Today's Reading

If your reaction is negative, that's great too, because now you've got something to work with. Changing the story you tell yourself about yourself is a process.

You don't have to do it all at once. You don't have to do it overnight. You don't even have to deal with all your thoughts. You have thousands of thoughts every day! Who has time to work through all of that? I don't. So instead, we're going to keep it simple.

All we're going to do is ask our loudest soundtracks three questions so that we can retire them.

The Three Magic Questions

Who do you think is the second-best character in the Harry Potter books?

The best character is obviously Luna Lovegood. I (McRae) know she's the best character because, in addition to being brave, artsy, and fully comfortable in her own skin, there are four dogs in my neighborhood named Luna. But I think you could definitely debate who is the silver medalist of Hogwarts.

I haven't met a single dog named Snape. I haven't met a cat named Hagrid.

I haven't even met a hamster named Albus Dumbledore, which is a hilariously large name for such a small pet. But I've met some Lunas. Our neighborhood is crawling with them. I love seeing them on walks because it always reminds me of how much I enjoy those books.

I don't believe in magic, but I do believe the three questions I'm going to teach you are about as close as we Muggles can get.

They're so simple on the outside. They're words you've heard a thousand times before. They won't even seem special the first time you see them.

They'd never make it onto a vocabulary quiz or help you look smart to your friends on a road trip. But if you sit with them for a minute and use them in the right order, you're going to feel like you just might have a lightning bolt scar on your forehead.

Did you write down any broken soundtracks from the last chapter? If not, that's OK. Reading a book your parents probably gave you AND writing down notes in it is a pretty big ask. Maybe see if they can bump up that $20 bill in the back to $50. You might end up with $100 at the end of the day if you play your cards right.

You don't have to take notes unless you want to, but the next time you hear a broken soundtrack, the next time you tell yourself something that's discouraging, negative, or maybe even mean, I want you to ask the first question.



Is It True?

Is the story you're telling yourself about yourself—about a situation, about a friend, about anything—true?

One of the greatest mistakes you can make is assuming that all your thoughts are true. Despite the lies our thoughts have told us over and over again, we tend to believe that if we think something, it must be true. If it's in our head, it must be fact. But what if it's not?

When my dad was in middle school, his answer to the question "What's your goal?" would have been, "To own a BB gun." It's not the biggest aspiration. I mean, "world peace" sounds a lot better on a college application. But that was his big wish.

Every time he imagined that BB gun, he heard a few soundtracks.

'Your parents will never let you own a BB gun. Your parents will kill you if you buy a BB gun.'

'Your parents don't want you to own a BB gun because they are trying to ruin your life.'

That last one is a bit comical, but let's be honest: we've all thought it at some point. We've all bumped into some rule or regulation our parents came up with that felt life-ending.

Did you get your first phone as early as you wanted to? I (McRae) know I didn't. I feel like my parents made me wait forever. Same with Instagram.

My parents gave that to my older sister as a Christmas present one year. That's right, my parents printed out the Instagram logo, wrapped it, and then gave it to her. It's a free app, but they wanted her to know it came with some expectations.

My dad was convinced his parents wouldn't let him own a BB gun, but he never stopped for a second to ask, "Is it true?"

If he had, I know they would have bought him one. It would have come with some rules, of course, but my grandfather is the kind of person who loves giving kids fun gifts. Last Christmas he gave my dad an industrial- strength laser pointer that's so strong you can practically hit the moon with it. I bet if I asked him for a set of throwing axes for my birthday he would oblige. He's a fun, silly, build-a-fort-in-the-woods-with-you kind of grandfather. He might have taken a little bit of convincing, but I'm sure he would have joined TeamBBGun.

This excerpt is from the hardcover edition.

Monday we begin the book SUGARING OFF by Gillian French.

Join an online "Book Club" and start receiving sample chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...