying it’s important to you, why can’t you follow through? Why don’t you keep your promises to yourself? Why did you say ‘yes’ if you didn’t want to do it?” That’s very judgmental. With the Four Tendencies, there’s less judgment, it’s just, “This is a person who needs outer accountability. Let’s give this person the outer accountability they need, and then they’ll be fine. They just need that system in place.”

    Jud: Right. Helping them see the difference between the judging versus just holding themselves accountable could be huge for somebody.

    Gretchen: Yes. And by the way, the Obliger Tendency is the Tendency that includes the largest number of people. So, to Obligers, I always say, “Lots of people are exactly like you! There’s nothing wrong with you, or exceptional about you. This is a common problem. There’s no shame or weakness in it, you just have to know how to tackle it.”

    Jud: That makes a lot of sense.

    Gretchen: It’s interesting that you have a lot of Questioners in your program. Do people often ask for a lot of data and research justifications?

    Jud: To some degree, but we’ve also built the program with those explanations included. Probably as a Questioner myself, I’ve built those answers to those questions right into the program.

    Gretchen: Interesting. They get their questions answered as they go.

    Jud: I say, “You might be wondering why we’re doing this today. This is why.”

    Gretchen: That’s brilliant. That way they feel like they have all the information that they need. They’re not asked to do anything arbitrarily; every suggestion is justified by sound reasons.

    Jud: Right.

    6196189096 Jud, it has been fascinating to hear how you’re applying the Four Tendencies framework to your Eat Right Now program. It’s so exciting to think that my personality profiles could help people find success in a challenging area of their life.

    As your research and experimentation continues, I can’t wait to hear what you learn.

    Jud: Great to talk to you. I look forward to more conversations.

    Gretchen: Onward and upward!

    If you'd like to read my interview with Jud Brewer, about his own habits and happiness, it's here.

     

    Judson Brewer, MD PhD, is one of the leading minds in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery.” He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, trained US Olympic coaches, and his TED talk has received eight million views. A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments, such as www.goeatrightnow.com, www.cravingtoquit.com. He founded Claritas MindSciences to move his discoveries of clinical evidence behind mindfulness for eating, smoking and other behavior change into the marketplace. He is the author of The Craving Mind: from Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love -- Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:27:09 on 2017/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: , eating, , , , , , rebel,   

    How a Health Coach Harnessed Her Rebel Tendency to Lose 40 Pounds and Boost Her Energy. 


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    I love hearing how people put the Four Tendencies framework to work — whether by using knowledge of their Tendency to improve their own lives, or to work more effectively with other people.

    Recently, I got an email from Nagina Abdullah, health coach and founder of MasalaBody.com. She listens to the “Happier” podcast, and she told me about how she was able to eat more healthfully, lose weight, and boost her energy by harnessing the strengths of her Rebel Tendency.

    This story was particularly interesting to me, because — as Rebels themselves often point out — the strategies that work for other Tendencies often don’t work for Rebels.

    So I was fascinated to hear her story, and she wrote an account of it to share — which is below, with my comments in brackets.

    Nagina writes:

    When I was a kid, I got sent to the principal’s office on a weekly basis. While my teachers would ask the students to be quiet and obedient, I would end up in laughing fits and get sent to the principals’ office to get disciplined.

    I struggled with following expectations for my whole life. As a child, I resisted my teachers’ rules. As I got older, I resisted being healthier.

    See, I love food. I love sweets, fried food, food trucks, BBQs – everything that isn’t good for my waistline. I ALSO resist following the rules of having to be strict to get healthy.

    My tendencies finally made sense when I took Gretchen’s Four Tendencies Quiz. I wanted to see if I was an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel.

    I wasn’t surprised when I scored as a “Rebel.” Rebels resist outer and inner expectations.

    After decades of being addicted to sugar and feeling unable to control my cravings, I embraced my Rebel tendencies. As result, I lost 40 pounds, skyrocketed my energy and started wearing the clothes I had dreamed of wearing.

    Before and after - Story of a Rebel mom

    The “Healthy Rules” I Did Not Want to Follow

    After having two kids and working 60+ hour weeks, I felt exhausted and overweight, more than ever before. I needed to get healthier to feel better and have more energy for my kids.

    I didn’t want to deprive myself of food I loved and I didn’t have time to spend hours in the gym.

