A Little Happier: A Happiness Lesson from a Founding Father.

When I was still working as a lawyer, before I switched to writing, I worked at the Federal Communications Commission. My former boss, Chairman Reed Hundt, had a line he often quoted, and it made a big impression on me.

It’s from the Founding Father Benjamin Franklin:

“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

Note: “Dear” is an old-fashioned term for “costly.”

Meaning: Experience is a costly way to learn, but sometimes it’s the only thing that can teach us. And I find that immensely comforting. Sometimes, the only way to learn is to learn the hard way!

As I mention, the reason that I know Kim Scott, one of the co-hosts of the terrific podcast Radical Candor, is that we worked at the FCC together.

Listen to this mini-podcast episode by clicking PLAY below.

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Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


Happier listening!

  • Blair424

    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
    -Vern Law

  • Mimi Gregor

    I think that part of wisdom is being able to learn not only from our mistakes, but from the mistakes of others. I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed a relative or friend do something that cost them dearly in the end. I’ve always made note of it, and told myself, “Mimi — that is just something to remember NOT to do!”

  • Deborah

    My grandpa used a Yiddish expression to mean a similar thing. If a mistake had cost us money, he would console us that it was ‘lernen gelt’ (learning money).

  • wendy

    Dear is not an old-fashioned word! It’s British English and we still use it today