How to bring more joy to your life!

Hello, reading friends. I hope you are able to find a place of tranquility on this Friday afternoon but if you’re feeling stretched in too many directions while at the same time feeling isolated and kerfuffled, I have an interview here for you – and a book – that might help. My dear friend Anne Bogel, who you might also know as the amazing Modern Mrs. Darcy, has a brand new book out – and yes, it released into a weary world in the middle of this pandemic – and it is so timely. DON’T OVERTHINK IT is Anne’s third book and in its pages, she wants to help you not only overcome negative thought patterns that rob you of joy and peace but replace them with positive ones. More than a book about good decision-making, the back cover says, DON’T OVERTHINK IT “offers you a framework for making choices you’ll be comfortable with, allowing you to use an appropriate amount of energy and freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.”

Anne, aka MODERN MRS. DARCY, is the author of READING PEOPLE and I’D RATHER BE READING and creator of the excellent podcast WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT? She makes her home with her family in Louisville, Kentucky and is a pure joy to know. Read on to see how to get in on a drawing for a copy of her book and to check out her terrific Stay-at-Home-Book-Tour videos for both her book (all your many questions are answered!) and one for mine, THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR, which released in paperback into this strange, new world on Tuesday.  But first, let’s chat with Anne:

SUSAN: Tell us about your new book. Did you ever dream you were writing a book that people might need in the midst of a pandemic?

ANNE: I certainly didn’t! The new book is about making easier decisions, stopping second-guessing, and bringing more joy to your life. Studies show nearly all of us engage in overthinking—that means repetitive, unhealthy, unhelpful thoughts. Overthinking is exhausting, and it makes us miserable. But with new strategies and some practice, we can learn to stop thinking our way out of happiness and think our way into it instead.

For many people, overthinking is a deeply entrenched habit, so overcoming it requires new strategies and plenty of practice. I imagine that’s why people are finding the book so helpful right now: we’re all dealing with circumstances we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. Our routines have been disrupted, and we’re having to make lots of decisions we never anticipated. Not only that, the news is a major overthinking trigger. People need resources; they need help.

SUSAN: So true. Was there anything in the writing and research for this book that surprised you?

ANNE: Before I began this project, I was oblivious to the connection between overthinking and perfectionism. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and those tendencies still trip me up sometimes. Once I understood how much of my own overthinking was driven by perfectionism it became much easier to overcome those particular negative thought patterns.

SUSAN: That is so interesting. I think I might be a wannabe perfectionist! That’s either not quite as bad or far worse! What are some tips from the book that all of us can use in these uncertain times?

ANNE: First, when you take care of your body, you take care of your brain, so focusing on the basics is crucial to set yourself up for success in this area: don’t forget to eat breakfast, get some exercise, drink your water, get enough sleep.

We all have moments where we catch ourselves stuck on the overthinking treadmill, and when that happens it’s good to have some strategies handy so we can pull ourselves out of that thought spiral. Try scheduling time to overthink each day: this may sound counterintuitive, but if you tell yourself you’ll indulge that overthinking at the designated hour, it’s easier to put those thoughts aside for the rest of the day. Try distracting yourself: this works because the brain can only focus on so many things at once. Give your mind something else to occupy it: read a book, pay a bill, play a game of Tetris, follow a new recipe. Finally, when your brain is stuck, move your body: take a walk, go for a run, do a set of plans or some jumping jacks. When you move your body, you move your mind.

Susan here again. Such good words. Anne spoke more about this book and answered questions from a packed Zoom room where a virtual book stop took place. A great listen if you want to hear more from Anne. Mine is also available to watch on this same replay page.

You can get a copy of Anne’s book and at the same time support local independent bookstores by shopping for it right here.

If you’d like to get in on a drawing for a copy of Anne’s book, just drop a comment below and tell us one way you are coping with the difficult circumstances we are all presently bound up in. It can be a fun way, serious way, easy or complex. We want to hear them all. A winner (and it can be an international winner if bookdepository is still shipping to your country) will be randomly drawn at noon Pacific on Monday. Happy Easter weekend all!


Author: Susan

This post has 31 Comments

  1. Linda Martin on April 11, 2020 at 1:49 am

    I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with my husband. I’m also reading, coloring and FaceTime with my kids

  2. Cherry Odelberg on April 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    “Don’t Overthink It” – what a fabulous title – instruction right there in the headline. Pandemic? What pandemic? Unless I overthink it…I am choosing to enjoy this isolation time as a holiday – an introvert in her bliss. I do all of the things that bring me joy and peace : hiking, writing, reading, making music; and none of the things that bring me stress. I have given myself permission to take a rest and shirk over-responsibility. I am naturally conscientious and have no fear but I will pick up the reins of responsibility at an appropriate later date. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the timing of this back-handed gift for me – and yes, I am aware that for others it is a hugely negative time and my task is to be caring and compassionate without feeling guilty.

