Discussion Questions

How to Be a Person in the World

by Heather Havrilesky

  1. Throughout How to Be a Person in the World, Heather Havrilesky stresses the importance of engaging with and embracing your emotions, even those that are typically considered negative, such as anger or sadness. How does Havrilesky’s advice resonate with you? Does it align with or contradict our society’s attitude towards negative emotion?
  2. Which letter and response resonated with you the most? In what ways will you take Havrilesky’s advice and apply it to your own life, if at all? Will it help you think differently about your life?
  3. Which letter and answer resonated with you the least? Which pieces of advice did you disagree with?
  4. The concept of using personal anecdotes or experiences in advice columns is relatively new. How does Havrilesky explicitly use her personal experience to inform her advice? Did you find this technique effective? Why or why not?
  5. What is Havrilesky’s attitude towards success? That is, how does she define success or a successful life? How does her definition fit with society’s definitions of these concepts?
  6. What can the advice laid out in Havrilesky’s answers teach us about mindfulness and being present? Did you find her advice on these topics helpful?
  7. There are lots of different reasons why people choose to read advice columns and self-help books. What about you? What draws you to this genre?
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions ." (Viewed on October 14, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/node/23561>.

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