Ep. 281: Start a Social-Issues Book Club, a Deep Dive into the Problem of Flaky Friends, a Hack for Great Quotations, and a Spotlight on Author Jason Reynolds.
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Hello and welcome to happier podcast where we discussed cutting edge science, the wisdom of the ages lessons from pop culture and our own experiences about how to be happier this week we'll talk about why you might start a social issues, but club and take a deep dive into a happiness stumbling block raised by a listener, the problem of flaky friends who say they'll show up and then don't. I'm Gretchen Rubin writer who. Studies happiness good habits in human nature I in my Home Office in New York City and with my sister Elizabeth Pratt list. You never flake out on me. That's me Elizabeth Craft. TV writer and producer living in La and Brench I may not play out on you, but I have flaked out on others. Admit we've all done it? Yes, before we jump in, we got an interesting update from a listener. Adrian says I'm a little behind, but I just listened to the episode with the try this at home idea about doing something in the midst of the Black Lives Matter Movement and current events I to felt stuck about what to do, or how to help as I thought about it, I realized one. One thing I can do is encourage voting and promote voter registration, so I joined reclaim our vote as a volunteer by sending postcards, encouraging voter registration to people in states where voter suppression and registration is rampant. This has helped me to focus some of my time and energy in a positive way that at least in my mind is not partisan, but truly American. So that's a great way, we. Do something and she dials something analyst with our try. This at home is something that you found to do which is to start or join a social issues book club Yes so I did not start this, but I have joined a social issues book club. A friend of mine was told about this book club and she said it sounded like something that might appeal to you and I immediately said Yes for sure. Sure because we've talked a lot about educating ourselves, especially issues of racial justice, yes, and reading those books, but I thought a way to make sure is an obliged her read. A lot is to join a book club where I have a time and a date to doc about them, and what I really also like about this particular book couple first of all. It's Zoom Book Club. I should say it's A. As the Times dictate its nobody that I know which interest because I always like meeting. New People and it's multi generational, so there will be younger people in the group, which I think will be really helpful to hear the different perspectives, and is this group where each month you choose a book together or just? The group come west sort of a curriculum that you read through their suggestions. How does that work in this group? The people who started it are picking the books. Books, the first one is white fragility. I'm reading that now and then I. Think they'll just tell us what the book is every month and they've hired a moderator believe it's a woman who has a PhD from Ucla to moderate so I think that'll be really helpful. In terms of having focused discussion. What I think it's great to have somebody to help. Pick up the books because there's so many books now that people are talking about. It's nice to have somebody like. This one and this is really good, and this'll be a good conversation because I think. Sometimes it's easy to think. Oh, my gosh, like where should I start? And then that becomes kind of a decision fatigue. This book you have to read yeah no question South yes. Well, you'll have to report back to us when you get started Ri- will, and I think this would be a great thing for people who wanted to this kind of reading and our again. Maybe you're obliged or you want to. Everybody can benefit from accountability. It's funded to any group for any reason. If this is a way to put your values into action, I think a lot of people are talking about like our listener wanting to do something. This is a way to have a conversation. Educate Yourself. Get together with people who also are concerned about equality, racial justice, criminal justice and and. And WanNA become more informed, so it seems like a very efficient way to achieve a lot of really happiness boosting ends. Yes, so let us do try this at home and how starting joining a social. Issues Book Group works for you. Let us know an instagram twitter facebook opposite email at Pike Gretchen. Rubin Dot Com, or as you can go to. The show notes for this episode. This happier cast dot com slash two eighty one for everything related to this episode. Yeah Gretchen I, think right now when we are all trying to figure out what we can do, this is a way to. Educate myself start the conversation and figure out. What can I do to laying the groundwork? Yes, coming up, we've got an aphorism happiness. Hack the first this break. If you're out of clean loungewear. Mix things up by changing into Beta brands dress pants, yoga pants. They're as comfortable as your PJ's. And their professional style will make you feel like you actually got dressed for the day. Women love these pants because they fit so well, I can attest to that Gretchen. Rate. Many, dress pants are uncomfortable. They dig into your skin. You have the urge ton, but them while stuck in traffic I have done that or rip them off the minute you get home, not Beta brand there are tons of different colors and styles to choose from like boot, cut, straight legs, skinny cropped pocket and more I have just the straight leg, black ones, and I love them. They're comfortable. Comfortable and they look great right now. Our listeners can get twenty five percent off their first order. When you go to Beta brand dot com slash happier. That's twenty five percent off your first order for a limited time. At Beta brand dot com slash happier. Find Out why women are buying five