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amp;source=gmail&ust=1619197476000000&usg=AFQjCNEeEp4Etoafh-7FVGoD11EA_L9rUw\">\Choiceology\\, and the former president of the international Society for Judgment and Decision Making.\

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She's also the co-founder and co-director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, a research center with the mission of advancing the science of lasting behavior change. She's written for publications such as \The Washington Post\,\ The New York Times\, \USA Today\, and \The Economist\.\

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Her new book is \How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You are to Where You Want to Be\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\

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I couldn't wait to talk to Katy about happiness, habits, and human nature.\

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\Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?\\

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Katy: My morning routine involves listening to my favorite podcast –\\ The Daily\\ – while I get ready for work. I love that I can combine waking up in the shower, brushing my teeth, putting on lotion, and picking out clothes with a deep dive into current events. I thrive on information, so this habit ensures I start each day feeling happy, informed, and refreshed even though I rarely have time to sit down and read through a full newspaper.\

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\What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?\\

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When I was 18, I had no idea how much of my own happiness would emanate from finding meaning and purpose in my work. I feel lucky that I stumbled into a career that provides me with such a strong sense of purpose because I didn’t know to go looking for one.\

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\You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you—or your readers—most?\\

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Most people (myself included) tend to think that when you give advice to someone else, you’re doing them a selfless favor. But I’ve learned from working with a brilliant scientist named Lauren Eskreis-Winkler that when you give other people advice about how to achieve a goal in an area where you’d also like to improve, it helps \you\ a lot.\

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Why? First, being asked for advice boosts your self-confidence. Second, it causes you to dredge up insights you might not have otherwise contemplated. Finally, once you’ve given someone else advice, it feels hypocritical not to take it yourself.\

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I was lucky enough to collaborate with Lauren on one experiment where we showed this. We invited high school students to spend a few minutes writing down tips for their younger peers about how to study more effectively. We found this activity improved the advisors’ own grades in the class they cared about most.\

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A lot of people find it surprising that when you play the role of advisor or mentor to someone else, it turns out to help you, the advice-giver. But the data is incontrovertible, and I think it’s a wonderful insight because it means helping other people is a win-win (and it feels great too!).\

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\Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?\\

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When I was a first-year PhD student in engineering, I consistently struggled to get myself to the gym at the end of a long day of classes even though I knew getting regular exercise would boost my energy in the long run. And that wasn’t because I always turned straight to my problem sets and assigned readings, either—I tended to procrastinate on my schoolwork too because I needed a release at the end of a long day.\

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Midway through that first year of graduate school, after complaining again and again that I just couldn’t motivate myself to go to the gym, I had an idea about how I could simultaneously start exercising and stop procrastinating on schoolwork. I did something I’ve come to call “temptation bundling:” I started letting myself indulge in my guilty pleasure—novels like \Harry Potter\ and \The Da Vinci Code\—at the end of a long day, but only during trips to the gym. I’d get the books I wanted in audio form and listen while using the elliptical.\

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It worked like a charm. Suddenly, I started craving trips to the gym at the end of a long day to find out what would happen next in my latest novel, and I stopped procrastinating on schoolwork when I was home because I’d already enjoyed a guilty pleasure and a bit of release. Not only that, but I enjoyed my novel and my workout more combined—I didn’t feel guilty reading the novel, and time flew at the gym.\

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I’ve since done research showing that this “temptation bundling” technique can be useful to other people, too. It can help anyone who is trying to find ways to make something they ought to do more alluring (and waste less time on an indulgence in the bargain). \[Gretchen: I call this the \"\Strategy of Pairing\.\"]\\

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\Would you describe yourself as an \Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger\? \\

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Apparently I’m an Obliger. It’s certainly true that everything worth doing, I’ve found I do best when working with other people on a team. Accountability to my collaborators keeps me motivated and fulfilled.\

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\Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? \\

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Oh yes. I’ve found that disruptions to my routines can be a real challenge. One of my former PhD students, Hengchen Dai (now a professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management), did seminal research on just how troublesome disruptions can be when you’ve got a rhythm going. She showed this in controlled laboratory experiments, but she also has a wonderful study where she shows it affects the performance of Major League Baseball players when they’re traded to a new team. We’re all pretty susceptible to this. It’s funny because disruptions can be fantastic when you’re in a rut. But when you’re on a roll, they’re often a disaster.\

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\Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?\\

