One of the biggest thrills in my professional life as being interviewed by Oprah herself, for her amazing Super Soul Sunday series. Yowza!
The interview aired on November 8, at 7 p.m EST/PT on OWN.
Doing the interview was exciting on many levels, but among other things, I learned a lot about the interview process. Oprah is the master, and it’s always a rare privilege to learn from a true master. Continue reading
People often ask me, “How do you do your research?”
I’m a kind of street scientist. I don’t have a lab full of undergrads eating marshmallows to study; I rely on my own observations.
Really, I feel more like Samuel Johnson or William Hazlitt or George Orwell, in the way that I analyze human nature. I love reading the science, and I think about the science all the time, but in the end, I pay the most attention to what I see around me. And what I read — not just science, but memoirs, biographies, novels.
I tell people this, and they say, “But how do you draw any conclusions?”
I can never think of a good answer. I just read a lot, talk to people a lot, take gigantic amounts of notes, and ponder. I look for patterns. Certain actions or remarks strike my attention, often for reasons that take me months to identify.
But it did occur to me that I’ve hit on one very useful analytic technique, without quite realizing it.
If I’m stumped by something I see, I substitute “because” for “despite,” and see if a proposition makes sense. Continue reading
One of my favorite parenting books is Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill’s Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understand the Social Lives of Children.
Like most good parenting books, the advice turns out to be just as useful when dealing with adults as it is when dealing with children. (I think about Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s brilliant How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk more often in the context of adult than of child interactions.)
As I was reading Best Friends, Worst Enemies, I was particularly struck by Thompson’s warning against “interviewing for pain.” Continue reading
In the happiness world, there’s a lot of talk about “committing random acts of kindness.”
As I wrote about in Happier at Home, I’m a bigger fan of non-random acts of kindness — but there is one random act of kindness that I absolutely believe in.
If you support organ donation, please speak up about it.
Take a moment to sign the donor registry. That way, everyone can easily know your wishes, should the need arise.
Also, let your family and friends know that you’d want to be an organ donor. Post a message on Facebook or Twitter, send out a blast email, talk about it over dinner. If and when they had to make a decision on your behalf, in a time of grief and shock, it would be a tremendous comfort to them to know what you would want. To make it easy to find what you wrote, add the hashtag #organdonor.
This issue is particularly close to my heart. For decades, my husband had hepatitis C, which attacks the liver (he got hep C from a blood transfusion during a heart operation when he was eight years old). Well, it turns out the liver is a very, very important organ to have. A liver transplant was definitely a possibility for him, so I became very interested in this issue of organ donation.
By a miracle of modern science, my husband is now cured. Yes, CURED. Tears well up in my eyes, even just typing those words. (If you want to read more about one of the happiest days of my life, go here.) Continue reading
As I may have mentioned, my family and I just got a new puppy — a cockapoo named Barnaby. He’s fourteen weeks old, and super sweet and delightful.
However, he is a dog, and even more so, he’s a puppy. I knew that his arrival in our household would mean big changes — and would also teach me a lot about myself.
So far, here’s what I’ve learned: Continue reading
I’m not a particular fan (or not) of Rob Lowe, but several people had recommended his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so I decided to read it.
It was very interesting for many reasons, and I was particularly struck by a story Lowe told, recalling a visit to the White House during his time on the show The West Wing: Continue reading
Guess: What’s one habit that’s very common and extremely dangerous?
Yes, of course, smoking. But what else?
Using your smart phone while driving is a terrible habit. So common, so dangerous. About one quarter of car accidents involve the use of a smart phone.
It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just glance at the screen,” but it takes a minimum of five seconds to take a look, and if you’re going 55 mph, you’ll go the length of a football field in that time.
And it turns out that just reaching for the device raises the chance of an accident.
Probably, most of us know that using a phone while driving is a bad idea. And yet we’re in that habit. So how to stop? Continue reading
Even though I haven’t been in school for a long time, for me, September marks the beginning of a new year. Orange is the new black, breakfast is the new lunch, Monday is the new Thursday, pork is the other white meat, and September is the other January. (And yes, it’s still September, even though most schools start in August nowadays — and of course, this is true only in certain parts of the world.)
January is the official start of the new year, and I always get a burst of renewed zeal at that time, but here in the United States, for me, September also gives the same feeling of an empty calendar and a clean slate. The air seems charged with possibility and renewal.
Back-to-school is a time of self-evaluation and reflection–and also a time when I feel the urge to clean out my office.
Because of the new year feeling of September, when I wanted to do a a happier-at-home project, I decided to start it in September. Continue reading
From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.
One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. Continue reading
People often ask, “What’s the key to happiness?”
I think that question can be answered in a few different ways, depending on the framework used to approach the question.
For instance, one answer is: self-knowledge. As the Fifth Splendid Truth holds, we can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own interests, our own values. Continue reading