Podcast 277: Schedule an “Empower Hour,” a Know-Yourself-Better Question about Confiding Secrets, and a Spotlight on Writer Nnedi Okorafor.

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Schedule an “Empower Hour.”

Many times, starting back in episode 6, we’ve talked about scheduling a weekly “Power Hour.”

A listener made a great suggestion about how to put a twist on this idea, to make it very appropriate for today: schedule a weekly “Empower Hour.”

An hour may not seem like much time, but once we start, it’s easier to keep going, and by scheduling the hour, we make sure those efforts don’t get forgotten. If something isn’t put on the calendar, even with the best intentions, time can slip by, and it’s all too easy not to do anything at all.

Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time. So scheduling is helpful. Don’t know if you’re an Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, or Rebel? Take the free quick quiz here.

Happiness Hack

A dollar bill is just slightly longer than six inches. (Actually, any denomination works!)

This hack comes from a delightful article in the New York Times last year, called “The best advice you’ve ever received (and are willing to pass on)” by David Pogue. I love lists of advice, and this has great ideas for life, work, parenting advice—plus a few hacks, like this one.

Because a dollar bill is just a bit longer than six inches, if you want to know something’s measurements and you don’t have a ruler or tape measure with you, you can make use a bill to make a good guess.


Spotlight on a Black Writer

Nnedi Okorafor.

I’ve been a big fan of Okorafor’s work for a long time. She’s a Nigerian-American writer of books for adults and young adults. I first discovered her when I read her young-adult fantasy novel Akata Witch.

A month ago, Elizabeth and I chose her brilliant short memoir Broken Places & Outer Spaces for the book club we do on our “Coping with COVID-19” Instagram Live conversations. (You can check the schedule for upcoming conversations here.)


We’ll be talking about this memoir on Instagram Live on Monday, June 22. It’s thought-provoking, fascinating, and a page-turner. (It’s also very short, so you could read it by June 22nd.) When Nnedi Okorafor a freshman in college—a tennis star and a pre-med student—she was temporarily paralyzed after a spine operation. She regained the ability to walk, but her life was changed, and she found her vocation as a writer.

In addition to this memoir, Okorafor has written many books, she’s won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, among many others, her books are being made into a TV show by HBO, and she’s also written comics for Marvel, a movie adaptation, and more. If you want more recommendations, I also especially love the Binti trilogy.

Know Yourself Better

Are you more likely to confide in someone you’re close to, or not particularly close to?

I quote from the book You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy.

Listener Question

Some members of a movie-watching group never show up. What to do?

Gretchen’s Demerit: This is so huge, I can’t even really call it a demerit, but it needs to be said: I’m doing a lot of soul-searching, and I’m realizing how much I need to learn about the ongoing issues of racism. It’s on all of us—and by “us” I mean “me”—to change, and I really want to educate myself.

We don’t realize how much we see through the lens of privilege; I want to work to see the world more clearly.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the podcast Meditative Story, hosted by Rohan Gunatillake.

Elizabeth mentions the episode on Meditative Story where I talk about how it took me a surprisingly long time truly to grasp that not everyone shares my love of habits, or my appreciation for simplicity, or my desire to get up early. Click here to listen. She also mentions great episodes with Elizabeth Lesser and Dan Harris, and DeRay Mckesson.


  • Attention book-lovers! The latest book for our “Happier Podcast Book Club” is The Dutch House, the brilliant, page-turning novel by Ann Patchett. We’ll be talking with her in July, so dive in and send us your questions by posting to social media using the hashtag #happierpodcastbookclub. And follow me on Goodreads to join the discussion there.



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