Podcast 288: Learn Something with a Beginning, Middle, and End, a Know-Yourself-Better Question about Second-Guessing Yourself, and a Spotlight on Brit Bennett.


We’re getting so many great hack suggestions for our upcoming Very Special Episode 290! For many years, I’ve chosen a one-word theme for the year, and my theme for 2020 is “Infrastructure,” because I’ve realized that I need more infrastructure.

I’m planning to hire a Growth Strategy and Operations Executive to lead the business side of my work. This person will be a thought partner, a second brain, someone who will get to know everything about what I do and will think strategically about growth and execution.

Try This at Home

Learn to do something with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I decided to learn poker—inspired by two excellent memoirs, Colson Whitehead’s The Noble Hustle (AmazonBookshop) and Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff (AmazonBookshop), and by a friend who told me that her family played every night during the height of safer-at-home.

Elizabeth learned how to use ShipStation to ship the Happier in Hollywood rainbow Silipint travel cups.

Happiness Hack

Elizabeth mentioned her “quicksand” of chips in episodes 216 and 287For a snack, a listener suggests eating unsalted pistachios in their shells: having to shell them slows you down, satisfies you, and the craving passes.

This is a great example of using the very powerful Strategy of Inconvenience.

Spotlight on Black Author: Brit Bennett.

I highly recommend Bennett’s New York Times bestselling novel The Vanishing Half  (AmazonBookshop)and I’m now hunting down a copy of her first novel, also a bestseller, The Mothers (AmazonBookshop). She’s written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and other places. I couldn’t put down The Vanishing Half—it’s so compelling.

Look at the jacket. At first, I thought it was just an abstract design until finally, I saw that it’s a picture of two women.

If you’d like to get an email about the books I read each month, sign up at gretchenrubin.com/newsletter

Know Yourself Better

Do you second-guess yourself after a conversation? There are three kinds of second-guessing:

  • what you said
  • how you said it
  • what you didn’t say

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Jack’s doctor said that Jack isn’t eating enough vegetables.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to a podcast from The Ringer called Boom/Bust: the Rise and Fall of HQ TriviaEight episodes—riveting.


  • 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. If you’d like to listen to an excerpt from the audiobook, click here and scroll down to “Happier At Home.”

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