This week’s conversation is with author Gretchen Rubin on happiness, human nature, and habits.

Gretchen has spent the past decade researching and writing about happiness and is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before, and The Happiness Project.

I wanted to talk to Gretchen because happiness is something that every one of us seems to be searching for yet some of us have trouble finding.

When you ask people on the street or in a casual conversation, “What are you looking for in life? What does it all come down to?” Many people say happiness.

What’s been interesting is that on this podcast, many of the interesting thinkers and doers have not said happiness. They are looking for something different than that.

I wanted to learn from Gretchen why and how happiness is something that she’s spent her life trying to understand.

In this conversation, we have a great discussion on how happiness and habits are linked.

Gretchen came up with her own personality framework – the idea being that each of us fits into one of four characteristics that she calls the four tendencies.

These tendencies explain the reasons behind why we do what we do, based on how different people respond to expectations.

We even touch on my own tendencies and she’s spot on.

When we get to that part of the conversation, definitely take a moment to think about where you and others that you are close to, fit on the scale.

Gretchen mentions that, “What’s interesting is that if you don’t understand the tendencies, you might be sabotaging someone else with your advice, even if you have the best intentions.” And this is one of the reasons why I don’t like giving advice.

I hope this conversation teaches you a little bit more about yourself and what it really means to be happy.

If you’re feeling like you want to be happier or you’re feeling like your burdened by negative emotions, what could you do tomorrow? What would you actually physically, concretely do tomorrow that might address that?”

In This Episode:

  • Why it’s important to understand people are multi dimensional
  • How she defines happiness
  • How we deal with difficult emotions
  • Why negative emotions can be helpful
  • How she approaches feeling burdened by negative emotions
  • Her core principles, the four tendencies framework for how people respond to expectations
  • How someone with a different tendency would approach things like a New Years Resolution or eating healthier
  • What happens if you don’t understand someone’s tendencies
  • Which tendencies match up most commonly in a relationship
  • The relationship between obliges and co-dependency
  • What she wishes for others to understand about happiness
  • Her thoughts on Mastery



“I don’t think what we want from life is a life where we’re at a 10 on the 1-10 scale in happiness. That’s not realistic and it wouldn’t even be a good life. I don’t think that’s what anyones aiming for.” “What’s interesting is that if you don’t understand the tendencies, you might be sabotaging someone else with your advice, even if you have the best intentions.”

Her philosophy: “My first personal commandment is to be Gretchen.”

“You can build a happy life only on the foundation of your own nature, your own values, your own interests.” “Just because something’s fun for someone else or makes them happy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make you happy so you always have to know yourself.”





Gretchen’s Quiz to determine your tendency.. Take it here!


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Author |

Gretchen is a four-time New York Times bestselling authorpodcaster, and speaker, creator of the Four Tendencies framework, exploring happiness and good habits.