Agree or Disagree? The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short.

We’re taking a family trip home to Kansas City; I’ll be back in a week.

In the meantime, here’s my one-minute video, The Years Are Short. I think of everything that I’ve ever written, this short piece is the thing that resonates most with people.

Do you share this feeling–that the days are long, but the years are short?

Going back to Kansas City always reminds me of the long days of childhood. Winstead’s, here we come!

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • This is exactly how I described the 8 years that I stayed home with my kids. Every day seemed endless, but then I’d look up and a year had passed by. Now that I’m back to work full-time, traveling on business often, and my kids are older, both the days and the years seem to pass like lightning.

  • Kimberly Zavicar

    I agree.

    I just finished your book “The Happiness Project” and that inspired me
    to write a blog of my own. My blog is for writing about my passion for
    films and how I really want to make it big. I realize that if I don’t
    enjoy the journey in the steps to get there then there was really no
    point in it at all.

  • Trailteach

    Welcome back from Independence!

  • Peninith1

    My oldest child just turned 37 . . . although many days seemed endless, it has all gone by in a flash! Savor every stage from the terrible twos to the terrifying teens! I sometimes feel heartbroken missing the people the boys WERE, even as I greatly enjoy the wonderful men they have become.

    • Val


  • ayala

    I agree. My older son just graduated medical school and it feels like not that long ago he graduated high school. It went by so fast.

    • gretchenrubin

      I remind myself of this all the time, but it’s hard to keep in mind. So hard to appreciate NOW while it’s happening!


  • Oh, it is absolutely true.  Back when I had young children, I said it like this: “The years fly by, but some days last forever!”  🙂

  • Catseye

    I tear up at this little movie every time I watch it.  It is so simple and so profound.

  • Had one of those days where we went from full day of work/school to preschool graduation pomp and circumstance to a meltdown over why we can’t go to Disneyworld TONIGHT instead of Jazz in the Woods. Just when you think you must not know the first thing about parenting, you finish off with two kids on your lap on a summer evening filled with some of the best music ever and remember what it’s all about. 

  • Grandma Honey

    When I was raising my 4 little sons, I didn’t get it when people use to say to me, “Enjoy it all because the years fly by.”  Well they didn’t seem to fly by to me! But no one back then told me the rest of the equation. That the YEARS fly by,yes, but the DAYS are long. Your little video says it so perfectly!

  • I remember seeing this when you posted it a few years ago. At the time, my kids were like nine or ten and I remember reflecting on how I had gone from riding the bus with them to walking them to the bus stop to sending them out the door with a bag of lunch.

    Now they’re 12 and 13 and some days we don’t even see each other except for a few minutes before bedtime.

    That video is inspirational, but it makes me a little bit sad too.

  • This makes me tingle every time I watch it – it’s beautiful and true

  • Patti

    Just left a comment on Yoga for Cynics blog, about us all being on a path and that we should enjoy every step!  Enjoy your trip to Kansas City Gretchen!

  • Breezybuni

    I have learned that the things that bring me the most profound happiness are… not things at all but encouraging and listening to someone in need …  be it a friend or person who is hurting that you do not know.  I send encouraging notes and cards to many people who have told me they came at a time when they were really down and needed to know there was hope and someone who cared.  I have also learned that “giving” of yourself does not have to be a big volunteer commitment or project…  Sometimes, it is just opening your eyes and putting youself out there to be available to people in need… Simple daily kindnesses, smiles, hugs and warm caring words, being patient and understanding, thoughtful moments to make someone else feel good about themself.  These are all things that are doable, no matter what kind of life we lead. When we focus on other people, we forget what we are dealing with and usually always feel so blessed. It just adds meaning and purpose to our life (happiness) when we go beyond our selves to give to others.

  • Audrey

    I loved your short video. I am saddened that the first few years of my children’s lives felt exceptionally tedious & challenging at times. I often lost sight of the wonder and delight of those years and wish had taken greater appreciation from them. Now with 3 children, ages 9, 13, and 15, I find myself slowing down a lot more to appreciate our ordinary, routine moments. Thanks for sharing.

    • Val

       Well, life with preschoolers and toddlers is INTENSE.  There’s the unpredictability of sleep, the racket, the disorder, the meals tossed on the floor, the sheer wreckage.

      It’s tedious and challenging, totally.

      (I have ten children. I know.)

      But it’s also full of funny moments and much hugging.

      Don’t be sad at all.  Young parents are somewhat under siege.  That’s why the whole grandparent thing is so stunningly, surprisingly FUN.

      Life evolves,  and mostly in the most wonderful ways. love, Val

  • K_Stefaniak28

    I have thought about this for awhile now.  Some days seem like they will never end yet time moves so quickly.  My children are grown and I miss them everyday.  Savor it, enjoy it, yet there’s still no way to hold onto it or make it last longer. The key is to learn to enjoy each phase.  

  • Barbara/Irish

    This is so true–I teach Kindergarten and the year flew by, even though the days were VERY long at times…..and I see this with our own children now and am trying to savor the time as a Nana….on another note, I live in TX but am from Kansas City and LOVE Winstead’s! (and The Plaza in general!)

  • MA.mama

    I repeat this to myself many times a day to give me perspective with my 3 year old and 3 month old!

  • I completely agree…and I never get tired of this video. 🙂

  • Mishea

    Gretchen, thank you so much for posting this video.  It feels absolutely true to me.  I teared up watching this because I just thought of how impatient I have become with my 3 year old and 1 year old.  I do feel myself coming back to enjoying every messy moment and living in the now.  This video is such a powerful reminder  to appreciate every precious moment.

