368: Think by Talking, Start a Puzzle Exchange, and More Dates for the Calendar of Catalysts

“Fantasy Island” was an answer on the game show Jeopardy! So exciting.  Also, March 5 was the third anniversary of my bestselling book Outer Order, Inner Calm. In honor of the anniversary — and spring cleaning — get a 20% discount at checkout for my Outer Order, Inner Calm 30-day SMS Challenge. For thirty days, you get a daily audio prompt from me to help you achieve outer order. 

Try This at Home

Say it through to think it through — or in other words, do thinking by talking. It’s a twist on the happiness hack of “rubber duck debugging” from episode 342

Happiness Hack

Create a puzzle exchange in an office, school, or store. So fun, so easy.  

Photo of a puzzle exchange box

Deep Dive: Calendar of Catalysts 

In episode 363, we talked about the “Calendar of Catalysts.” We’re big fans of any reminder to stop to consider what changes could make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. We asked listeners for more suggestions of dates to use as catalysts—and we got them! Note: these dates may need to be adjusted for your country, hemisphere, different years, etc.

  • September 5 — #HappierLaborDay! Use the holiday of Labor Day to think about your own labor – your own work life.
  • May 4 “May the Fourth be with you” from Star Wars — Face that big, intimidating challenge or decision you need to make, by using all the power of the Force to tackle it. As Yoda said, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
  • May 1  “Mayday” — Look for ways to ask for help
  • May 1  A day when you “may” do something — especially good for Rebels
  • March 10  From the popular video game, “Mario Day,” because of “MAR10.” Mario’s catch phrase is “Let’s go!” so use the day to get going on a project or goal
  • Daylight Saving Time dates:
  • May 29 — Think about saving for your education or helping others to save, inspired by 529 savings plans for education.
  • April 1 — Think about saving for your retirement, inspired by 401(k) retirement plans
  • April 15  Use tax day to think about your finances
  • April 10  Use the 100th day of the year for a whimsical celebration
  • August 1 — “Dogust” is the day to celebrate the birthday of a dog if you don’t know the dog’s actual birthday
  • November 11  Many people make a wish if they see that the time is 11:11, so you could use this date to reflect on making your wishes come true.
  • November 25  Use this “free day” to tackle a big project

You might also use:

  • the lunar calendar
  • your birthday and half-birthday  a great catalyst for medical check-ups
  • a pet’s birthday
  • the birthday of your spiritual master  turns out Barbara Walters’s birthday is September 25
  • personal anniversaries  such as my upcoming fifth anniversary of The Four Tendencies

Demerits & Gold Stars

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth hasn’t been doing the exercises to help her frozen shoulder. 

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to the podcast The Accessible Stall with Kyle and Emilyhosted by Kyle Khachadurian and Emily Ladau. I like the podcast so much that I also read Emily Ladau’s new book Demystifying Disability (AmazonBookshop), which I also highly recommend.


  • I had a really fun conversation with Dr. Amy Boyd for the PhD Wellness Summit on March 14-18th, 2022. If you’re working toward or recently completed your PhD, you might be interested in this free, five-day summit where experts discuss issues such as mental health, finances, what happens after you finish your PhD, and beyond. Register here and tune in on March 14th if you’d like to to hear my talk on harnessing self-knowledge to find the strategies that work for you.
  • In honor of the third anniversary of my bestselling book Outer Order, Inner Calm, I’m doing a giveaway. You can enter and follow along at @gretchenrubin on Instagram. The prize is an Outer Order, Inner Calm bundle, including a free, signed copy of the book and a free 30-day Outer Order, Inner Calm SMS course.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: Crying in the Bathroom by Erika Sanchez (AmazonBookshop)

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