Books

Rhode Islanders You Should Know: Author and podcaster Kate Hanley wants to change your life

Kate Hanley is an author, a podcaster, and she wants you to be a better person. 

Nope, don’t run, come back, stick with me here. 

First and foremost, let’s throw down Hanley’s Rhode Island cred. She’s a native (her family spans generations here) and did the most native thing someone from Rhody can do – she moved away as a child and then heard the call of quahogs and returned to this great state. In her time away, she lived all over the country, with college landing her in Virginia at Washington and Lee, as a history major. 

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Hanley then found herself in New York, where she went to graduate school at NYU, with the goal of writing for “Sesame Street” (she ended up freelancing to write for their app!). She met her husband, they had two kids and realized that a two-bedroom in Brooklyn was not going to cut it. After expanding their home search radius to a bigger and bigger circle, she landed herself in, of course, Providence, in 2011. (If you need any more cred, her father, another Rhode Islander, recently moved to Florida – which means Hanley got to take his four-digit license plate. She’s the real deal.)

As Hanley moved around the country, she worked primarily in editorial positions, including for iVillage, which quickly became a dream job for her. But the thing about dreams is that they have to end. When she found out that iVillage needed to make cuts, she volunteered for a lay-off and pursued her yoga teaching certification, which would be a year-long process. Then Hanley had an epiphany. After so much time meditating and spending time truly with herself, she says, “I heard very clearly that what I always wanted to do was write. I never knew writing was a possibility as a viable career.”

So Hanley pursued a writing career. She published her first of four books, Anywhere Anytime Chill Guide in 2008, and her work has appeared in numerous national publications, such as Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Real Simple and Yoga Journal. 

The publication of her fourth book brings us to the next big chapter in Kate’s life. In December 2016, right after the election when the country felt divided and shocked with the, “What just happened?” vibe being prevalent, there was a poll that said the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was not to lose weight or quit drinking, but to “be a better person.” Hanley says, “I was so inspired by it in that moment. We were looking for hope, and to me, that was the hope.”

She immediately got to writing. In 2018, her latest book, How to Be a Better Person was published. 

The book features 401 (yes, she really did that) ways to make a difference not only in yourself, but in the world. Kate says, “I covered stress relief for so long that I figured out the real purpose of trying to relax and not stress out is to be your best.” Hanley focuses on the idea that any step is better than no step, and not only does being better help you, but it also helps the world around you. Hanley continues, “This was the purpose of trying to reduce stress: be a decent human. Don’t get hooked into judgment or be too overwhelmed to do what is right.” 

About a year and a half after the book was published, Hanley launched the How to Be a Better Person podcast, which servs as a companion to her book. The podcast is what I would call bite-sized, and it focuses on helping you stress less, and well, yeah, be a better person because of it. Kate says, “Not everyone has 45 minutes a day for self-improvement.” The episodes are between 5 and 10 minutes long and end with a small to-do item or action to use in your life for self-improvement. And she wants to make sure you know that you don’t have to think you’re a bad person to want to be better. Sometimes it can be as simple as, “I don’t want to yell at my kids when I’m frustrated,” or “Wow, I drank a lot during the pandemic, and feel ashamed about that.” The podcast itself is coming up on a big accomplishment. Its 500th episode will be released on July 22nd.

Hanley encourages her audiences and readers to wonder: How can I think about a problem differently? How can I bring my best self to any situation? She says her aim is to provide a framework to actively move toward being a better person. But and this is one of the best things about Hanley, she makes sure that “It’s not about being perfect, or even good, it’s just about being better.” 

In Rhode Island, Hanley cites her experience with What Cheer Writer’s Club being incredibly meaningful, from their podcast showcase night, to recording her podcast in their studio pre-pandemic. Right now, Kate is working on a quiz to help answer the question, “Am I a bad person?” Though, she laughs and says that it is lighthearted, and won’t hurt. She reassures everyone, “You have an untapped capacity for goodness.”  

Hanley has thrived as a writer, and a podcaster, and she says something so incredibly profound about all of us, collectively, as humans: “You don’t have to jump into the deep end for it to be meaningful or to change your reality.” 

Maybe the first start is reading a book, or listening to a short podcast. 

I know I can recommend one. 

How to Be a Better Person the book is available on Amazon, but please remember to support your local bookstores. Kate’s podcast How to Be a Better Person can be found on all major podcast platforms and at beabetterpersonpodcast.com. You can find out more about Kate and her work at katehanley.com.

Have a Rhode Islander in mind that you think everyone should know? Please reach out to our author on Instagram @caitlinmoments.

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