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Absolutely. I’ve had a lot of lightning bolt moments. In fact, the day I bought a new home was the day I decided I was ready for a big new adventure to go with it and decided to write my book! Observing this tendency in myself actually helped spur my research on the power of fresh starts. My collaborators and I have documented a “fresh start effect:” we proved that moments like birthdays, holidays, and even Mondays can cause us to step back and think bigger picture about our lives, which has a meaningful impact on our motivation to change. We feel more eager to take on new challenges and more disconnected from our past missteps at these kinds of fresh start moments because they give us the sense that we have a clean slate. And so we’re more likely to begin pursuing new goals, more open to setting money aside in a 401(k), and we’re even more likely to simply visit the gym.\ [Me again: I call this the \Strategy of First Steps\; also the \Strategy of the Clean Slate\.]\\

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\Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?\
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\

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I know this is hokey, but I love the saying “\Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars\.” I remember finding that quote etched into the paint in a bathroom stall at a Chinese restaurant my family visited regularly when I was a kid, and to my 10-year-old self, the words seemed really profound. Silly as it may sound, I’ve found it’s quite a useful mantra as an adult. When you aim high, things often don’t work out exactly as hoped, but you normally do end up somewhere pretty good (even if you don’t reach your most ambitious goal).\

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\Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?\\

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Absolutely. I read a book about behavioral economics by Richard Thaler called \The Winner’s Curse\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\) when I was a first year PhD student studying computer science and business, and I was so absolutely fascinated by it that I decided to change course and become a behavioral economist. The book is all about curious ways that people deviate from making optimal choices, and it made me fall in love with the field Thaler had helped found.\

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\In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?\\

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I’d say there’s a common misconception that behavioral scientists have come up with a handy bag of tricks that can be used efficiently to nudge people to make better decisions and that you can just pick a trick from that bag, set it to use in your life or organization, and change will follow. What drives me crazy about this is that yes, we’ve found a lot of really effective ways to change behavior for the better, but if you just pick a tactic haphazardly, you’ll likely be disappointed. What works depends on what’s obstructing change.\

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Let me give you a couple of examples. If people aren’t getting flu shots in your organization because they forget to show up at the on-site clinic on the one day when it’s open and no one reminds them, making the experience of getting a flu shot more enjoyable and efficient is unlikely to change behavior much. However, a well-timed reminder campaign could have a huge impact. But reminders can also fall flat if they’re matched with the wrong obstacle. If you run a hotel chain where some customers stubbornly refuse to re-use their towels (hurting the environment and your water bill) because they think re-use must be unhygienic, a reminder probably won’t help. But telling customers that the vast majority of guests re-use their towels at this very hotel may well change behavior substantially since it will disabuse holdouts of the notion that there’s something peculiar and unsanitary about re-using your hotel’s towels.\

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Hopefully these examples help illustrate the point I’m trying to make: we can get a lot farther, faster using science to help people change for the better if we first take stock of the obstacle we need to overcome and make sure the behavioral science solution we’re deploying is well-suited to tackle that obstacle.\

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\\\\

\n","excerpt":"\

Interview: Katy Milkman. Katy Milkman is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioral economics podcast Choiceology, and the former president of the international Society for Judgment and Decision Making. She’s also the co-founder and co-director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, a research center with the […]\

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The Four Tendencies explain \why we act\ and \why we don’t act\\. \Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.\

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Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.\

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\Interview: \\Greg McKeown.\\

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Greg McKeown is a CEO, author,  and social innovator. He has dedicated his career to discovering why some people and teams break through to the next level—and others don’t.\

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He's written for many publications, and is the author of the bestselling book \Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less \(\Amazon\, \Bookshop\). He also hosts the podcast \\What's Essential with Greg McKeown\\.\

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Now he has a new book that just hit the shelves: \Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\

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I couldn't wait to talk to Greg about happiness, habits, and creativity.\

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\Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?\\

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Greg: For more than 10 years, I have kept a journal. It’s a small practice that has paid huge dividends for me. Journaling gives me the opportunity to reflect on my day and allows me to see much of the otherwise invisible progress that I have made. It helps me recognize what I am most grateful for. And it gives me something that I can look back on every so often so I can recall many of the important moments, insights, or lessons I have learned along the way.\

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Perhaps more importantly, it will be something that my children and grandchildren can have one day when I am gone. Hopefully, they will be able to see, through my writing, what my experiences were like and what was most important to me.\

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\What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?\\

