Podcast 239: Tackling Life’s Big Questions with Kate Bowler, and an Office Morale-Booster.

Try This at Home

Make a concrete offer. Be specific about how you might help—it helps the recipient if we make a concrete offer, and it demonstrates a sincere desire to be helpful. We talk about Emily McDowell’s book There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

Happiness Hack

I recently spoke at the Kansas Women’s Attorney Association, and I was impressed by the organization’s way of helping people to break the ice, get to know each other, and connect: they gave everyone a sash and various badges.  Button-makers are easy to order, and not terrifically expensive. For instance, here’s one for $113.

We’re always looking for great ways (other than bringing donuts!) to help people connect more easily—this seems super-easy and fun. Even designing and making the buttons could be a fun activity.

Interview with Kate Bowler

About four years ago, Kate Bowler was living an ordinary life: she was 35 years old, she was a professor at Duke Divinity school, married, with a new baby—when she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

This experience forced her to reckon with her mortality. In a truly extraordinary way, she has grappled with this experience. She has a terrific podcast, which we highly recommend, called Everything Happens, and she has a wonderful memoir called Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.

Kate’s try-this-at-home suggestion is: Remember that no matter what you’re going through, you have something to give.

Gretchen’s Demerit

I forgot to take my traditional first-day-of-school photo for Eliza.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star

She loves the new TV show BH90210.


  1. If you’d like to get an email update every time I have a new blog post, sign up for my newsletter. For example, I have many interviews with other authors, I share book suggestions, and I write about ideas and strategies related to happiness and good habits. If you’re already subscribed to my primary monthly newsletter, you can update your subscription preferences at gretchenrubin.com/#newsletter.
  2. Due to popular demand, I created a PDF that includes all the “Try This at Home” suggestions from every episode. I update it a few times a year. You can download it for free at gretchenrubin.com/resources.




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