Gretchen Rubin | Mastering Happiness (Episode 388)

How you successfully create a habit may not work for someone else, and vice versa.

“Habits are a good servant and a bad master.” -Gretchen Rubin

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why does the habit of making your bed matter?
  • Is there a link between happiness and minimalism?
  • What’s the biggest myth of all according to Gretchen?
  • What’s the strategy of other people and why is it so crucial?
  • How to know if you are an abstainer or a moderator.
  • And so much more…


If you’ve tried to change habits in the past but haven’t succeeded, you’ll want to hear what today’s guest has to say on the matter. Gretchen Rubin is the three-time best-selling author who has made a study of happiness and habits.

We talk about her books, including her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Everyday Life, and the finer points of habit-formation and happiness  on episode 388 of The Art of Charm.

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More About This Show:

Invariably, Gretchen Rubin finds herself discussing habits with the people she meets; it’s one of her favorite subjects. On today’s episode you’ll hear simple and effective habits to help you create a calmer, more orderly home. You’ll also hear the strategy of the treat and loopholes we sometimes use to justify breaking a good habit.

A simple and effective way to create a calmer, more orderly home is to use the one-minute rule: if it takes a minute or less, do it right away! When you get home, put your jacket away instead of dropping it wherever it lands. Your home will feel orderly and so will your mind.

When it comes to forming everyday habits one effective strategy she recommends is the strategy of the treat. Choose a treat that’s good for you and healthy and adds to your life, like buying new music every week if you’re a music lover or lighting candles in your home.

The treat needs to be something you do for yourself consistently, think of it as a way to refortify and take care of yourself rather than a reward you have to obtain. If you are taking care of yourself and staying restored you will be more likely to maintain other healthy habits because good treats bolster your will power and self-discipline.

Gretchen also highlights a few of the loopholes we use to get out of “being good,” these are rationalizations we make in the moment to break a healthy habit. There are over twenty she talks about in her book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Life, but one we discuss today is the self-actualization loophole.

This is where the rationalization that it’s okay to have this piece of cake because we need to enjoy life or we tell ourselves “you only live once.” If you’re using that train of the thought ask yourself how you’ll feel about your decision later: will you feel good or will you not even remember that piece of cake? If you’ll feel good and it will create a positive memory for you, then go for it. If it won’t, then don’t do it.

We also talk about how to frame your treats, why we can’t always create habits (even the fun ones!) and the power of accountability in creating last change. Thanks to Gretchen for sharing her wisdom and special thanks to you for being here! We’ll see you next time on The Art of Charm.


Resources from this episode:

Gretchen Rubin’s website
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1166 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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