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Here’s a truth that took me far too long to realize: When you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have. When you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack. The importance of gratitude cannot be overstated. Gratitude is a powerful, catalytic thing. It starves negative emotions of the oxygen they need to survive. It also generates a positive, self-sustaining system wherever and whenever it is applied.\

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It’s easy to complain. Misfortune happens to us all. But over time, the toxicity of these negative emotions builds up robbing us of peace and contentment. On the other hand, when you focus on something you are thankful for, the effect is instant. It immediately shifts you from a lack state (regrets, worries about the future, the feeling of being behind) and puts you into a have state (what is going right, what progress you are making, what potential exists in this moment). It reminds you of all the resources, all the assets, all the skills you have at your disposal—so you can use them to more easily do what matters most.\

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\Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?\\

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One of my family’s favorite rituals is having dinner together every evening. It allows us to connect and reflect upon our day. It strengthens our relationships and brings us closer.\

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One of my children’s least favorite tasks was helping to clean up after dinner was over. It was amazing to see how quickly they could vacate the room, leaving my wife and me alone to clean up. Obviously, we determined that this habit could not continue. We wanted our children to learn responsibility and Anna and I didn’t want to be left a giant mess to clean up every night.\

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So, we turned after-dinner clean-up into a ritual. When it came time to clean up we turned on our favorite Disney soundtrack and we turned doing the dishes into a nightly dance and karaoke party. We combined something no one liked to do (but had to be done) with something everyone enjoyed. Now the kitchen gets cleaned up faster and everyone has a good time doing it.\

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We turn habits into rituals by pairing them with something we love to do. When we do this, we have the power to transform a tedious task into an experience that creates joy.\

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Our rituals are habits we have put our thumbprint on. Our rituals are habits with a soul.\

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\Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?\\

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A short time ago, my wife, Anna, and I had an incredibly frightening health scare with my daughter, Eve. Eve is a slim, brown-eyed, blond-haired girl with a mischievous grin. She simply cannot stay cross. Even when she tries to be grumpy, she can do it for only a few seconds before bursting into laughter.\

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But when Eve turned 14, things began to change. Our good-natured, fun-loving girl was replaced with one who was more sullen, had little energy, and didn’t seem to enjoy the things she used to. At first, I dismissed it as age-appropriate behavior. But, on a routine doctor’s visit, the doctor noticed Eve did not respond properly to basic reflex tests. He suggested we see a neurologist. We didn’t have to be told twice.\

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Her symptoms worsened on a daily basis. Within just a few weeks she could answer only in one-word sentences, speaking in a slurred and monotone voice. We noticed that the right-hand side of her body responded at a slower speed than the left-hand side. It took her two full minutes to write her name and hours to eat a meal. The light, once so vibrant and bright in Eve, dimmed. Then it seemed to go out entirely when she was hospitalized after a major seizure.\

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What made the situation worse was that the doctors couldn’t explain any of it. They could not offer us even the beginning of a diagnosis.\

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All we wanted in the world was for Eve to get better. That wasn’t just the most important thing. It was the only thing. What came into view for me was two paths for getting there. One made this challenging situation heavier. The other made this challenging situation lighter. And we had to choose which path to take. Maybe this choice seems obvious. But it wasn’t. As parents, our instinct was to attack the problem, with full force, from all directions: worrying about her 24/7, reaching out to every neurologist in the country, meeting with doctors one after the other, asking them a million questions, pulling all-nighters poring over medical journals and googling for a cure or even just a diagnosis, researching alternative medicine as a possible option. What the gravity of the situation called for, we assumed, was near-superhuman effort. But such an approach would have been unsustainable, while also producing disappointing results.\

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Mercifully, we took the second path. We realized that the best way to help our daughter, and our whole family, through this time was not by exerting more effort. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We needed to find ways to make every day a little easier. Why? Because we needed to be able to sustain this effort for an unknown length of time. It was not negotiable: we simply could not now or ever burn out. If your job is to keep the fires burning for an indefinite period of time, you can’t throw all the fuel on the flames at the beginning.\

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It’s been two years now. Eve continues to get better. She still has some ways to go, but as I write this we have reason to believe she will be completely healed. She smiles, laughs, and jokes. She walks, runs, and wrestles. She reads, she writes. She is thriving again.\

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What did I learn from this experience? Whatever has happened to you in life. Whatever hardship. Whatever pain. However significant those things are. They pale in comparison to the power you have to choose what to do now. You can make the choice to continue to work harder and harder, wearing yourself out in the process. Or, you can choose a more effortless path. One where you try and make each day a little easier.\