    Here are the rules to getting healthier I would regularly hear:

    • “You have to count calories, points, crumbs, licks, and drops”
    • “You must exercise 3+ days a week”
    • “No eating cupcakes, donuts, and everything else you love”

    Even though I wanted to get healthier, I resisted restrictive rules like these.

    This led to a lot of internal frustration, yo-yo dieting, announcing “It isn’t worth it!” and “Why is this so hard for ME?” [Rebels often get frustrated when they try to use the same techniques that work for other Tendencies.]

    Even if I wanted to be healthier, I couldn’t even follow my OWN rules.  [Rebels resist outer and inner expectations.]

    Would I ever change my habits to get healthier when I kept rebelling against the rules?

    I finally got my dream body when (only when) I broke the rules.

    Here’s how I broke the rules to lose 40 pounds and keep it off for now over six years.

    Above All I Wanted to Be a “Rebel Mom”

    Being a mom is the greatest gift, but I feared I would be overweight, exhausted and put myself last in the name of my kids, which is the stereotype of a mom I held.

    That’s when I decided to be a REBEL MOM and break through the stereotype.

    Here’s my vision of being the mom I wanted to be:

    • Feel confident in a bathing suit so I could swim and play in the sand with my kids
    • Run 5k’s with my kids and set healthy examples for them
    • Feel sexy around my husband
    • Go rollerblading, biking, ice skating, roller skating, skiing, snowboarding and more with my family and feel strong and agile as I am doing it

     

    Having a goal of a “Rebel Mom” inspired me to be healthier.  [Rebels want to express their identity; they want to live in accordance with their authentic self; they can do anything they choose to do, in order to be the kind of person they choose to be.]

    3 Rules I Broke to Get My Dream Body

    I started by eating healthy, because I found that it is the most impactful thing to do. But I needed to make eating healthy enjoyable and realistic for my life and family, and that’s when I realized there were three rules I had to break. [Rebels do well to focus on enjoyment. They also often enjoy breaking rules or achieving aims in unconventional ways.]

    Rule 1: “You need to eat healthy every day to lose weight.”

    How I break Rule 1:

    I have one “Cheat Day” a week where I eat everything I want, so I always get a “break” from the rules and have something to look forward to. A Cheat Day is KEY to losing weight if you hate following those strict diet rules. [As an Upholder and an Abstainer and a very low-carb eater, this would not work for me — but it works for Nagina.]

    Rule 2: “You have to eat boring food in tiny portions so you feel like you are starving to lose even 5 pounds.”

    How I break Rule 2:

    Instead of making my food flavorful with heavy sauces and creams, I use spices and herbs that pack in the flavor and have natural health benefits (like anti-inflammation and reduced water retention). I feel like I’m “cheating” and indulging even though I’m actually eating healthy.

    I love to add a pinch of cinnamon (lowers your blood sugar) in my morning coffee because it tastes so delicious. [Again, the focus on pleasure and choice.]

    Rule 3: “You are “supposed” to eat healthy.”

    How I break Rule 3:

    Remember the last time you were at an airport? Temptations at every turn, with most people indulging in them? It’s HARDER to eat healthy than not!

    As a result of eating healthy, I feel in control of myself, and feel like I’m rebelling against the “norms” of society. [Rebels often benefit from reminding themselves, “I’m not going to be trapped by a sugar addiction. These big companies can’t control me with their fancy marketing campaigns and crinkly packages. I’m strong, they can’t make me eat their junk.” Rebels also often love a challenge: “Most people can’t resist the goodies in an airport, mall, or store, but for me, it’s not a problem.”]

     What you can do to get healthier:

    If you resist outer and/or inner expectations (Rebels resist both, and Questioners and Obligers resist one or the other), and/or you have found it challenging to get healthier, try to BREAK some of the traditional rules by using one of the methods that worked for me:

    1. What’s a stereotype you would break by getting healthier? Embrace that and make it your goal.
    2. Include one cheat day a week and eat whatever you want on those days, while staying healthy on the other days. [Very effective for some people! Not effective for others! Know yourself.]
    3. Add herbs and spices to your foods to make it taste indulgent without the extra calories.
    4. Resist the unhealthy temptations around you and feel in control of yourself.

    To help you, I have a special gift for Gretchen Rubin readers. I would like to send you my three spiced late-night snacks to banish your sugar cravings forever AND a bonus recipe e-book, “7 Spicy Recipes to Help You Lose Your First 7 Pounds.” You can get these here.