to print pairs of pants, a Beta brand dot com slash happier for twenty five percent off. Okay now. It's time for a happiness hack and I love this one because as I say off in I, love aphorisms. Y- Gretchen. This comes from Elizabeth. She says I have recently fallen in love with the idea of resumes and quotes. Thanks to you, too. It is amazing. The way one good saying can refocus your attention and set your day in the right direction. A happiness hack I'm exploring is. is to make posters of my favorite quotes and put them in places that I see often above the kitchen sink in the closet door at eye level in my office space I find I need to remind myself and my values and combining color and beautiful ball art with my favorite quotes will help. Remind me of what is truly important in my life. I also love the idea of having. Having a tablet or flip book that changes the quote based on your goals for the week slash month. Is it a season of sacrifice than you might need? Quotes related to discipline vacation, and maybe a quote about living in the present and feeling. Every moment would be better. I wonder a shudder fly would be a good way to make posters like these to hear what other podcast listeners have. Have done to incorporate quotes into their environments. Where did they put them? How do they decide what quotes to use for what situations and how do they use to enhance the existing environment I'm sure someone has already found a great method to do this. I love this. Because of course I love quotations. I love APHORISMS and I. do think she's exactly right that sometimes just finding this very compelling. pithy articulation of an idea just really helps focus you on something on a value or aspiration, and they're just beautifully said so. It's a pleasure to read them. Yes, Sarah, my writing partner and Co host of Happier Hollywood does this Gretchen? She even had a piece of Art Commission for her bathroom. That says how motivated are you? And when she hung it up, she had painted so that when it's on the wall, it reflects in the year. Correct way. Oh, she's a big believer. In that she also has has as her screen saver, a motivational quote Oh. That's a great idea. For a long time. It was killed the Crock, which is a long story about a dream Sarah had and once she killed a crock and conquered her demons. Oh, that's a great way to do it. We often have the advertiser frame bridge. This is not an ad from frame Ridge, but I will note. They make it super easy to frame. Frame things so you could send a j pag or a photo that has a quotation on it and get it framed very easily that way I think people are GonNa have great ideas about how they've incorporated great quotations and APHORISMS and so send us your solutions. How do you do it? We WanNa hear and we will pass those along. Yeah, Gretch mine isn't pretty, but what I do is I, write it on a sticky note and stick it on my computer monitor. Yeah, it's. It's a class works. Is it works and a spotlight on a black author this week? The spotlight is on Jason Reynolds Jason Reynolds is one of the preeminent writers of Children's and young adult literature today as I've said many times, I love children's literature and Young Adult Literature, so I love his work. He has written many bestselling novels as well as poetry and a graphic novel. His work has won the credit. Scott, King, award, the National Book Award, Finalist Kirca's prize and WC image. Image Aboard Newbery Honor Book. A prince on her book an editor, Ward various best books of the year along the way and in January. He was named as the Library of Congress's national ambassador. Bridge Young People's literature suicide of national position and I have read to have his books. The first is look both ways. A Tale told in ten blocks and long way down Both of these are terrific. He does very interesting things to structure which I love interesting things with structure. And I just finished long way down. It has a twist that I will not reveal I will say I was initially reluctant to read the book because it is in verse which I was like. But. I had heard so many good things about it. I decided to give it a go, and I really loved it and hears about to book. fifteen-year-old will's older brother has been shot and killed will find his brother's gun and gets on the elevator to head down from his eighth floor apartment to get revenge, but it's a long way down to the ground floor and in each floor. A different person gets on to tell a story, so it's mesmerizing a super page Turner and this is interesting. I read about the book. Reynolds was moved to write the book by his visits to juvenile detention centers where he frequently encounters, children caught. Caught, in a cycle of violence, that, under slightly different circumstances might have been his own reynolds has said that after his own friends murder, he and other friends plan to seek revenge, but never did so as the perpetrator wasn't conclusively identified something he looked back on and realized how lucky that was so next up from him. I WanNa read ghost, which is the person to series as brave as you all American boys and I will throw in just this merch. He published a very timely book called stamped racism anti-racism, and you a Remix of the National Book Award winning staff from the beginning by Abram Kennedy. Which of course is like? That nobody can get their hands on now. So this is a reimagining of that book so now trying to get my hands on stamped, so if you like graphic novels fiction if you'd like non. Jason. Reynolds sounds great. I want to read long way down. It's really good. Okay, Gretchen, now it is time for a deep dive in episode two seventy seven, we talked about a question from a listener who was frustrated, because she and a friend started a film group to see films together. Certain friends flaked out over and over. So. We asked listeners what they thought about the situation and we got such a huge response to this question. So