Eight Excellent Tips for Living that My Parents Gave Me

Gretchen Rubin
July 13, 2010

From my mother:

"Stay calm." My mother probably reminds of this three or four times each time I see her. I really need this advice. Every day.

"The things that go wrong often make the best memories." My mother told me this when we were getting ready for my wedding. It's a very good thing to keep in mind, because it's absolutely true, and it can also help you laugh at a bad situation while it's happening.

"You like to have a few things that you really like, instead of lots of choices." Okay, this advice might not be widely applicable, but it was a huge revelation to me about my own nature. My mother made this comment in the context of clothes, but it's true in many areas of my life.

"That's so wonderful! Be grateful, because you worked hard for what you got, and you deserved it, but others also worked hard, and people don't always get what they deserve." My mother made this observation when I called home to report that I'd been elected the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. I repeated her remark to a friend, who thought it sounded like a little unenthusiastic, but in fact, it was reassuring, especially in the long run. Because it's TRUE. You don't always get what you deserve, even when you work hard, and my mother's observation has been very comforting to me in other circumstances, when things didn't go my way.

From my father:

"If you're willing to take the blame, people will give you the responsibility." This was perhaps the best advice for the workplace I ever got.

"Energy." Very true. The first chapter of The Happiness Project is devoted to energy. (Here are nine tips for giving yourself an energy boost in the next ten minutes.)

"Enjoy the process." If you can enjoy the process, you are less concerned about outcomes. That's a big help in the world.

"All you have to do is put on your running shoes and let the front door shut behind you." Good advice for all couch potatoes trying to pick up an exercise habit. Just do that much! That counts!

You can read the rest of this article and so much more at Gretchen's website, The Happiness Project.

From the Parents

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