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How To! With Charles Duhigg


What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg ("The Power of Habit") takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but couldn’t. Until now.

What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg ("The Power of Habit") takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but couldn’t. Until now.


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What if Dear Abby was an investigative reporter? Each week on How To!, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg ("The Power of Habit") takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but couldn’t. Until now.




How To Get a Stubborn Parent to Listen

Alan’s 86-year-old dad will not stop driving—even after an incident where he drove off the road and totaled his car. Feeling guilty and worried, Alan has tried to convince his dad to hand over the keys, even enlisting the support of his father’s doctor, but everything Alan does seems to backfire. In this episode of How To!, Saturday Night Live comedian Jim Breuer shares his own experience dealing with a curmudgeonly father as chronicled in the documentary More Than Me. Jim says to reach an...


How To Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time

Ann’s sister just lost her husband and Ann doesn’t know how to console her. Ann lives in a different state and, having experienced loss herself, knows saying the wrong thing can only add to the hurt. What can Ann do from a distance to make her sister feel better? In this episode of How To!, Megan Devine, a psychotherapist and author of It’s OK That You’re Not OK, says first of all don’t try to cheer them up. Simply acknowledge their pain. Megan learned this the hard way after the sudden loss...


How To Lose 155 Pounds Happily

Ashley thought by now she’d be on top of the world. Once severely overweight, Ashley lost 155 pounds and recently ran her first half-marathon. But when she looks in the mirror all she sees are the imperfections. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Brittany O’Neill, the real-life inspiration for the hit movie Brittany Runs a Marathon. Having undergone a major transformation herself, Brittany knows what it’s like to feel unhappy after you’ve crossed the finish line. Constant...


How To Talk to Strangers

Every other Friday, Amy’s calendar reminds her to make the rounds of her office and say “hello” to her colleagues. As an introvert, Amy deeply struggles with small talk, but as a manager of 55 people she’s been told she needs to be more approachable. In this episode of How To!, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, helps Amy learn how to use her reserved nature to her advantage. Whether you’re anxious about networking at conferences or...


How To Actually Enjoy Working from Home

Joanna really misses her office. Taking Zoom calls from the kitchen in her dimly lit Brooklyn apartment doesn’t compare to her bright, open office filled with friendly coworkers. In this episode of How To!, Ben Waber, an organizational scientist, co-founder of Humanyze, and author of People Analytics, tells us how to use our home office to our advantage. It’s easy to spend all day chained to your computer, but Ben says we need to find ways to take breaks and foster human interaction. After...


How To Save the Planet (And Still Use a Plastic Straw)

Caleb tries to be good to the planet by recycling, biking to work and living a minimalist lifestyle in his small Ohio town. But he still feels guilty about using disposable diapers and buying a minivan for his growing family. How can he fight climate change without driving himself crazy? In this episode of How To!, Emma Marris, an environmental writer and author of Rambunctious Garden, warns us not to fall into the trap of individual guilt. In other words, don’t feel too bad about using that...


How To Stop Procrastinating

Marie trains dogs for a living, but she’s struggling to teach herself a new trick—overcoming procrastination. For a year, she’s been ready to launch a new dog training app....just as soon as she makes the training videos for it. The delay is hurting business so why can’t she cross this task off her to-do list? In this episode of How To!, Dan Ariely, professor at Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational, shares some procrastination tips that got him through a tough time in his own...


Quarantine Q&A: Masks

Margit from Denver, Colorado writes in with a question about how to encourage people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Charles offers advice on how to incentivize people to form new habits, and draws lessons from past efforts to change behavior during World War II. What are your toughest challenges during the pandemic? And what have you found is working for you? Leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001. We’re collecting your problems and solutions for our recurring...


How To Tame a Chaotic Household

Sarah feels like she’s drowning in the clutter of her tiny Brooklyn apartment where she lives with a messy husband and two-year-old daughter. Now that her family is under quarantine together, the chaos seems destined to only get worse. In this episode of How To!, Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, drops by to give Sarah a home makeover. But Bruce has more than a Marie Kondo-style cleanup in mind. Instead, he suggests that Sarah first declutter her mind and then call a...


How To Not Go Crazy Under Quarantine

This week, we’re struggling with the same problem as our listeners: self-quarantine. As news of the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, how do we stay sane while staying home? How do we reduce stress and remain healthy while juggling remote work and rambunctious kids? In this episode of How To!, we bring in Celeste Headlee, author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. Long before the pandemic, Headlee spent a lot of time thinking about how to slow down...


