Reflect on your year with The Happiness Project Journal Yearbook, my collaboration with Chatbooks.

Podcast 282: Do Good to Feel Good, Author Bruce Feiler Suggests Two Questions to Help Manage Transitions, and a Spotlight on Octavia Butler.


Update: For some summer fun, I'm giving away a copy of my coloring book, The Happiness Project Mini Posters. Enter to win this giveaway on my Instagram account @gretchenrubin. It ends on Monday, July 20, 2020. Because of shipping costs, the book giveaway is for the United States only—but I do have a digital giveaway for international fans, too.

In an update, a listener reports that as part of her update of her "20 for 20" list, she decided to "diversify my podcast listening by prioritizing podcasts by people of color." If you want to check out the podcasts she recommends, she lists 1619, Code Switch, It's Been a Minute, and Truth Be Told.

Try This at Home: Do good to feel good.

A listener explained that she shook herself out of coronavirus-induced listlessness by tackling a project that would help her father, a painter, by building a website for him. He was thrilled, and she was so energized by accomplishing this task for him that she was able to re-engage in her own projects. She notes: "My dad’s website is if you’re curious."

Elizabeth mentions the novel Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Amazon, Bookshop).

Happiness Hack: A listener suggests that one way to "put down the clipboard" when dealing with a child (or yourself!) is to use smartphone ringtones to indicate when it's time to go to bed, take a nap, start dinner, etc. "It's like your phone is the one with the clipboard, not you."

Spotlight on a Black Writer: Octavia Butler.

Octavia Butler was a science fiction author who won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, and she was the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur “Genius Grant.”

I discovered her through her collection Bloodchild and Other Stories (AmazonBookshop), which I loved. I just finished Dawn (Amazon, Bookshop), which is the first in the trilogy called Lilith’s Brood, and Kindred (Amazon, Bookshop). Some of her more famous works include Parable of the Sower (Amazon, Bookshop); Parable of the Talents (Amazon, Bookshop); and Wild Seed (Amazon, Bookshop)—first in her Patternist series, which is five novels.

I was very struck by this cover of the book of Dawn. My library didn’t have it, so I got used copy of the 1987 book. The cover shows two white women, one of whom is clearly meant to be the protagonist Lilith, even though it’s made very clear in the novel that Lilith is black.

Know Yourself Better with Bruce Feiler.

Bruce is an old friend who is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, the presenter of two prime-time series on PBS, and the inspiration for the TV drama Council of Dads on NBC. Bruce’s two TED Talks have been viewed more than two million times. He's also well known for his work about the role of spirituality in contemporary life, in books such as Walking the Bible (Amazon, Bookshop), Where God Was Born (Amazon, Bookshop), Abraham (Amazon, Bookshop), and The First Love Story (Amazon, Bookshop).

His new book is Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age (Amazon, Bookshop).

He suggests two know-yourself-better questions for when you're going through transitions:

  • "What are three personal projects on my plate right now?"
  • "What's the biggest emotion I struggled with in the course of my transition?"

Elizabeth's Demerit: She and Adam started clearing space for Jack to build a Lego town, but they stalled out.

Gretchen's Gold Star: I give a gold star to my friend Debbie, who had the presence of mind at the start of safer-at-home to rent a dumpster. Her three grown sons came home for ten weeks, and they all worked to clean out the suburban house they'd lived in for twenty-three years. They filled a dumpster and multiple car loads of donations.

If this conversation puts you in the mood to clear clutter, check out my book Outer Order, Inner Calm.


  • Don’t forget that I'm offering my Four Tendencies Video Course for 50% off until the end of July (only $50!). If you want to dive deep into understanding your Tendency, click here to join today or learn more.
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin is part of ‘The Onward Project,’ a family of podcasts brought together by me—they’re all about how to make your life better. If you like our podcast, you’ll probably also like Elizabeth’s other podcast, Happier in Hollywood (because one podcast isn’t enough!), Chris Gullebeau’s show Side Hustle School, Do the Thing from Whole30’s Melissa Hartwig Urban, and Everything Happens with Kate Bowler.

Quote From the Podcast

"Our lives take all different shapes. But the key ingredient of a nonlinear life is that we do have more transitions."
Bruce Feiler

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