386: Find the Right Metaphor, Chop Your Salad, and Why That Line Seems to Move So Slowly

Try This at Home

Find the metaphor (or simile) that works for you. We discuss metaphors such as balance, a notions box, a journey, a battle, and a project. I mention the “tackle box” metaphor. If you’d like to see my “Tackle Box” of five sticky pads—pads for To Do, Ta-Da, Could Do, Today, and To Doodle—you can find it here.

Photo of the Tackle Box against a blue background

Elizabeth mentions the TV drama that she created with Sarah Fain and Marcia Clark, The Fix.

Happiness Hack

You can ask a restaurant to chop a salad for you. A very small hack!

Happiness Stumbling Block

The frustration of waiting in line can be alleviated by knowing more about what makes waiting times seem longer and shorter. I mention the paper by David Maister, “The Psychology of Waiting Lines.” Some highlights about why some waits seem longer than others:

  1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time.
  2. People want to get started, so waiting seems to go faster once we’re underway.
  3. Anxiety makes waits seem longer.
  4. Uncertain waits seem longer than known, finite waits.
  5. Unexplained waits seem longer than explained waits.
  6. Unfair waits seem longer than fair waits.
  7. The more valuable the service, the longer we’ll wait.
  8. Solo waits feel longer than group waits.

Bonus Hack: it’s useful to tell ourselves we’re doing “Waiting in line meditation.”

Demerits & Gold Stars

Elizabeth’s Demerit/Gold Star/PSA: She tried to make an appointment for a colonoscopy for her Summer of Health, but it turned out that she has to wait many weeks for an appointment. PSA: Go ahead and call now. I mention that I used Cologuard.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: At a very busy time in her life—the end of her junior year in high school—Eleanor chose to organize “More Is More,” a runway show with her friends.


  • Are you trying to make (or break) a habit? Download my “Checklist for Habit Change.” This one-page chart will help you deploy the many strategies for habit change as you work on a crucial key habit that you want to master.  Click here and scroll down to “Better Than Before.”
  • If you enjoy our Try-This-at-Home tips on Happier, you might also enjoy my “Happiness and Good Habits” newsletter. Every two weeks, get practical tips delivered to your inbox. Click here to learn more and sign up.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: Still reading How to Win the Bachelor by Chat Kultgen and Lizzy Pace (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (AmazonBookshop)



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Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.