Podcast 286: September Is the Other January, Jay Shetty Explains How to Think Like a Monk, and a Spotlight on Colson Whitehead.


Elizabeth and I are planning an all-hacks episode for upcoming episode 290, so send in your hacks.

Try This at Home

Remember that September is the other January. We also talked about this idea back in episode 129.

In my book Happier at Home, I describe my happiness project that stretched from September to May—a school year, which is another kind of year.

September, for many people, marks a fresh start and a new beginning, so it’s good to think about changes to make with this clean slate.

In my book Better Than Before, I talk about using the “Strategy of the Clean Slate” as a way to harness new beginnings to help ourselves make important changes.

For her “new year,” Elizabeth wants to move her treadmill desk into her home office. I want to push myself to make more social plans.

Happiness Hack

On a box of aluminum foil or cling wrap, note that you can push in the small indentations on the ends so that the cardboard flaps hold the roll in place.

Spotlight on a Black Author

Colson Whitehead is an American novelist and non-fiction writer. I just finished his terrific poker tournament memoir The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death (AmazonBookshop).

Reading his book, along with Maria Konnikova’s memoir The Biggest Bluff (AmazonBookshop), inspired me to learn to play poker.

Also, I just finished Colson Whitehead’s coming-of-age novel Sag Harbor (AmazonBookshop). It appears in this great reading list from the BBC about The Greatest Summer Novels Ever Written.

He’s also written many other bestselling, multiple-award-winning novels including The Nickel Boys (AmazonBookshopand The Underground Railroad (AmazonBookshop)—both of which I’ve been trying to get my hands on.


Jay Shetty is the host of the enormously popular podcast On Purposeand he has a new book Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day (AmazonBookshop). It has practical steps that anyone can take every day to have a less anxious, more meaningful life.

We talked about…


  • his life as a practicing monk in India for three years
  • what it means to “think like a monk” and how to do it in our ordinary lives
  • how he used his knowledge and experience to deal with the disappointments related to the changes for his book publication, due to the pandemic
  • I mention a story that our mother often tells, about “How do you know what’s good luck or bad luck?” (You can listen to me tell that two-minute story here)
  • how to listen better

Jay Shetty’s Try This at Home: Follow the “Three S Model”—change the sights, scents, and sounds in your home. (Of course, this suggestion appealed to me because of my work on the body and the senses.)

Elizabeth’s Demerit: When Elizabeth first got the TV fixed in her exercise room, she only allowed herself to watch the Real Housewives shows while she was on the treadmill; she was very successfully using the habit-changing “Strategy of Pairing.” But now she’s allowing herself to watch the Real Housewives even when she’s not on the treadmill.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to Elizabeth and Adam, for cleaning out the room for Jack’s Lego town. It was a big job.



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