Podcast 257: Don’t Try to “Mind-Read” and Talking about the Joy of Movement with Kelly McGonigal.


We’re planning a Very Special Episode on relationship advice for the upcoming episode 260. Please send in your advice about relationships!

Also, send us your questions and comments for Wild Game. We’ll talk to Adrienne Brodeur in episode 259, airing February 5.

Try This at Home

Don’t try to “mind-read.”

I came across this suggestion in Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communications Patterns by Ben Benjamin, Amy Yeager, and Anita Simon.

They explain that signs of unhelpful mind-reading include:

  • You spend more time talking to this person in your head than in real life
  • You talk about this person more often to other people than talking to them directly
  • It’s not what this person says, but what you think they’re not saying that affects you most deeply
  • You wonder a lot about what they think of you
  • Things they say bother you, even though you wouldn’t be bothered if someone else said the same thing
  • This person thinks and reacts exactly the way someone else you know did
  • You think you often know what they’re going through better than they do

Happiness Hack

Our listener Belinda suggests that as a way to support new habits, read a book where the main character does the activity you’re interested in. 


Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and Stanford University lecturer, and I first got to know her work with her excellent book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, which I found a very helpful resource when I was writing Better Than Before, my book about how to change our habits.

In our Very Special Episode 240, which was all about dealing with anxiety, worry, and stress, we talked about her helpful book,  The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It.

Her new book is The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, which is a great resource for people who are doing our


She explains the many ways that movement helps us. Being active increases all the other joys in your life: it improves your relationships, it helps you focus, it improves your mental health, it can help people recover from things like depression and grief. People who exercise on any given day have better social interactions with other people, and being physically active reliably increases your optimism, your hope, and your sense of energy.

Kelly’s Try This at Home: Choose a walk-on song for your one-word theme for the year— the song that captures the best part of who you are, and who you aspire to be, and what you want to bring to the world.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m buying items—like a rubber hand—for my project on the body and the senses, but I’m not using them right away.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: All on his own, Jack is gravitating toward healthier food.


  • Are you joining us for “Walk 20 in ‘20”? You can jump in any time. I’ve created a PDF you can use to check off every day you walk for 20 minutes, to see your progress throughout the year. Head to gretchenrubin.com/resources  to download this new PDF.
  • Want to connect with other people to talk about our latest Happier Book Club pick? You can follow me on Goodreads and join the group there, or share your thoughts in my free app Better under the topic “Books We’re Reading.

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