How To Forgive the Unforgivable

For years Claire has been holding on to a terrible family secret: Her mom physically abused Claire’s brother when he was young. How could her mom have done that? Now, over a decade later, both Claire’s mother and brother have passed away, but Claire still grapples daily with feelings of anger and deep resentment toward her mom. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Reverend Mpho Tutu van Furth, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and author of The Book of Forgiving. Mpho struggled with...


How To Find Your First Kiss at 38

Sharon is 38 and never been kissed. This, as she acknowledges, is “a bit weird.” As a nurse who loves ballroom dancing, Sharon is smart, funny, and attractive. At the same time, she’s deeply religious and has been waiting so long for the perfect man she worries that she’ll never find “The One.” In this episode of How To!, we bring in one of New York City’s finest matchmakers, Lisa Clampitt, for some tough love. Lisa believes Sharon has a lot going for her, but in order to find her first kiss...


How To Get Your Mom to Accept You

When Hema first realized she was gay a few years ago after immigrating to the U.S., she knew she had to tell her mom. But the conversation didn’t go well. Hema’s mom lives in India and is convinced being gay is a Western phenomenon. So how does Hema help her mom accept her for who she is? In this episode of How To!, we bring in Sonali Gulati, a professor, filmmaker and queer rights activist who made a documentary about the parents of LGBTQ people in India. Drawing from her own personal...


How To Vote for the Next President

Anthony is that rarest of things in American politics—a swing voter who is up for grabs in 2020. Caught between his Republican voting history and his current dislike of President Trump, Anthony is now registered as an Independent. But does he follow his head or his heart? In this episode of How To!, we bring in veteran political advisors David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and Mike Murphy, a Republican consultant, who co-host the podcast Hacks on Tap....


How To Write the Perfect Breakup Song with Ben Folds

Lorenzo is a dental student with big dreams—of becoming a rock star. Lorenzo plays a mean guitar at open mic night, but there’s one thing holding him back: He doesn’t know how to write his own songs. In this episode of How To!, we bring in master songwriter Ben Folds, former frontman of Ben Folds Five, and author of A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons. Many of those lessons are about how anyone can unlock their creativity. Ben breaks down his own music, and...


How To Convince People to Give You Money

Shannon runs a nonprofit in Aspen, Colorado — a place filled with wealthy donors, but also stiff competition. With nearly 500 nonprofits vying for money, how does Shannon help her organization stick out? Some of the best advice may come from an unlikely source: con artists. In this episode of How To!, Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game, shares con artists’ surprisingly similar tricks of the trade: Identify your mark, listen carefully, then tell them a story they want to hear. Can...


How To Protect Yourself Against the Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak in China is causing panic worldwide. The World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency and all we hear about are doubling infection rates, massive quarantines, and drugstores running out of masks. In this episode of How To!, we ask Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, former New York Times reporter and author of An American Sickness, how she and her family survived the previous SARS epidemic in Beijing. We also revisit our conversation with Dr. Tom...


How To Put Your Wife's Career First

Andy would do anything for his girlfriend Cassie. Well, almost anything. As Cassie looks to move away for vet school, Andy has to decide if he’s going with her, leaving his job, family and friends, and two bands behind in Austin, TX. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face and her husband Dave, author of Get Out of Your Own Way. The Hollises have a lot of experience navigating this question, because for most of their marriage, Dave’s job as a...


How To Kick a Meth Habit

Jason has been addicted to meth for the past 15 years, which is not uncommon in his small Illinois town. Every time Jason stopped using he would relapse, until last year when the state took custody of his two kids. Since then he’s sobered up, but is worried about making it last. In this episode of How To!, we bring in Fred Muench, a clinical psychologist and recovering heroin addict who is now the president of Center on Addiction/Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Muench knows how hard it is to...


How To Rob a Bank

Joe Loya robbed more than 30 banks during an 18-month span before going to jail. Charles wants to rob one bank on a Saturday afternoon, and get away scot-free. Can Joe teach Charles the tricks of the trade? Or will he shatter his dreams, and a few stereotypes along the way? Also, is it a good idea to carry a microphone while attempting a robbery? Do you have a burning question or a problem that needs solving? Send us a note at Slate Plus members get bonus segments and...