Get weekly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

Podcast 336: Allow Others to Share Your Enthusiasm, the Props Listeners Use to Manage Anxiety, a Deep Dive into Listeners’ One-Word Themes—Plus a Hack for Asking Tough Questions.


Update: We asked listeners for suggestions for slogans—to make the point that giving ourselves demerits is a constructive way to help ourselves take actions that will make us happier. We got many great suggestions:

  • Name it to tame it.
  • Say it to slay it.
  • Share it to repair it.
  • State it to abate it.
  • Give yourself a demerit, you’ll get a boost after you share it.
  • Reveal it to heal it.
  • Reveal it to repeal it.
  • Get it off your chest, then give it your best.

Here's what I came up with: Patrol it to control it.

Try This at Home: Allow others to share your enthusiasm. Sometimes, when we feel deeply attached to something—a TV show, a book, a writer, a figure from history—we don't want to acknowledge that others have a claim to it.

I mention my book Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill.

Happiness Hack: When you want to raise a question to someone who is very defensive, touchy, arrogant, or otherwise doesn't want to be questioned, frame the question as one asked by others, not you. For instance, if interviewing one of the Real Housewives, Elizabeth would say, “What do you say to people who insist that this is all scripted?”

Deep Dive Double Feature:

Deep Dive 1: Props

In episode 331, we suggested the try-this-at-home to “Give yourself a prop to hold,” which was inspired by actor Andrew McCarthy’s recollection that he found it much easier to act in a challenging scene when he got a set of bongos to play.

We heard from many people who use props to help manage feelings of anxiety or self-consciousness. Props included:

  • pen
  • grip strengthener
  • polished rock
  • mug (many teachers mentioned this prop)
  • glass of wine (used by a brand photographer who specializes in wine)
  • clipboard
  • mask
  • water bottle

Deep Dive 2: One-word themes

We often talk  about our one-word themes; in episode 306 we explained why we picked our 2021 themes: Butterfly and Open.

Listeners' one-word themes for 2021 include:

  • Delegate
  • Read — yes, #Read21in21!
  • YES
  • Slow
  • Prepare
  • Enlightened
  • Regal
  • Experiment
  • Release
  • Flourish
  • Value
  • Believe
  • Edit

Some people tied their one-word theme to their Tendency. If you want to find out if you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, take the free, quick quiz here. More than 3.2 million people have taken it.

Elizabeth's Demerit: She hasn't been taking selfies with the actors during the shooting of Fantasy Island.

Here's the photograph with Oprah Winfrey that Elizabeth and I mention.

Gretchen's Gold Star: I give a gold star to our fantastic producer Chuck Reed for his flexibility in recording times. We appreciate it so much.


  • If you’re a teacher, parent, coach, or professor anticipating the start of a new school year, I have a guide for you. Click here, then scroll down to the section titled “Four Tendencies” where you’ll find the guide for "Using the Four Tendencies with Children and Students.” Free to download and print.
  • Many of you are completists, and I hear from people who are sorry that they’re all caught up and now have to wait for each Wednesday to get a new episode. If you want more, listen to my audio-books. You can get them on Audible, Apple Books, and Google Play. Better Than Before is a great pick for forming good habits at any time of the year.

What we’re reading:

Elizabeth: Terry McMillan’s It’s Not All Downhill from Here (AmazonBookshop)

Gretchen: Juhani Pallasmaa's The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses (Amazon, Bookshop)

Thanks to Our Sponsors

More Episodes For You

icon onward

One Last Thing

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.”

Learn More

Get My Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.