    What I love about Nagina’s account is how carefully she examined what works for her, what she wants, and figured out her own way to get there.

    By embracing her Rebel Tendency, she was able to get the benefit of its enormous strengths. By contrast, when Rebels think they “should” be able to use techniques like to-do lists, scheduling, monitoring, or accountability, they often get very frustrated with themselves.

    There’s no one “right” way, no one “best” way — only what works for you.

    The post How a Health Coach Harnessed Her Rebel Tendency to Lose 40 Pounds and Boost Her Energy. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 18:11:20 on 2017/06/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , eating, , , , ,   

    Podcast 122: Tackle a “Power Day,” People Who Question Your Good Habits, and What’s Your Advice about College-Bound Children? 


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    Update: The September book tour for The Four Tendencies is set! I’ll be going to New York City (obviously), Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.  I hope to see you there — please come, bring friends. Info is here.

    Try This at Home: Tackle a “Power Day.” In episode 6, we discussed a “Power Hour.”

    Are you wondering if you’re a Rebel? Take the quiz here to see if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

    Happiness Hack: Jen explains why having a two-person book group has made her happy. (I love one of their reading choices, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.)

     Happiness Stumbling Block: Kelly’s in-laws discourage her from eating the way she likes to eat.

    I mention several strategies of habit change from my book Better Than Before.

    If you’d like to know what a low-carb zealot like me eats every day, here’s the post.

    Listener Question: This week, I have a question for listeners. My daughter Eliza is starting college in the fall, and I would love insights, suggestions, experiences, and advice about dealing with a child going off to college. This is a big transition, so I would love to hear people’s ideas.

    Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth gives herself a demerit for lamenting the end of the first grade for Jack.

    Gretchen’s Gold Star: How I love the waterfall in the ravine of the North Woods of Central Park.

    Two Resources:

    1. Follow me on LinkedIn — just go to happiercast.com/linkedin.

    2. In just 21 days, you really can take steps to make your life happier—without spending a lot of time, energy, or money. I’ve created four premium 21 Day Happiness Projects for you to follow, if you want to tackle one of these common happiness challenges. Or buy the Omnibus, to get them all. Find out more by clicking on the links below.

     

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out StitchFix, an online personal styling service with real stylists who handpick clothing for you — your taste, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget. Sign up at StitchFix.com.

     

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    How to Subscribe

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    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 122: Tackle a “Power Day,” People Who Question Your Good Habits, and What’s Your Advice about College-Bound Children? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 10:00:16 on 2017/03/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , eating, , , , , , , , Paleo, Robb Wolf,   

    “I Wish My 18-Year-Old Self Had Realized That Incrementalism Is ‘OK.’” 


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    Robb Wolf

    Interview: Robb Wolf.

    I often write about how I eat a low-carb, high-fat diet. As I describe in Better Than Before, I experienced the “Strategy of the Lightning Bolt” after reading Gary Taubes’s book Why We Get Fat, which convinced me of the health benefits of avoiding carbohydrates — I changed practically everything about the way I ate, overnight, after reading that book. (If you’d like to listen to the podcast interview with Gary Taubes, about his new book The Case Against Sugar, it’s here.)

    Because of my interest in eating low carb, I got to know Robb Wolf. Robb comes at the issues of diet, eating, and nutrition from the Paleo perspective. It’s a different philosophy of eating, but in the end, we eat mostly the same way, so it’s interesting for me to hear about it.

    Robb has a popular podcast, The Paleo Solution, and he has new book that just hit the shelves called Wired to Eat: Turn Off the Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods that Work for You.

    Wired to Eat emphasizes that it’s important to figure out how to eat in the way that works for you. It also discusses the importance of things like sleep and movement in trying to eat more healthfully.

    As I’ve written and spoken to people about their happiness and habits, the issue of “wanting to eat healthier” comes up again and again as a habit that people struggle with; they’d know they’d be happier and healthier if they ate healthier, but they find it tough. (Sound familiar?)

    So I was curious to hear what Robb had to say.

    Gretchen: You’ve done fascinating research. What’s the most significant thing you’ve concluded on the subject of habits?

