Podcast 211: Spend Time Individually with Family Members, an Ice Cube Hack, and Obligers’ Relationships to Accountability and Possessions.

Try This at Home: 

Try to spend time individually with each member of your family. We discuss a passage from Abby Pogrebin’s book One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned about Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular

Happiness Hack

If you feel yourself going into a regret spiral, with racing, circling thoughts, try plunging your face into ice water. Or if you can’t do that, put an ice cube in your mouth. This idea was proposed in Jennifer Taitz’s New York Times article, “6 Steps to Turn Regret Into Self-Improvement.” I read a passage from Joan Didion’s brilliant essay “On Self-Respect,” which is included in the collection Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

Self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth. It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag.

Four Tendencies Tip

We discuss what circumstances finally prodded a busy Obliger doctor to get important surgery.

Listener Question

A listener asks if Obliger feels particularly obligated to hang on to family possessions. We mention Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. (What a title!) 

Gretchen’s Demerit

I got very excited at the prospect of cleaning the clutter in Elizabeth’s office—and then I realized I had quite a bit of clutter I could tackle in my own office! Physician, heal thyself, etc. 

Elizabeth’s Gold Star

Elizabeth gives a gold star to her son Jack’s teacher Mrs. Herrington, who went out of her way to write a positive report, even when it wasn’t required.


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