Podcast 274: Change Your Life When You’re Changing Your Life, Hacks for Sibling Harmony, and a Deep Dive into COVID-19 Mantras.


We’re very excited to announce the next choice for the Happier Podcast Book ClubThe Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

This novel has generated a tremendous amount of buzz and praise, and was an instant bestseller. From the description:

A richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

It’s a thought-provoking book that’s also a page-turner. We both loved it.

In addition to being a brilliant writer, Ann Patchett also co-owns the beloved indie bookstore Parnassus Books in her hometown of Nashville. So if you’re ordering the book, please consider ordering it from Parnassus. Or support your own local indie bookstore.

If you want more Ann Patchett, I also particularly love her memoir Truth and Beauty: A Friendship, about her decades-long friendship with writer Lucy Grealy (I’ve read it three times). I also really love her novels Commonwealth and Bel Canto.

These days, of course, we won’t be able to meet in a studio, but through the wonders of technology Ann Patchett will join Elizabeth and me to talk about the novel for episode 281 airing July 8, 2020.

Do you love audiobooks? Tom Hanks performs the audiobook, and several people have told me that it’s great.

What are your questions or insights about the book? Add them in the comments, or share them on social media using #happierpodcastbookclub, and we’ll incorporate them into the interview.

Try This at Home

Change your life when you’re changing your life.

The best time to change your life is when you’re already changing your life. In Better Than Before, my book about how to make and break habits, I describe this as the “Strategy of the Clean Slate.”

Research shows that one of the best times to change our habits is when we’re going through a big transition because old habits are wiped away, so it’s easier for new habits to form.

Elizabeth mentions the book When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. We’ve all been going through a big transition! And as things gradually begin to change back to normal, it will be helpful to be mindful about ways to hang on to any good habits we’ve developed. What’s working, and how do we hang onto it, as time moves forward?

To work on a major habit, we often need to use multiple strategies (fortunately, this is easier than it sounds). If you’d like to use my one-page “Checklist for Habit Change,” to figure out how to use as many strategies as possible to tackle an important habit, you can download it here.

Happiness Hack

A listener asks for hacks to promote sibling harmony. Two examples:

  • you cut the cake, I choose my piece
  • the Easter Bunny leaves blue and green eggs for one child and yellow and orange eggs for one child

Listeners, what hacks can you suggest?

Deep Dive into Mantras

In episode 269, we talked about choosing a mantra for this COVID-19 time. Some great examples:

  • “No day but today.”
  • “Stay in to get out.”
  • “Stay busy. Stay calm.”
  • “Positive.”
  • “Control what you can, let go of what you can’t.”
  • “You become what you pay attention to.”
  • “I can do hard things!”
  • “Let go.”
  • “What am I going to kick myself for not getting done during this time.”
  • “Be aggressively cheerful.”
  • “Embrace your inner rebel.”
  • “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
  • “Enough is a feast.”
  • “Wear pants!”

Several listeners mentioned my “Four Tendencies” personality framework. If you want to learn more about the framework, read here, and if you want to take the free, quick quiz to learn your Tendency—whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel—you can take it here. (More than 2.8 million people have taken this quiz.) Elizabeth mentions the video of Snoop Dogg sitting in his car and listening to the song “Let It Go” from the movie FrozenGretchen’s Demerit: Eleanor and I haven’t been regularly doing our back exercises, for posture.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the game Pop-A-Shot 10 Games or Pop-A-Shot 16 Games. It’s expensive, but it’s also an active, fun game that makes a good break that both children and adults enjoy. She, Jack, and Adam have been spending a lot of time playing it.



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