Sometimes you don't have to go very far or do much research to get advice on how to be happier. Here are eight excellent tips for living my parents gave me.
- "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 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.
- "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 those couch potatoes trying to pick up an exercise habit. Just do that much! That counts!
My parents never gave me relationship advice or weighed in on my boyfriends (true, I only had two real boyfriends, one of whom I married, but I'm sure it was hard to resist nevertheless).
However, once when I was home for vacation, both of my parents remarked on the requirements of a happy relationship. Maybe they'd had a conversation between themselves, which was why it was on their minds. Anyway, it was so unusual for them to make this kind of remark that both statements made a big impression on me:
- My mother said: "In a relationship, it's important that a person is kind, because eventually, if he's not kind to other people, he won't be kind to you."
- My father said: "In a relationship, it's important that a person be able to have fun, because you're not going to have a happy life with someone who can't have fun."
Have you received any great advice from your parents?
* A thoughtful reader sent me the link to a great Boston Globe article she wrote: Will He Hold Your Purse? "As a breast cancer doctor, I've learned how to spot a devoted husband -- a skill I try to share with my single and searching girlfriends."
* I take this opportunity gently to encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
- Link to a post on Twitter
- Pre-order the book for a friend
- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.
(Note that links in the comment box, just below, make some of these steps easier.)