    Robb: This may seem a bit far afield to your readers but one of the best insights into habits and human behavior came to me when I started looking at this topic from the perspective of evolutionary biology. If we think about the environment that forged our genetics, we can get a sense of some important “hard wiring” that may seem to defy logic in the modern world. Let’s consider healthy eating as an example. It’s easy to vilify overeating, to make this tendency some kind of character flaw, but in our not so distant past it made good sense to eat anything one could find and then to REST. All organisms that move to eat follow a process called “Optimum Foraging Strategy” which is just a fancy way of looking at the energy accounting an organism must maintain to go on living. If a given critter (in this case let’s say us) consistently burns more energy than it finds in the environment…it dies. So, humans are literally wired to “eat more, move less.” This is a completely normal and even healthy state of affairs when living in an ancestral environment, but with modern culture and technology we can order a nearly infinite variety of foods to our door, and barely expend any energy at all. It is now incredibly easy to overeat and we experience a host of health problems as a consequence. This evolutionary biology perspective can help with habits in that if we are not starting a process from a perspective of guilt or shame (which is common when folks are contemplating diet and lifestyle changes) we stand a much better chance of making that process of change stick.

    What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?

    When I start feeling cranky and like life is working against me I have found that a few minutes of gratitude goes a long way towards making me feel better. I do this every night before bed and it is incredibly calming and also keeps me grounded in all the good things I have in my life.

    What’s something you know now about forming healthy habits that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Something I wish my 18-year-old self had been aware of is that incrementalism is “ok.” For much of my life I tackled things with a perfectionist attitude and what this did is set me up for failure in anything that I was not inherently good at. If I struggled a bit at something I’d get self-conscious and default back to those things I’m good at. Not a great way to add new habits and skills to one’s life!

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    I’m pretty strongly a Questioner. I love seeking out information from folks that are better versed in a topic than I am but I tend to run their advice or teaching through the following filter: Does it make sense? When I implement the recommendations, does the process work? I rarely, if ever, dismiss something out of hand, but I will stress-test the concept and see if it holds up to scrutiny. I’m also always looking for ways to improve upon the original teaching or advice.

    The post “I Wish My 18-Year-Old Self Had Realized That Incrementalism Is ‘OK.’” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:35:54 on 2017/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , eating, , , , , , low-carb, , moment, , , wonder   

    Podcast 105: Leave on High Note, Childlike Wonder vs. Adultlike Wonder–and What I Eat Every Day. 


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    It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    Update: In response to our discussion in episode 102, listeners told us the different “missing puzzle pieces” they’d managed to find.

    Try This at Home: Leave on a high note.

    Happiness Hack: The Metropolitan Museum has introduced an extraordinary new resource: for artworks that are in the public domain, the Met makes them freely available for unrestricted use (including commercial use). Learn more and browse here!

    Happiness Stumbling Block: What appeals to you more: childlike wonder, or adultlike wonder?

    Listener Questioner: Fiona asks, “Gretchen, what do you eat every day?’

    I talk about the fact that I’m an “Abstainer” — are you an Abstainer or a Moderator?

    As I write about in Better Than Before, I was inspired to quit sugar after reading Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat. If you’d like to read my interview with Gary Taubes about his new book, The Case Against Sugar, request it here.

    Demerit: I hate the theme of unjust accusation in books, movies, plays, and TV shows — but I unjustly accused my family of ignoring the groceries.

    Gold Star: Elizabeth went to two doctors’ appointments in one day.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

    Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

    Visit Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 15% off your first Framebridge order. Shipping is free.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 105: Leave on High Note, Childlike Wonder vs. Adultlike Wonder–and What I Eat Every Day. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:56:43 on 2017/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: eating, Gary Taubes, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Podcast 98: Have a Quest, an Interview with Gary Taubes about the Case Against Sugar, and Why I Love My Uniqlo Vest. 


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    uniqlovest

    It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    We’re coming up on our Very VERY Special Episode — Episode 100. Hard to believe. For this episode, send us questions about anything, whether related to happiness or not. Email us or call us at 774-277-9336.

    Also, to start the new year in a happier way, we’re doing a fun project on Instagram. Every day, for the month of January, Elizabeth and I are posting a photo on Instagram of something that makes us happier (giving us a boost, helping us stick to good habits, reminding us to feel grateful, etc.).  Join in! Use the hashtag #Happier2017 and tag us — I’m @gretchenrubin and Elizabeth is @lizcraft. It has been so fun to see the photos people are posting.

    Try This at Home: Have a quest (which is different from having a mission, which is slightly different).

    1pixbluebirdchristmastreeHere’s my bluebird tree, the result of my mother’s quest to find bluebird ornaments for my little tree.