  3. Tricia on April 11, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I’m shopping thriftbooks, taking long walks with my crew of four (5, 4, 3 & 3) and having 6 ft. porch dates with friends. I’m NOT potty training. ?

  4. Angie Lugo on April 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I have been walking… a lot!

  5. Ellen Smih on April 11, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Being retired, most days don’t superficially seem any different than “before”. However, I am often struck by the fact that I don’t have a choice to stay or go as I used to. The emerging spring greening and blooming and bird song brings smiles and also seems sad. Nature is moving right along and we are not.

  6. Krissy on April 11, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    We have been very fortunate to still be fully employed during this, so I have been sewing masks for people and also trying to support my local businesses by buying what they’re offering. Today I bought a few mystery bags from my local used bookstore.

  7. Elizabeth on April 11, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve been taking a photo a day, trying to find a tiny bit of beauty in the every day. I’ve also been baking a lot!

  8. Deborah Flora on April 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Counting gratitude, seeking beauty, and looking for laughter! I’ve been sending funny memes back and forth with friends, watching silly sitcoms with my son and reading Baby Blues!

    I’ve also been sending happy mail to friends, family, and children. Baking is another favorite activity I’ve been doing.

    These are all things I do anyway, but I’ve been noticing them in new ways this month.

    Have a delightful weekend!

  9. Becky Jones on April 11, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    We’re building a treehouse for the kids: I’m also writing, reading, avoiding preschool enrollment and service-related decisions, filling nail holes and caulking trim on the house we built two years ago (I naively volunteered to paint every inch AFTER we settled in because I didn’t want to settle on paint colors until I could let the house speak. Over-thinker problems? 😉 Two years later…still inching along with my brush!)

  10. Loren Swaites on April 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    I am thankful to be working from home, but to my surprise…my teenage daughter has started cooking for us. This is from a girl who swore she would have to marry someone who could cook! I am using this time to be more organized. May you all be blessed during this time!

  11. Geralyn Perney on April 11, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    I am taking this time to practice some much needed self-care and enhancing my sporadic yoga practice by expanding my fitness goals with ballet barre work and weight training. My afternoons( and into the evening sometimes) is spent on tackling my massive TBR pile. Lots of cooking and snacking added on for good measure! Hoping everyone is safe and healthy! ?

  12. Karina on April 11, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    This is a very cool conversation! Thanks for sharing it with us. As a homeschooling family, we’re used to spending lots of time at home, but this sure has ramped it up. We are trying to add variety to our outside activity–we borrowed a rowing machine and parents and two teens are running, biking, and strength training. We gave Dad an office space with a door–and that helped enormously as well!

  13. LJ on April 12, 2020 at 12:53 am

    I’m keeping a brief but daily journal of what’s happening around our house and the world.

  14. Anissa on April 12, 2020 at 2:31 am

    Two of my three kids have IEPs so we are very busy with virtual therapies and online schooling. My youngest son has Cerebral Palsy, Autism, multiple health issues from being born at two pounds, and is oxygen dependent. We are not leaving our home to keep him safe. So, we are having lots of family time. Cooking, games, puzzles, and reading help keep me sane! I am a big fan of Susan Meissner!

  15. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Oh, how I loved all your comments! Thanks for stopping by everyone. And congrats to Geralyn P whose name was randomly drawn from among the commenters, Confetti toss!

  16. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Wow, Anissa! You have a full plate. Kudos to you for staying home and staying strong!

  17. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Journaling is always a good idea, LJ!

  18. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Smart move to borrow the rowing machine, Karina!

  19. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    You’re too right about the TBR pile! It is one of the few good things about sheltering in place – the time it gives us to address our towering TBR piles!

  20. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    How lovely that your daughter is cooking for you, Loren. I actually find cooking rather therapeutic myself…

  21. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    A treehouse!!! That is so cool…

  22. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Yes, Deborah! Baking and funny memes rule right now. Simple joys!

  23. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    I love that idea of taking a photo a day and finding that scrap of beauty to focus on.

  24. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    You are a hero, Krissy!

  25. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    I have noticed that, too, Ellen. How the season is springing forth just as it always has, undeterred.

  26. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Me, too, Angie! The dog is loving it…

  27. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Yay for porch dates!! Potty training can wait…

  28. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    That’s a great perspective – thinking of this time as a special kind of holiday…

  29. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    I love it there are so many adult coloring books now…

  30. Susan on April 13, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Email me at when you have a moment, Geralyn!

  31. Alex on May 5, 2020 at 10:58 am

    My profession is overthinker 🙂
    I do it all my time

    Alex from