Secret of Adulthood: Do Nothing In Excess, Not Even Moderation.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:


Of course, what is excessive, and what is moderation, is not always easy to determine. I wrote about the lure of the idea of “moderation” a few weeks ago.

As an Abstainer and an Upholder, I have to work to ensure that I keep a moderate amount of excess in my life. How about you?

  • molly

    I’m not sure I would have agreed when I started reading your material, but your posts have really caused me to reflect on my own habits. I mentioned in a previous one that I realized at some point that my congenitally moderate personality was undermining my career because I was even moderate in making myself work, so not pushing myself to complete projects. I’m also moderate in my spending, and while I would never advocate breaking the bank or going into debt over something, I’ve gotten more excessive in my book buying habits. Why not just buy the books I love so I have them on hand rather than continually taking them out of the library? And yes — your books are two on the top shelf:)

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear it resonates with you.

  • love the picture 🙂 can i borrow it (will link back to you)?

    • gretchenrubin

      Of course! Glad you like it!

  • Ryan

    I thought the quote goes, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. I first read that on a bathroom wall in college, and I interpreted it as a sign that it’s ok to drink more! Perhaps the quote’s meaning is also applicable toward ‘applying wisdom from quotes’ 🙂

    Great little post!

  • Nicole

    This is also about knowing when to let go, isn’t it?

  • peninith1

    There’s an Epistle of St. Paul in which he ‘spews out’ a congregation because they are ‘lukewarm’. That makes this quotation make sense to me. Imagine an organization or religious community that was ‘meh’ about faith, belief, good works and the like. Imagine a person with no passion in life whatever. Not a pretty thought. I know that ‘having passion’ for something you do is such a contemporary buzzword that it has become an empty term for merely liking moderately to do something. I’m all for the work that calls you out of bed in the small hours, to be done with enthusiasm right into the dawn.

  • bill

    I think it all depends.If the area in question is generally true to all of us,such as the number of sleep hours,a social standard can be easily used to judge what is “excess” or “moderation”;on the other hand,if it varies from person to person,such as one’s capacity for alcohol,the standard for “moderation” can be defined by oneself.In this case,it all depends on that person to decide how much difference is significant enough for him/her.

  • To be a little pedantic, what about becoming a better person, or doing better at your job? Maybe take it easy and certainly don’t compromise other values, although this is only taking into account the first half of that quote 😉

  • jony
  • niki
  • Astarelly

    I love this quote – it’s to the point and clever (makes people stop and think, sort of like putting a question mark at the end of a sentence for no reason?). It’s important to recognise what is important to you and spend time on that, while also spending time on the things that are necessary. This is so relevant to my happiness project February – Body concentration. If you’re interested in reading to it, it’s on my blog – hopefully i can inspire people the way you do!