many people responded with really long heartfelt discussions about the problem. I think what we've realized is that we have all dealt with this and most of us on both. We have been the flaker and the flaky, and so to some some big responses of categories before we get into particular answers. Is that one big theme is that people think it's more polite to say yes. They WANNA be ren lean enthusiastic. They have no intention of actually going, but they want to say yes, so they say yes, because they don't want hurt your feelings. And what I've noticed is if someone is saying Oh. Let's pick a night like what is a good night for you. It's hard to say no to that because they're open ended. You can't just say well. You know a parent. Clock Never? And so. That can make it hard to say no. If you really don't have an intention of going, the other thing is if someone offers date sometimes, you don't want to even get involved in whether it's time or not, so you just say yes to any night knowing you probably won't go right so you save yourself the hassle of weighing in because you're like an I'm not going to go anyway, so part of it is. People think it's more to say yes, and then there's people who say yes, because of the fantasy self. The plan sounds good in theory, and they feel really enthusiastic about it when it's in the future, but then the press of real life makes it too hard. Hard like life is just too complicated. You, you can't get yourself to go or many people pointed out because of social anxiety a lot of times people wanna go, and but then they they become very anxious, and they just end up feeling like it wouldn't be fun or they don't WanNa go. Yes, so these these are some big themes, and here's an interesting point that I hadn't realized, but it makes perfect sense. Many people pointed out that they wouldn't flake out on a friend like a one on one, but if it's a group, get together. They feel like. Oh, it's okay, because all these other people are doing. It doesn't matter if I don't come and they don't realize okay. Three quarters of the group is doing that, so I thought a whole bunch of friends. We're going to go out and now it's just me and my one same friend. So, there's something about the group that makes people feel. It's kind of the diffusion of responsibility. It seems like it doesn't matter if I come or not, so nobody will care if I if I flake. Yes, however you may not be the only one not showing up thousand, the case of the listeners film club, and so suddenly a lot of people don't show up. It ruins the whole event. Yeah, and here's an idea. This is a concept. Concept that I learned in law school. It's very useful and the idea of acting in reliance, so acting underlines is like. If you and I have been talking, you're saying you're GonNa rent my apartment and we don't have a signed contract, but you're like. I'm only going to rent it. If you you know, replace the refrigerator and I'm like okay. I will and I do I spent. Money acted in reliance on the fact that you're going. Going to rent the suburban, and then if you're like at no, I'm not going to well. I'm out money and so I've acted in reliance and so here like you talk about Sarah as a single mom. It's babysitting for her. She's got it. Ranged I just got a paper that she's acting in reliance on the fact that people have said yes, and so it's not a classless thing like Oh, we'll just say yes to be friendly. Friendly, where somebody might be acting and reliance, and or like. Maybe there's some. They had another opportunity to do something that night and they turned down because they felt committed to you, so you? You want to understand that it's not cost less to just say a friendly sure because that might leave other people in the lurch. Yes, but what we really got to keep in mind. Graduates comes up over, and over again is to have compassion. Speak because often people dealing with really tough situations, and we just don't know about it. Yes, over and over listeners explained situations and other people might not have been aware of them but I. Just couldn't do it, and so to cut people slack show compassion. We've all done it and to really. The fact that we don't know about other people's lives, so let's hear what some listeners said Becca said sadly I am a person who cancels on things I used to cancel much more often than I do now because I noticed this pattern, and now I just say no more frequently so I'm not in a position to have to cancel I. Think there are many reasons people. People do this, but for many of us. We are overwhelmed. I might hear about an event or an evening or a group and think how wonderful that is just what I need. That will be great, etc, inevitably the week or night rolls around and I think what was I. Think I agree to that and I canceled I. Often feel sad that my life is so hectic. At work, but I also feel extremely relieved. Yeah, I mean I think that's position. A lot of people are in is like it sounds great in theory. But the the press of life makes it very hard to do it, and she says she's trying to say no more often so that she isn't flaking out. which I guess Holly, says canceling plans. No longer something I battle, but for a period of time this happened frequently. I would make plants get ready by the gift purchase a ticket. Make the dish to share and send the I'm on my way taxed, but never make it out the door. We'd take all of those steps to hold myself accountable. Accountable, but ultimately it wasn't enough. I had crippling anxiety and depression. The worst part was I knew I would feel so much better if I would have gone to the event movie party, etc, I would have fund. It would be good for me to get out once I canceled I always felt even worse now. Not only do I feel bad, but had let my friends down as well. Holly says now she doesn't. This is no longer a battle for her. which is great, but this is something that. That was going on for her for a time. And I think we