    Happiness Hack: How I love my Uniqlo vest! Light, easy to pack, warm, fits under my clothes, and has a vertical pocket that securely holds my phone. I wear it every day, throughout the winter. Uniqlo isn’t an advertiser; I just love my vest so much.

    Interview: Acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes talks about his new book, The Case Against Sugar. In my book about habit change, Better Than Before, I write about the “Strategy of the Lightning Bolt” and how reading Gary’s book Why We Get Fat utterly changed my eating habits, overnight.

    If you want to read my interview with Gary about his new book about sugar, get it here. If you want to read more about Abstainers vs. Moderators, I post about it here. I’m an Abstainer, 100%, and realizing this aspect of my nature has been a huge relief to me.

    Demerit: I give myself a demerit for dropping all my forms of work to do nothing but focus on the edits on my draft of The Four Tendencies book.  To hear when The Four Tendencies becomes available, sign up here.

    Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to Eliza for dealing with the college application process.

    flowercraftolsen

    Elizabeth’s young-adult romance Flower just hit the shelves! She and Shea Olsen have written a novel that combines love, temptation, secrets, ambition, celebrity…delicious.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

    Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

    Check out BlueApron.comWish you cooked more? Get all the delicious, fresh ingredients you need to make great meals, delivered to your front door. Check out BlueApron.com/happier to get your first three meals free.

    1pix

    1pix

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 98: Have a Quest, an Interview with Gary Taubes about the Case Against Sugar, and Why I Love My Uniqlo Vest. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:35:37 on 2016/11/22 Permalink
    Tags: , eating, , festive, , , , , , , Thankgiving, ,   

    Want to Eat Healthier at the Thanksgiving Feast? Watch Out for These 10 Types of Loopholes. 


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    Thanksgiving Turkey

    As I was working on Better Than Before, I enjoyed writing every single chapter. In the book, I identify the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits, and each strategy is powerful and fascinating to study.

    But I have to admit, I particularly enjoyed writing the chapter on the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting, because the loopholes are so ingenious and so funny. I loved spotting and collecting loopholes.

    Now, why should we worry about loophole-spotting? Because when we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, to justify breaking a good habit.

    However, if we spot these  loopholes, we can  reject them.

    Holidays are a time when many of us face challenges to the good habits we want to maintain — and because holidays tend to involve lots of food and drink, those habits need special attention at that time.

    To help you recognize loopholes you might be invoking, here’s a list of some popular ones that are often heard around Thanksgiving:

    1. False choice loophole

    “I can’t do this, because I’m so busy doing that.” “I can’t go for my usual 20 minute walk, because I have to get ready for guests.”

    2. Moral licensing loophole 

    “I’ve been so good, it’s okay for me to do this.” “I’ve been eating so healthfully, it’s okay for me to eat anything I want today.” Or conversely…

    3. Tomorrow loophole

    “It’s okay to skip today, because I’m going to do this tomorrow.” “It’s okay for me to drink as much as I want today, because starting tomorrow, I’m not going to drink for six months.”

    4. Lack of control loophole

    “I can’t help myself.” “A considerate host wouldn’t have served something so tempting.”

    5. Planning to fail loophole

    “I’ll just stand here right next to the dessert table, because the other room is so crowded.”

    6. “This doesn’t count” loophole

    “It’s Thanksgiving!” “We’re out of town!”

    7. Questionable assumption loophole

    “These cookies are healthy. Look, they’re gluten-free.”

    8. Concern for others loophole

    “If I don’t drink wine with dinner, other people will feel uncomfortable.” “I have to eat seconds and thirds of everything, or my host will feel insulted.”

    9. Fake self-actualization loophole

    “You only live once!” “I have to do this now, or miss out forever.”

    10. One-coin loophole

    “What difference will one meal make, over the course of a lifetime?”

    Of course, sometimes we do want to break a habit—say, as part of a celebration. A very effective safeguard for that situation is the planned exception, which protects us against impulsive decisions. We decide in advance how we want to behave.

    We’re adults, we make the rules for ourselves, and we can mindfully choose to make an exception to a usual habit by planning that exception in advance. That’s different from saying, “Yay, this loophole means that I can break my habit, I’m off the hook.” We’re never off the hook. Everything counts.

    One good question is to ask yourself, “How will I feel about this later? Will I think, ‘I’m really glad I had a piece of my grandmother’s famous pie. I only get that once a year, and I’d hate to miss it.’ Or will I think, ‘Shoot, I’d been on such a roll at cutting out sugar, and I blew it to eat a piece of my grandmother’s pie, which I don’t even like.’”

