355: Talk to Yourself by Name. Make a “To Don’t” List. How to Resist Over-Buying.


In response to our suggestion to personalize gifts in episode 353 about the “Happier Gift Guide,” a listener wrote, “Make sure you know the person’s name before you personalize something.” So true.

Are you using the Happier app? I want to hear how you’re using it–what aims, how you’re using the tools, all of it. Let me know! (If you want to try it out for free, use the code HAPPIERNOW for early access.) 

Try This at Home

Talk to yourself by name.

Research suggests that there are real benefits of talking to yourself in the third person. “Gretchen, you need to start that project tomorrow morning.”

If you’re interested in learning more about “distanced self-talk,” check out the book Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross, one of the main researchers in this area. (AmazonBookshop)

You can read an interview I did with Ethan Kross here.

Happiness Hack

Write a “To Don’t” list to remind yourself of all the things you don’t want to do.

I mention my “13 tips for getting more reading done”; you can read the whole list here.

I mention the “Tackle Box” with the different kinds of sticky pads: To-do, Ta-da, To-day, To Doodle, and Could Do.

Deep Dive

Listeners had many helpful suggestions for managing over-buying.

To read more about under-buyers and over-buyers, go here. Some ideas include…

  • If you feel the urge to buy, buy holiday gifts – but make sure these gifts are for specific people!
  • Remind yourself, “It will be in the store when I need it.” Or as I phrased the same idea in my book Outer Order, Inner Calm, “I can store it in the store.”
  • Ride your bike so you can’t carry as much. Related: don’t use a basket or cart in a store.
  • Keep a spare “on deck” but no more than one spare. Relatedly…
  • Keep items stored together, so you know what you have.
  • Add purchases to your cart, but delay before buying (bonus: you may get sent a discount code).
  • Put off going to the store for as long as possible.
  • For online shopping, delete your accounts and shop as a guest, because it’s a nuisance to enter your information every time

I mention my book Outer Order, Inner Calm. It has dozens of ideas for managing clutter, and many of them relate to the management of buying. In the “Vital 9“, this aim falls under “Mindful Consumption.”

Demerits and Gold Stars

Gretchen’s Demerit: I was cold (as I often am), and instead of dealing with it, I just let myself get cranky. Elizabeth reminded me of our Try This at Home to “Treat yourself like a toddler.”

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth is excited to watch the re-boot of Sex and the City,  the new show called And Just Like That…


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What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: L. A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: The Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley (AmazonBookshop)




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