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Podcast 284: Why Buying Isn’t Doing, a Deep Dive into Ways to Display Your Favorite Quotations, and a Spotlight on Harriet Washington.


Update: A listener recommends the site Walking 4 Fun as a way to "hike" famous trails.

Try This at Home: Remember that buying isn’t doing. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of buying something, and not remember that paying for supplies, classes, equipment, etc. isn’t the same thing as using or doing those things.

I quote from Elias Canetti: “One lives in the naïve notion that later there will be more room than in the entire past.” The Human Province

Happiness Hack: I did an online event with Eraina Ferguson, who had a great hack: create a "subscription box" for grandparents, with children's art, school photos, and a book for the grandparents to read to a child on Zoom. Check out her new book: My Good Life: One Woman’s Quest to Raise Her Special Needs Daughter.

Spotlight on a Black Author: Harriet Washington

I’ve known Harriet for years; we’re part of the same writers’ group of non-fiction writers. She’s a medical ethicist, science writer, and journalist and the author of  Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (Amazon, Bookshop). This book has won several awards: National Book Critics Circle Award (Nonfiction), PEN/Oakland Award, BCALA Nonfiction Award, Gustavus Meyers Award.

It's absolutely gripping, compelling and thought-provoking. Harriet Washington also has a book that just came out last year, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind (Amazon, Bookshop).

Here's how Elizabeth displays a favorite Anne Lamott quotation.

Deep Dive into Ways to Display Favorite Quotations and Aphorisms: A listener asked for creative ideas for displaying her favorite aphorisms, quotations, mantras, and so on.

Some creative ideas include:

  • use passwords
  • use a felt letter board
  • search the site The Typeset Co
  • create a chalkboard wall using chalkboard paint
  • use the browser extension Momentum
  • write on the back of postcards
  • use quotations to make bookmarks
  • Elizabeth's favorite method: print it on a mug (Elizabeth's favorite method)
  • My favorite method: add it to my Moment of Happiness free daily newsletter (my favorite method)—sign up here to get a daily quotation about happiness or human nature!
Here’s how I displayed one of my favorite aphorisms—that I wrote! In our living room.

Elizabeth's Demerit: She hasn't worn her retainer since the pandemic started.

I suspect that this is an example of Obliger-rebellion.

Gretchen's (two) Gold Stars: Gold star to Elizabeth for giving me my new favorite t-shirt—with a ketchup theme! Because my research into the body and the senses has given me great respect for ketchup.

Also, gold star to people who've answered the census. If you haven't answered it yet, get yourself a gold star.


  • If you’re looking for a free, easy but personal gift idea, consider the gift of a podcast! Print out a certificate you can customize and give to a loved one here.
  • Do you need more book recommendations? You can follow me on Goodreads, check the hashtag #GretchenRubinReads for my weekly photo of what I read that week, or read my monthly blog post where I share a quick description or response to each book I read that month.

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