don't realize how many people have such anxiety around to events like this. You and I don't experience that naughtily. Yes, but a lot of people do Christine said I have a different spin on last minute cancelling plans. My late husband was an alcoholic, if I had plans, and he was drunk, and our kids were home I would cancel at the last minute. I know lots of people just take making breaking plans lightly and that is. Is Frustrating but I just wanted to give another perspective. And that goes Gretchen to the idea that we really don't know what's going on in people's lives, and that you know always good to cut them slack absolutely, and this is a great. That's a great example and here's someone raising a new angle Sam rights I am someone who flakes out last minute and say the number one reason why is because the end time of the event or meet up is not respected, or there's no in time to. To begin with I don't like staying up late and also have a nightly routine. I like to do. It makes me not want to go to the book club or especially lately joined Azuma hang out because they tend to drag on forever. It is hard to politely leave Zoom. It gets all being the first one at an in person. meet up to say gotta go. My advice to any house would be to set an end time and stick to it. Okay, good advice. Some people don't like having. Having an end time. They think it's rude because it's like I can only deal with you for these three hours or the two hours, so that could go either way right, so it seems like there's a disconnect about what's thoughtful is more thoughtful to say. Yes, and cancel or to say no upfront. Yes, so Jenny said I often agree to social engagements, but I'm an introvert and need a lot of time alone or just at home with my husband and our pets. I am generally uncomfortable large gatherings. Gatherings, more than six people am also not the kind of woman who needs a girls night out i. have a handful of very close friends indefinitely make sure they spend time and energy nurturing. These relationships spit adopt feel the need for many casual friends is some people seem to have? And we'll often initially agreed to a group social event, because I don't want to hurt someone's feelings or maybe even think I might attend, but will almost always cancel the day before because I. Don't really WANNA GO I. I am a rebel, so if I feel any external pressure to attend, I will certainly not attend. Will One thing I would point out is okay, so jenny has her close friends that she really pays close attention to but I think one reason. Many people are in want to do these groups. They're looking to make those clothes. Yes, and so if you're not interested in making a close friend, maybe you should say no, because they're like I'm really looking to forge those friendships with you already have. You don't you're I'm not that important to you but I want to find people who buy important so again. It's like people are coming to with like a different set of desires and expectations. Here's a helpful observation from Kathleen, she says I have a friend who frequently tries to plan variations on the theme of movie night. Now it is my practice to say no taken separately. Monthly commitment doesn't seem like much, but when monthly commitment start to accumulate, they become. Burn some at the cost of spontaneity. Well, that's true, Gretchen like with book. If you have a book club in a poker nights on Amazon night, a parent, thing and yeah. So I. Think it's good sometimes to do things every other month. While my kidney group, we meet every six weeks or maybe every seven to eight weeks depending on where we are in the calendar because we did feel like every month. To frequent and that people would then not come, because it would just be too much, so yeah like there's no, there's no rule that says things have to be weekly or monthly. You can pick different. You can do it quarterly. Once a year, but I think the big thing. Though that emerged from what a lot of people said was that we should just remember compassion and to cut people slack, but here's the thing where I think people don't know also as the inviter. It's some people said. I! WanNa come. You know I'm in a season of sacrifice or someday. When the dust settles, and my life is more manageable, I would love to come, so don't. Don't forget me. Don't write me off, but then I think other people feel resentful, and they keep asking me and put me on the spot. And I feel unfriendly and I can't say no every time so eventually. I have to say yes, even though I don't want to. Maybe. Try to be transparent about. If you want somebody to keep asking say hey, keep asking me one of these days I'm going to or you could just say hey. I'll let you know when I feel like my schedule's opened up. And maybe that's never tell people what you want because they might be trying to be friendly in what they think you would welcome and they don't realize that it's kind of rubbing you the wrong way, yes. Yes and here's a final note for people who do show up Jan, which is something you've observed. Yes, first of all for the people who com-, it is a really big drag when people who are there talk about how people flaked out, it can lead to kind of a sour atmosphere, so I wouldn't talk about a lot. When the group is meeting and I also would say and I say this. I said this in many book group meetings. Is that I really believe that whoever comes whatever the number it is the right number and I have been in book group meetings for two people, three people, and often those were wonderful meetings, and I just feel like whoever is there is meant to be there. Every person changes the dynamic, and so whoever is there? It's going to be a one of a kind of experience and just embrace it. Whoever is there is an entity there? Good Point. It was fascinating to hear. People had such passionate responses. Clearly, people have thought about this a lot. Yes, we all deal with it. You know every day every