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\In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?\\

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One of the greatest misconceptions we live with today is that the only path to achieving great results is by working harder.\

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It doesn’t help that our culture glorifies burnout as a measure of success and self-worth. The implicit message is that if we aren’t perpetually exhausted, we must not be doing enough. That great things are reserved for those who bleed, for those who almost break.\

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Strangely, some of us respond to feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by vowing to work even harder and longer. It is true that hard work can equal better results. But this is true only to a point. After all, there’s an upper limit to how much time and effort we can invest.\

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But what if, instead of pushing ourselves past the point of burnout, we took the opposite approach? What if we sought out an easier path? I truly believe this to be the antidote to the epidemic of exhaustion so many of us are facing.\

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\n","excerpt":"\

Interview: Greg McKeown. Greg McKeown is a CEO, author,  and social innovator. He has dedicated his career to discovering why some people and teams break through to the next level—and others don’t. He’s written for many publications, and is the author of the bestselling book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Amazon, Bookshop). He also hosts the […]\

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Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.\

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\Interview: \\Matthew Barzun\.\

\n\

Matthew Barzun served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and to Sweden, and in business, he helped build CNET Networks. Now he has a new book out: \The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\

\n\

I couldn't wait to talk to Matthew about happiness, habits, and productivity.\

\n\

\Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?\\

\n\

Matthew: We live next to the biggest cemetery in Louisville, and every morning I take a half-hour walk along its winding roads. Muhammad Ali is buried there as is my wonderful deceased father-in-law and the twin sisters who wrote “Happy Birthday.” When the leaf blowers are farther in the distance and the Canada geese are not feeling particularly aggressive, it’s a contemplative and calming ritual.\

\n\

\What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?\\

\n\

I’ve learned that happiness is a lot like friendship. It’s best to let it emerge from other activities and efforts and not pursue it too directly. If you meet someone for the first time and say, “I really want you to be my good friend,” they might very well block your number. Happiness comes as a by-product and is never an achievement like climbing a mountain.\

\n\

\You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?\\

\n\

Well, it’s not scientific, but when I was ambassador to the UK I spoke to more than 20,000 British students in schools all over. I would ask them what their biggest frustration or confusion about the U.S. was. There were plenty of hot international issues they could have brought up—climate, Middle East, surveillance and privacy, etc. But the most common answer by a great deal about what frustrated them was none of those things. It was guns. Second was police brutality. The lesson is that our domestic policy is also our foreign policy.\

\n\

\Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?\\

\n\

I quit debating. I stopped trying to win arguments. I mean, who likes to lose them? No one. So what are we trying to win, exactly? Instead I learned (through mentors like Senator-and-then-President Obama) to listen first. I learned to ask about hopes and fears and to link them to my own. I even thought up an acronym to try to do it more: a.l.s.o. stands for ask, listen, serve and open up.  So often in the work world we are taught to do the opposite, what I think of as the capital ALSO: Argue, Lecture, Strategize, and Organize.\

\n\

\Would you describe yourself as an \Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger\?\\

\n\

I took the test twice and got same answer both times: Rebel. I didn’t agree. I am rebelling against the label rebel…so I guess it must be on to something. If it must be so, then what I am rebelling against is what I call the “Pyramid mindset” – the perspective that it always looking to assess who or what is higher or lower, who is winning or losing, or who is in or out of what group. I want us all to rebel against that.\

\n\

\Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)\\

\n\

Someone once told me to imagine the following: You are commuting on a crowded subway or bus or you’re on a flight and there is someone next to you manically sorting and sifting through a huge pile of postal mail—opening up bills, junk mail, catalogs, letters, postcards. You would try to sit a bit further away from that anxious, self-absorbed energy.  Well, too often that is me. That is so many of us. So, the long-winded answer to what interferes with happiness: email.\

\n\

\Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?\\

\n\

I’ll save readers the longer story, but I had been asked for the first time in my like to raise money for a presidential campaign. I was awful. I’d been taught never to discuss religion, politics or money and fundraising in Kentucky was, at a minimum, two out of three. Then I was seated next to a remarkable woman named Lynne Twist at a dinner and I shared my woes with her. She listened and nodded and then gave me three pieces of advice: 1) Money is like water; when it flows it heals and when it’s stagnant it kills; 2) Only ask people who want to use money for a cause greater than themselves; 3) Ask everyone. This changed my whole perspective. Asking is about working with people and not getting something from them.\

