Podcast 143: Say “Down with Boredom,” an Interview About Marriage with Jancee Dunn, and a Very Helpful Question.


Our listener Laura suggested that we start a segment called “Before and After” to feature success stories from listeners. Great idea! Send us any examples of transformation. I do love any “before and after” story. 

Try This at Home

Say “Down with boredom.” A note on a friend’s computer taught me a giant lesson about writing — and about life. Down with boredom. Whenever possible, skip the boring parts! In writing all my books, if there’s an aspect of my subject that bores me, I figure out a way to write around it (and no one has ever seemed to notice). I try to do the same thing in all aspects of my life. Down with boredom. It’s not always easy, but it’s often more possible than you might imagine. As Elizabeth points out, one of my Secrets of Adulthood is “The opposite of a profound truth is also true.” So in addition to say “Down with boredom,” try “Embrace boredom.” Or put another way, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” Here’s the post I mention, about 6 Tips for Coping with Boredom.

Happiness Hack

If you’re not sure what to do, ask people with knowledge or authority, “What would you do, if you were in my situation?” I got this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Committed. She writes:
“What would you do now, if you were in our situation?” I asked. This is a technique I’ve learned to use over the years whenever I find myself at an impasse with a dispassionate customer service operator or an apathetic bureaucrat. Phrasing the sentence in such a manner invites the person who has all the power to pause for a moment and put themselves in the shoes of the person who is powerless.
This hack is often very, very helpful.


We talk to Jancee Dunn and Tom Vanderbilt. Jancee Dunn is a journalist and bestselling author of several books, including her hilarious, candid new book How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids. This book combines her memoir about her own marital challenges with advice that she got from various relationship experts (including an FBI crisis negotiator!) about how to handle the stresses on a marriage after a baby is added to the mix. To add to the discussion, Jancee’s husband Tom Vanderbilt joined us, too. Tom is also a very accomplished, bestselling author and journalist. He’s written several books, including two books that I love: You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice and Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). As I was reading, I thought a lot about the Four Tendencies — Jancee is an Obliger, Tom is a Rebel. (If you want to take the quiz, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, the quiz is here.)

Gretchen’s Demerit

Speaking of husband’s, I lost my temper with my husband — in the middle of the night, for no reason! (Gold star to Jamie for being good-natured about it.)

Elizabeth’s Gold Star

Elizabeth gives a gold star to the firefighters of California who have worked so hard this year.




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