    What are some of your favorite loopholes?

    #1 is my personal favorite. Have you found any good ways to avoid invoking them?

    Better Than Before includes many more examples of loopholes, and how to avoid using them. Gosh they’re funny. To learn more about Better Than Before, you can…

    The post Want to Eat Healthier at the Thanksgiving Feast? Watch Out for These 10 Types of Loopholes. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:28:33 on 2016/11/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , eating, , , , , , , , , , , , relatives, , ,   

    7 Tips for Having a Happy Thanksgiving with Your Difficult Relatives. 


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    thanksgivingfood

    In the United States, Thanksgiving is approaching.

    For many people, Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday; for many people, Thanksgiving is a dreaded holiday. One factor that can make it tough is spending time with difficult relatives. Here are some strategies for keeping Thanksgiving dinner — or any holiday gathering, at any time of the year — pleasant:

    1. Before you join the group, spend a few minutes thinking about how you want to behave. Don’t just react in the moment; consider how you want to act — in every way from how you’re going to talk to Uncle Bob to how much dessert you’re going to eat.  This is using the Strategy of Safeguards: plan ahead, anticipate challenges, think about what you want.

    2. Remember that topics that seem innocuous to you might upset someone else. You may think you’re showing a polite interest, but some questions will rub a person the wrong way: “So do you have a boyfriend yet?” “When are you two going to get married/start a family?” “Didn’t you give up smoking?” “Can you afford that?” “When are you going to get a real job?” Show an interest with more open-ended questions, like “What are you up to these days?” or “What’s keeping you busy?” Also…

    3. Avoid strife. Some families enjoy arguing passionately; however, most don’t handle arguments very well. If you know Uncle Bob’s views on the recent election are going to drive you crazy, don’t bring it up! And if he brings it up, you don’t have to engage. Try to make a joke of it, and say something like, “Let’s agree to disagree,” “Let’s not talk about that, and give the rest of the family something to be thankful for,” etc. There is absolutely a time and a place for political debate, but Thanksgiving may not be the best time for that.

    4. Play your part in the tradition. For some people, traditions are very, very important; for others, no. You may feel irritated by your brother’s insistence on having exactly the same food every Thanksgiving, or by your mother’s extreme reaction to the possibility that you might not come home for the day. Try to be patient and play your part. In the long run, traditions and rituals tend to help sustain happiness and family bonds. On the other hand, if you’re the one who wants everything to be perfect, try to ease up on yourself and everyone else, so that you can enjoy the day, whatever happens.

    5. Don’t drink much alcohol. It can seem festive and fun to fill up your glass, but it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re drinking. Alcohol makes some people feel merry, but it also makes some people feel combative, or self-pitying, or lowers their inhibitions in a destructive way. I basically had to give up drinking because alcohol makes me so belligerent.

    6. Don’t stuff yourself. Research shows that in fact, most people add just one pound during the holidays – but then they never lose it. You’ll have more fun if you’re not feeling uncomfortably full and then guilty about having eaten too much. Think about strategies for staying in control of holiday eating; feeling bad about having eaten too much can make you feel irritable and angry, which spills over into your interactions with other people.

    Note on #5 and #6 — on the other hand, if people tell you, “No more wine for me, thanks,” or “I’m going to skip dessert tonight,” don’t press them to partake. Don’t lead them into temptation, if they’re trying to eat or drink in a way that’s healthy for them. It can feel loving and festive to urge people to indulge, but they’ll be happier in the long run if they do what’s right for them.

    7. Remember it’s THANKSGIVING. Be thankful that you get to cook, or that you don’t have to cook. Be thankful that you get to travel, or that you don’t have to travel. Be thankful for your family or your friends. Find something. Studies show that gratitude is a major happiness booster.

    Wait, you might be thinking, these strategies don’t tell you how to deal with your difficult relatives — they tell you how to behave yourself. Well, guess what! You can’t do anything to change what your difficult relatives are going to do; you can only change yourself.

    Also, in many situations, people behave a difficult way in reaction to something else. So you may think your niece flies off the handle without any reason, but she’s furious because she thinks you’re needling her about her appearance. If you behave differently, she will too.

    Have you found any helpful strategies for dealing with a difficult holiday situation? What more would you add?

    The post 7 Tips for Having a Happy Thanksgiving with Your Difficult Relatives. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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