\n\

\Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?\
\n\
\

\n\

“Metaphors are misleading, but they are the least misleading things we have,” from the writer Samuel Butler. I love thinking and writing with them because I think they lurk behind so much of how we see the world. Many of us have inherited from our religions or our various ancestries a view of the world that is ordered by rank and segmented into discrete parts. But that all springs from a metaphor what I call the pyramid—one that not everyone shares, believe it or not. In fact, the idea of America (if not the reality) was meant to buck that metaphor for a more naturalistic one. They used the metaphor of a Constellation, which signified interdependence. You are star, but not a star that other planets revolve around like the sun (we all know those types). You are a star among other stars and you can make new connections to make something bigger than you ever could alone.\

\n\

\Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?\\

\n\

“Our political life is stagnating, capital and labor are virtually at war, the nations of Europe are at one another’s throats—because we have not yet learned how to live together…Crowd philosophy, crowd government, crowd patriotism must go. The herd is no longer sufficient to enfold us.” Sounds pretty familiar today but it was written nearly 100 years ago after our last global pandemic. The author is Mary Parker Follett and the book is \\Creative Experience\\. Follett came to me almost like a talisman in a mythical story as I was in the middle of writing my book. Many of the ideas I had been wrestling with had been articulated beautifully a century before by this genius who was one of the biggest names on the lecture circuit in the 1920s before her legacy was totally erased by men with competing ideas.\

\n\

\In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?\\

\n\

If I asked you to draw or doodle an image that conveyed “new idea,” what would you draw? Was it a lightbulb? Google the word “idea” in google images and you will see thousands of lightbulbs and they are nearly all identical - they are all alone, floating mysteriously in space, disconnected to anything and yet illuminated with little yellow lines radiating to indicate this. That is a visual cliché we all have in our minds. And it is deeply misleading about the true power of ideas and the nature of innovation. It makes it seem as if you wait there alone for the magic to strike and then—voila—you get an idea and the light comes on. That’s not true. An idea is at best an \un\lit lightbulb. You need to add two things—the same two things that it takes to light up a real lightbulb. First a source of power and second a connection.\

\n\

\\\\

\n","excerpt":"\

Interview: Matthew Barzun. Matthew Barzun served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and to Sweden, and in business, he helped build CNET Networks. Now he has a new book out: The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go (Amazon, Bookshop). I couldn’t wait to talk to […]\

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The Four Tendencies explain \why we act\ and \why we don’t act\\. \Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.\

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Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.\

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\\Interview: \\\\Lisa Miller\\\

\n\

Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is the \New York Times\ bestselling author of \The Spiritual Child\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\) and a professor in the clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the founder and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology, and has held over a decade of joint appointments in the department of psychiatry at Columbia medical school.\

\n\

Now she has a new book: \The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\

\n\

I couldn't wait to talk to Lisa about happiness, health, and spirituality.\

\n\

\\Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?\\\

\n\

\Lisa: Each morning I start by igniting my Awakened Brain, which I consider to be a kind of neural docking station of spirituality. This can be achieved in all kinds of ways—meditation, yoga, a deep breathing exercise, jotting a few sentences down in a gratitude journal—but the method that resonates most for me is one in which I take a moment of quiet and bring my awareness to the perception that I am one with the universe, loved, held and guided by our higher power, and thus, never alone.\\

\n\

\Then I begin sending love to all living beings around our home; I visualize the ducks and geese, and trees, and even the otter out there on the river behind my house. \ \\\

\n\

\In this way, I am prepared to offer G-d an opening prayer and give thanks for the sun and air, earth and water, the forces of growth and renewal of which we are all a part.\  \And only then do I make my requests: I ask for all the usuals—health, wholeness, love and guidance for our family and friends, and for the animals and other living organisms which I consider myself privileged to share this earth with.\ \\\

\n\

\Everything throughout the day, the difficult colleague at work, the dog not going inside, my teenage children spending too much money, and all the larger life decisions that we make in a day are shaped by this Awakened Awareness.\\

