Recommendation: Happier Podcast


I was talking to my friend Nick about how to change up my blog so it isn’t always just me talking about myself (I mean, I know that’s kind of what a blog is, but they say variety is the spice of life), and he suggested that I share recommendations for books, podcasts, things that I think are great. Seemed like a good idea, so here goes.

I’ve gotten into podcasts over the last few years and have found a nice variety, mostly coming from recommendations by friends. I’ve got a few political podcasts (The 45th, Stay Tuned with Preet), a bunch of murder mystery/true crime podcasts (Serial, Undisclosed, S-Town, In the Dark, Up and Vanished), a couple of lifestyle podcasts (Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, Happier Podcast), and one totally frivolous podcast called Here to Make Friends that I will describe a bit later in this blog.

Happier Podcast was recommended to me by my friend Adriane. I was pretty skeptical at first, as I knew that the podcast’s host Gretchen Rubin was the author of a book called The Happiness Project and also had been a regular Oprah Magazine columnist, writing about happiness. I was afraid it would be full of trite, eyeroll-worthy advice, but I figured that successful Adriane has pretty high standards and wouldn’t spend her time on fluff, so I gave it a try and ended up loving it.

Happier Podcast is co-hosted by “happiness guru” Gretchen Rubin and her sister, L.A.-based writer/producer Elizabeth Craft. The dynamic between the two is really enjoyable, with Gretchen being more Type A analytical and Elizabeth being more laid back and sarcastic. The podcast’s purpose is to dive into the habits that lead to a happier life,  and I find that it’s full of practical, research-based advice. I like that Gretchen and Elizabeth often have differing approaches to the advice, however, which gives the advice some nuance and depth. The podcast also uses as its foundation Gretchen’s Four Tendencies framework, which divides personality types into the following four categories: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner (that’s me), and Rebel. Recognizing that people have different approaches to the world and to the way in which habits are created and maintained allows their happiness advice to be tailored according to an individual’s “tendency.” I will save the Four Tendencies framework for another blog post, but an understanding of the “tendencies” runs through many of the podcast episodes.

Habits of happiness addressed in the podcast have included being a tourist in your own city, engaging in a “Power Hour” to get onerous chores done, finding and imitating a spiritual master, picking a “one-word” theme for the year, and many more. They also assign themselves happiness “gold stars” and “demerits” each episode as they look at their own lives and find ways in which their happiness has been supported and challenged. I have come away with a few delightful life improvements thanks to Happier Podcast, including the purchase of a hard-boiled egg maker; an embarrassing-yet-delicious podcast dedicated to the Bachelor franchise called Here to Make Friends (yes, I watch every Bachelor and Bachelor-adjacent show out there); and an understanding that I am a Questioner, which helps me understand myself and my motivations better.

I’ll listen to podcasts while I get ready in the morning, while I drive to and from work, and then twice a week I try and make myself get up before work and spend thirty minutes on the elliptical machine. While I do, I always listen to Happier Podcast. It’s a positive, upbeat way to spend a half hour at the beginning of the day, and I always end up feeling happier– so I guess the podcast works!

Finding Inspiration From Faculty

I love being inspired by new ideas, and believe 100% in sharing creativity and also sharing the great things happening at our school. I recently had the opportunity to learn about an absolutely amazing, yet little-known, project happening in our Design Technology lab and I just had to find a way to tell others about it. Our high school has gotten several 3D printers this year, but I had no idea exactly how these work, what they look like, or how you go from having an idea to actually creating a finished product. I emailed our Design Technology teachers and asked if they could let me know the next time they would be using the 3D printers so that I could come up and learn more about them. They emailed back right away to let me know that a printing project was currently running, so I headed up to the 4th floor Design Technology area (a place that I’ve only been to three times in the whole time I’ve been at this school– and one of those was for an afterschool TGIF party!) to check it out.

First, the DT teacher showed me prototype miniatures that students create before they create full-size projects. These prototypes allow students to identify potential issues that must be addressed before they print the full-size models. The teacher then showed me the software program in which students create the 3D model digital files, which are then sent to the printer, which uses a large spool of plastic cording, which is fed into the printer, heated at high temperature so that it melts, is then drizzled (I’m not sure if this is really the best adjective for what actually happens here) onto a cooler metal plate, where the molten plastic cools and solidifies, yielding the final 3D printing project. To say that it was cool to watch is an understatement.

The teacher then explained to me the project that was currently being printed, and that’s where the inspiration kicked into full gear. Students had been designing small plastic items to take down to Estancia (a coastal town that was devastated by the 2013 typhoon) on an upcoming service trip, and this particular student had designed a simple bubble blower (the wand with a circle on the end), which was in the process of being mass produced by the 3D printers. To top off this wonderful marriage of education and service, stamped onto the wand was “ISM ♥ ECS”. Our school has been collecting money and working with other organizations to rebuild Estancia Central School, which had been destroyed by the typhoon, and when students go to visit the school in a few weeks they will take a variety of toys and other items that have been created and produced using the school’s 3D printers. If this is not an example of meaningful, real-world education, I don’t know what is.

Hearing about this incredible idea, and knowing that I’d just found out about it by chance because of my geeky interest in 3D printing, I decided to embark on a new project. The goal of this project is to share as many of the great things happening in our school with as many people as possible! I emailed a group of teachers that I feel are known for their creativity, and hopefully their willingness to share, in order to collect a handful of videos that I can then use to try and encourage even more people to share. Teachers can either create their own videos or can have me come down to take the video for them. The videos can and should be simple. I’m also planning to participate in an upcoming afterschool PD time and will try to film as many teachers, staff and administrators from across all school divisions sharing short stories about something great that happened during the year. Not sure what the final product will be (ideas?), but I’m excited about the potential. Video testimonials about all the good things that happened at our school this year? I’d watch that!

If this all comes together, I will share an update in a future post.