month every year, so yeah, it's going to keep coming up. It's the calendar coming up. Gretchen gives herself a Barnaby related to merit, but I just break. Let's talk about some of our favorite socks features. Yes, we are all about walking twenty minutes every day in twenty twenty, and when we are walking, there is nothing worse than socks that get in your way if they slip down. If the seem digs into one of your toes, it can be torture I remember a walk that I took years ago because it was so miserable because I had to stop ten steps the Yank up at my sock, and I. The thing I love about features is they stay in place, and they are so cushioning. Cushioning I have Max cushioning, and there is nothing I love more than Cassini socks. See Features has quickly become the number one running sock in America for listeners of happier you can receive ten dollars off your first pair of features by going to features, dot com and using our code happier. That's ten dollars off your first pair. When you go to F., e., T. U., R. E. S. DOT COM and enter Promo Code Happier at checkout again that speech dot com and use code happier to get ten dollars off your first pair of features. Okay Grachev is time for demerits and gold. Stars and you are up this week with a happiness to marriage. Yes, this relates to Barnaby our five year old dog. He just set a birthday. So when before we got a dog, I said to my family. If we get a dog, we're GONNA. Have a well trained dog, and I'm just committing to that right now. Okay? No, I not I loved the. I'm so glad we have him. He is not trained. He's not a bad dog, but he is. He is not well trained dog. and. There's that he does not do which is actually dangerous, which is, he will not come when you call for him becomes if he wants, but often he's like now. I don't really feel like coming and so. When we first got him. We did the thing where you go. Barnaby touched and you would get him to come, and he learned how to do it, but we didn't keep up with it, but I realize this is actually dangerous for him because he would get away in some environment, and we just can't get him to come, and we call, it could be a really bad situation, and so I've given myself to merit an intruder merit fashion I am I am now pledging that I'm going to work with him on this for the rest of the summer and you know. Going because he can clearly learn how to do these things, he's very smart dog. This is our fault, not his fall, so we need to just make sure that we do. It could yeah now. Goldstar will take up Mary Gretchen will we have given a lot of gold stars to all of the frontline workers during this global panelist office workers, yes. Transportation Work Yes grocery store doctors nurses, all of those people that I have a new gold star which is for people who work in restaurants. Restaurants are open. I think in most states to some degree and we the three of US Adam Jack, and I have been going and sitting outside at a few restaurants to three of us, and I give such a gold star of the people who are working there because they are really taking measures for to be safe, wearing masks, and the shield and gloves, really having people dedicated to disinfecting tables in between guests, and it's so great to eat out I. Mean it makes me feel so much more human. That's just a big thing in. In our family is eating out, so not eating out was real something we really missed, and so we just feel so much more normal going to eat out, but obviously if we didn't feel it was safe, it wouldn't be fun and it wouldn't be something we could do so thank those people because I know it's uncomfortable to be all suited up like that and have the stress. Yeah, but it's much. Appreciate it well, and we just did this this weekend I had not been to a restaurant since March eleventh. I looked at my calendar. went to a Greek diner for lunch on March, eleventh or first time back and. It didn't matter so much to me, but Elisa was visibly like she was like. This is so great. This is so great I think for some people. It's this idea of grabbing onto normalcy, and and you're right. We felt very safe and very comfortable, because there were so many measures being taken, and it was a lot of extra work for the people working there. Yes, so cold star it's it's a real. really adds to the quality of life, yes. And that is it for this episode of happier. Remember to try this at home. Join or start a social issues, but club. Let us know if you tried it and what you read. Thanks to our producer Chuck Reed, and everyone a cadence thirteen get in touch. Gretchen is on Instagram at Gretchen. Rubin in I'm at Liz, craft or email addresses podcast Gretchen. Rubin Dot. com, if you like this show, please be sure to tell a friend that is how we get new listeners and subscribe rate. Review s wherever you listen to your podcast the resources for this week. If you need a quick jolt of Energy and Cheer while you're. You're spending time at home. You can download a three Bingo sheet with these sporty too easy challenges that you can do just kind of liquor spirits. You can get that at Gretchen Rubin Dot com slash resources. Cross them off as you go, get yourself some gold stars, and if you're looking for some mood boosting music awhile ago, we made the happier nine one one list on spotify. There is so much great happy music there suggested by listeners just search spotify playlist for happier, nine, one one and again these are all listener favorites until next week I'm Elizabeth Craft and I'm. Gretchen Rubin. Thanks for joining US onward and upward. Wait so graduates, Barnaby trained all or see basically just. potty trained in that. Gears housebroken and he does some tricks for fun, but like he's very badly behaved like. If there's food on a counter and our backs are turned, he will be on it in a flash. You've never seen a dog move so fast, so you remember Patty wet. Food Lightning-quick to be is exactly like that Iraq? From the onward project.