\n\

\\What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?\\\

\n\

\I wish that someone had warned me, whether a doctor, psychologist, parent or teacher, that just like clockwork you are going to face a tough depression around sophomore year of college. The “sophomore slump,” we call it. I wish someone could have explained that this depression would likely not be psychopathology, nor would it reflect a medical illness, but rather it would be situational, and most importantly, \temporary\. Like roughly two-thirds of young adults, depression will be part of a life-changing existential struggle to figure out the nature of life itself.\  \The developmental depression coming your way is part of laying the foundation for the rest of your life, and it can be anticipated, mitigated, and leveraged into a more fulfilling engagement with life.\\

\n\

\\You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?\\\

\n\

\The answer here is twofold. Together with my colleagues at Columbia medical school, we were studying the neuroanatomical correlates of spirituality. Meaning, we wanted to know if there were physically identifiable differences in the brains of spiritually engaged versus non-spiritually engaged people.\\

\n\

\Now, before we ran the study, I already had a strong hunch that there would be a meaningful association between sustained personal spirituality and cortical thickness in the brain (i.e. strength), but as you might suspect, scientists are not allowed to submit their “hunches” for peer review—and for good reason. Such lines of inquiry can lead to confirmation bias that spoils the data.\\

\n\

\But often over the course of my career, I’ve found that these intuitive suspicions have often turned out to be true, and have, with time, become welcome, pleasant surprises, even if I then have to back them up with hard science.\\

\n\

\In this case, the science bore out to be true: two years after my initial hunch, our research found that there are broad and pervasive regions of cortical thickness that go hand in hand with a sustained spiritual awareness. That spiritual engagement and awareness produced a visibly stronger brain—better insulated from mental illnesses like anxiety and depression—was a jaw dropping discovery, and a sacred moment all the same. \\

\n\

\\Would you describe yourself as an \Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger\?\\\

\n\

\ The quiz identifies me as an Upholder, which feels right. Some might think that, because of the nature of my research that I might be a Rebel or a Questioner, but in reality, the work that I do in fact “upholds” what I already, intuitively have felt to be true, in my life, and in the world at large. The science is merely my way of confirming that.\\

\n\

\\Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness?\\\

\n\

\While not an interference, I find, like many people might, that traveling sharpens my Awakened Awareness. Traveling is an excellent way to tap into this spiritual perception of life. When you travel, there are always surprises, detours, or changes of course.\  \Trail Angels appear in the form of a stranger to change your flat tire, or a fascinating seat mate on an airplane who gives you an idea for something you had already been thinking about. This kind of thing happens to me often. Unexpected obstacles and tricky situations show that “adversity” is often mis-recognized as \synchronicity\, which can bump us into better alignment with life, if only we are open to and anticipating it.\\

\n\

\On the road, it is clear that we do not control life, we do not really know what is coming next.\  \The Achieving Awareness driven by strategy and tactics can break down.\  \We make on a voyage when we are in a two-way dance with life, we can embrace a vital dialogue with life.\  \This is the stance of what I call Quest: \\a way of living, a discovery that we bring home to regular life at the office or carpool pick up. Quest is a way of living in a dynamic relationship with life.\ \\\

\n\

\I recall as a child living in Europe for the my third grade year. I could not speak a word to the other children in Belgium and France, but we definitely connected and played for hours in the park. I could feel the hue of their spirit, knew who they reminded me of back home. \ \\\

\n\

\Humans definitely do not control life, we are in a dialogue with the G-d, or the living force in and through the world. How can we engage our Awakened Brain to start dialoguing?\ \Simply ask the question, “What is life showing me now?\  \What does my deep inner wisdom say about that? \ \\\

\n\

\\Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?\\\

\n\

\It is a prayer that I say before any important moment, “G-d please work through me here and now to serve you in love.\" I pray before I do anything important.\ \I pray it out loud on behalf of my family before meals, and before I give a talk or write a difficult paper.\ \\\

\n\

\Then its not just the Achieving Awareness in me, shoulder to the wheel, pushing hard, working alone. Instead through Awakened Awareness I start to perspective, there is a force of life, spirit, working through use.\ \I am grateful for the novel insights or type of words that come. \ \\\

\n\

\Invite in spirit to direct the moment, and I am delighted by the right loving, guiding or healing, message appears as needed for the people in the room.\   \\\

\n\

\\Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why? \ \\\\

\n\

\\ \When I was 17 years old I discovered a copy of \The Only Dance There Is; Talks at the Menninger Foundation 1970 and Spring Grove Hospital 1972\ by Ram Dass (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\\

\n\

\His spirit and deep knowing were held in the stories of his book, conveyed through his language of immediacy. Suddenly I realized that my entire life I had been in a type of epistemological exile—and that I just discovered my intellectual homeland.\   \\\