  • Gretchen, enjoy your time away. Thank you for putting together such a brilliant (and short…also brilliant) video to remind us that today is the best day of our life.

  • Snooks39

     Welcome back to KC!  I try to remind myself of this every day!  Gretchen – have you done any events in KC?

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ll be in Kansas City on September 20, doing an event with Rainy Day Books. Hope to see you there!

  • Beautiful video! 

  • gretchenrubin

    I’m so happy to hear that my work resonates with you. Thanks!


  • Talk about synchronicity. I just wrote one of my daily reflections about this very topic. Enjoy Kansas City!


  • Leila Dugenia

    I’m from the IT industry and our company’s currently working on a big project.  Working smart allows me to go home early and enjoy the weekend while my colleagues render 60 hours work week.  This made me post a facebook status of “and they wonder why the days are long and life too short”.  So imagine my pleasure when I went to the bookstore and found the same sentiment on your back cover!  Bought it along with The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.   And was again surprised when it’s author was mentioned in the spiritual masters chapter.  Serendipitous?  No, just another one of those “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” moments.  Thank you for your book.  I’m learning a lot.  =)

  • Of all of the quotes I have felt in touch with and loved over the years, this is my absolute favorite.  Especially now at this point in my life when my oldest daughter has just graduated from high school and moved 1500 miles away.  When you are up to your elbows in diapers and bottles, it is hard to see that the years are brief because your days are so full.  Saying good-bye to yesterday really is hard. Realizing that the days are your life and your time with your children is short is so very important.

  • Onesplitpea

    *sob!* I miss Kansas City!  Been gone for just over two years, haven’t visited since March 2011.  Enjoy Winstead’s and be sure to have some Jack Stack and Gate’s BBQ for me.  And a Boulevard beer.

    • gretchenrubin

      We’ve already been to Winstead’s-waiting to go to Gates after my husband arrives. And Topsy’s!


  • Val

    Yes. My favorite quote is Robert Brault:   Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

  • Kecamarata

    Welcome home from southern Overland Park!  I’m also hoping you have an event here sometime.  What do your girls like to do when in KC….. maybe Toy and Miniature Museum or the new Aquarium or the Steamboat Arabia Museum?

    • gretchenrubin

      We haven’t been to the Aquarium yet, that may be the activity for tomorrow. Very excited to check it out, also the Legos place. Today was Worlds of Fun!


  • Reneka

    I finished reading The Happiness Project last week, and this is by far the one line that hit home the most. I have 3 young girls- 12, 7, and 1. On crazy mommy days, it’s easy to say “I can’t wait until the end of the day.” As I’m planning my oldest’s 13th birthday party, I can’t help but stop and think if the next 12 years will fly by even faster. Thank you for such a wonderful book. I can’t wait to read Happier at Home. 🙂 

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that it resonates with you. And thanks for your nice words about Happier at Home. I’m excited to get it out in the world soon.


  • Melissa

    I agree.  The days don’t even seem so long as my children get older!  There seems to be an inevitable grieving process to watching your kids grow up.  As relieved as I feel when they gain mastery and become more independent and as lovely as it is to finally sleep through the night (on consecutive nights!)  it’s hard to say good bye to those pudgy little toddler faces and the days when everything they did was a complete surprise.

  • mimiQ06

    Where did this quote originate? My mother used to say that a lot when she was elderly and living alone, I actually feel that the years and days are short also. Time is just going by so quickly.

  • Oh, yeah, I agree with that. My son will be a senior in h.s. next year, and I simultaneously can’t believe he’s that old, and how lonnnggg a haul it’s been to get to this point.

  • Misty

    I’m totally behind the times, as I JUST read your book this past week. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but I think it found me at the right time. I checked out your blog today, and was surprised to see this post, as I used “the days are long, but the years are short” on my Facebook status today. So very true.

  • mvg

    I just came back with my youngest son from successfully completing his drivers license test (second try!).  While I am so thrilled for him, the joy of the independence and freedom to take himself wherever he needs to go,  but a part of me is sad, as I know from when my older son started driving that this is one more big step as they grow up and away from you, all good, but bittersweet. I so loved the time in the car driving together as it is one of the few times once they are teens that you have uninterrupted time to talk.  When the event or activity or school is fresh in their mind and they will share.   I also know however, that it’s an excellent way for them to become more confident and self reliant and an important step to get them ready to leave for college in two years.  I love your expression,  The days are long, but the years are short,  I think of it often and reflect on how time has gone so quickly with my precious sons.  Thank you Gretchen.  I am still reading the book, and relate to just about everything you say!!

  • When my kids were young and home with me all day, I agreed with this wholeheartedly. Now, I think it all goes too fast. 

  • Hope you have a great KC visit. So sorry about the super-hot weather. A reader in Leawood.

    • gretchenrubin

      We had a great time! And were pretty lucky with the weather. Thanks!

  • J

    That is one of the phrases I repeat most often from your book. I also remind my daughters as they sometimes, being teens they forget to enjoy every single moment, because the days are long but the years are most definitely short.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy it struck a chord with you.

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  • JaySFO

    I just used the term, “The days are long but the years are short,” in a post I made on Facebook. I then googled it to see the origin. That’s how I found you. So nice to see it was you. I read your book The Happiness Project, and I loved it. Thanks so much for your writing.

  • Danielle Bartran

    I’m in the trenches now, desperate for a glimpse of myself…and then the funny things of being around little children, like them slipping on the floor, or using funny phrased “you teached me this” and I’m snapped into reality, that maybe it’s not too bad. The days: they are LONG, and exhausting. But some day these children will be teenagers, and I will wake them up with enthusiasm and joy. Payback. I look forward to it 🙂