\n\

\Foremost I was delighted by acknowledgement of\  \the greatest sacred force in life, Dass was clear about his view that being cut off from spiritual awareness is a form of mental illness. He held out the possibility that cultivating transcendent awareness could be healing, perhaps the antidote to mental suffering. \ \\\

\n\

\After all the books that I had read in high school comporting a latent secular materialism, I felt like someone finally made sense. Dass set my spirit free.\   \\\

\n\

\He lived authentically. His presence on the page was pure and enlivening.\\

\n\

\Dass and I did have one difference in our paths, that I fully honor on both sides. He left academia to discover deep truth. My path is different, I am a woman, career academic, and a mother.\ \I find my truth in the witness of spirit through my children, the portrait of numbers in science, and the thrilling experience of sharing the science of spirituality to see it awaken people! Were the problem sited by Doss real, yes. And our times are so different, he opened the door amidst radical secular materialism. I have chosen to make my home in the middle of society, to see the sacred in my children, the animals in our backyard, and all of every day life.\ \\\

\n\

\\In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?\\\

\n\

\Yes! Depression is a gateway to Awakening. For the majority of people, depression can be engaged as a “knock at the door” for growth and expanded awareness. Depression signals that we are out of alignment with the deep spiritual nature of life.\ \Yesterday that may have been ok. Today however, given your inherent trajectory of growth, it is not a choice, you must deepen further to connect with spirit or G-d for the next phase of service.\\

\n\

\Honoring the call of depression can start with asking the simple question: “What is life telling me now?” and, “What does my inner wisdom say about it?” Reflect and imagine, offer a prayer or meditation, serve another living being, guide yourself, a colleague or a friend in a spiritual visualizations (as in \\The Awakened Brain\\), pay attention to synchronicities including sudden encounters with people or an animal. Depression grab this moment to grow your spiritual awareness. Depression is the chance of your lifetime.\ \\\

\n\

\\\\

\n","excerpt":"\

Interview: Lisa Miller Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spiritual Child (Amazon, Bookshop) and a professor in the clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the founder and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology, and has held over a […]\

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Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.\

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\\Interview: \\\\Rachel Herz\\\

\n\

Dr. Rachel Herz is a neuroscientist and leading world expert on the psychological science of smell. She has been conducting research on the sense of smell, emotion, perception, motivated behavior and cognition since 1990. She is a \TEDx speaker\, has published over 85 original research papers, received numerous awards and grants, and co-authored scholarly handbooks. She is also on the faculty at Brown University and Boston College.\

\n\

Her books include \The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell \(\Amazon\, \Bookshop\), \That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion \(\Amazon\, \Bookshop\), and most recently, \Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\).\

\n\

Because of my interest in the five senses, I've read each of those books—they all dive into subjects that fascinate me—and I couldn't wait to talk to Rachel about happiness, good habits, and the five senses.\

\n\

\\Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?\\\

\n\

\Rachel: Walking outdoors always makes me feel better. I am lucky to live in an area with lots of pretty houses, water, and woods, though the absence of sidewalks and the presence of speeding cars means that getting completely lost in a reverie can be treacherous. Nevertheless, walking for at least 20 minutes with the fresh air on my face and letting my thoughts wander invariably answers the moment’s need, whether it be trying to feel a little happier and healthier, finding inspiration for writing creatively, or solving a scientific problem.\ \\\

\n\

\\What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?\\\

\n\

\I have learned over time to trust that things will get better with time. In my mid-30s I read Alistair MacLeod’s wonderful book \No Great Mischief\ (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\) and a phrase of wisdom that has stuck with me ever since and that I have found to be surprisingly true is (and I paraphrase) that \everything gets better with time, except a pebble in your shoe\. Trusting that no matter how bad things seem, the pain/confusion/anxiety/sadness will eventually lessen, and that I can say “at least X… isn’t also happening” makes the current ordeal a little less upsetting and distressing, and reassures me that I will be happy again.\\

\n\

\\You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?\ \\\\

\n\

\My favorite experimental result, because it was so surprising, easy to observe, and has had a big impact in my field, is that language can create illusions in our perception of scents. In my original experiment, I used five “ambiguous” scents— scents that could potentially be more than one thing, and have both negative and positive possible connotations—and I presented these scents to people with opposing labels such as “parmesan cheese” or “vomit.” Participants in the experiment sniffed at white cotton that had taken on the odor of the various mixtures that represented the ambiguous scents (there was never a “real thing”), and then responded to the scent they thought they were smelling. First, perhaps not so surprisingly, people said they would do entirely different things with what they were sniffing as a function of the label I had supplied, such as “eat it” or “run out of the room” and that they “loved” or “hated” what they were smelling because of the label. But most intriguingly, almost no one would believe me when I told them that they were smelling the exact same scent in each instance. Nearly everyone said that there was “no way” they could be smelling the same scent. But it was exactly the same. All I had done was change the way I described it. Like a magician with words in my hat instead of a bunny I had created the illusion of a completely different scent, and I had done it with words alone.\\

\n\

\\Would you describe yourself as an \Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger\?\\\

\n\

\I just took the quiz and I’m a “Questioner.” I didn’t know anything about the quiz before I took it, and I’m happy to get this result. I believe it to be true and it makes sense with my being a scientist.\\

\n\

\\Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)\\\

\n\

\Traveling is the worst for me in terms of keeping healthy habits. Whether for work or pleasure my exercise routine usually ceases and my eating routine becomes totally hedonistic when I am away from home. Fortunately, my excursions usually don’t last longer than a week. Also, and I think this is important, I can appreciate the pleasure that I’m experiencing during my reckless abandon, and know that when I return I will get back to stricter self-care. This in itself is mindful, which is a healthy approach. The difficulties can come in when travel is longer than a week. If this is the case, I find it much harder to revert to healthier ways, especially vigorous exercise, and really have to force myself back into a healthy routine.\\

\n\

\\Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?\\\

\n\

\\The Unbearable Lightness of Being\ by Milan Kundera (\Amazon\, \Bookshop\) had a pivotal and profound impact on me when I first read it and even more so when I re-read it. It inspired in me a fundamental philosophy of life and gave me a cosmic understanding of my connection to the universe, which has made me feel less ultimately alone and finite—and thus happier.\\

\n\

\\In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?\\\

\n\

\I really want people to know that when we talk about how food “tastes,” we almost always mean “flavor”, and flavor comes from our nose, not our tongue. We say “taste” because the food is in our mouth, but what is primarily producing the exquisite sensation from eating a fresh peach is coming from our nose. What we perceive through our sense of taste is just salt, sour, sweet, bitter (and if you want to include it) umami. Everything else we perceive when we eat is due to aroma, which gets to our nose through a small opening at the back of our mouth. The flavor of bacon is due to the aroma of bacon when we’re munching on a strip. The taste of bacon is just salt. Likewise, the flavor of a peach is due to its aroma—the taste is simply sweet with a touch of sour bite. You probably already know this if you’ve ever been really congested while eating and find that food “tastes” like nothing. This is because your nose is blocked and the aroma molecules from the soufflé in your mouth can’t get to your nose. This is why people who have lost their sense of smell have great difficulties with food experiences. Ultimately it is our brain that makes flavor. Our brain knits together the sensations of smell from our nose and taste on our tongue and produces our experience of food flavor.\\ \\

\n\

\\I want to shine a spotlight on anything that you’d particularly like to bring to readers’ attention.\\\

\n\

\When you’re not in state of physical hunger, the simplest, most useful thing I learned while working on my most recent book \\\Why You Eat What You Eat\\\ is that to have a happier and healthier relationship with food, all you need to do is balance the equation of:\ pleasure from eating something indulgent with the outcome you want to avoid\. So, for example, with every bite of decadent chocolate cake I ask myself: “is the pleasure ‘in’ worth (or worthy of) the consequence ‘out’?”\ \For the first several bites the answer is invariably “yes,” but as I continue to eat the balance begins to tip negatively and when it does, I stop. By engaging in this brief self-questioning we are more in the moment and thus getting more from the experience of the delicious food. Most importantly, we are able to eat anything we want and we learn to trust ourselves that we won’t have regrets. [\From Gretchen: Spoken like a true \Moderator\!]\\
\n\
\

\n\

\\\\

\n","excerpt":"\

Interview: Rachel Herz Dr. Rachel Herz is a neuroscientist and leading world expert on the psychological science of smell. She has been conducting research on the sense of smell, emotion, perception, motivated behavior and cognition since 1990. She is a TEDx speaker, has published over 85 original research papers, received numerous awards and grants, and co-authored […]\

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The Four Tendencies explain \why we act\ and \why we don’t act\\. \Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.\

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Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.\

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