Tag Archives: A Little Happier

A Little Happier: A Tough Happiness Lesson from Hollywood’s Judd Apatow.

Ever since I read Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy, by Hollywood producer, writer, director, and actor Judd Apatow (This is 40, Knocked Up, Freaks and Geeks, Girls, etc.), I’ve been haunted by this story.

During the course of his interview with the legendary James L. Brooks, Judd Apatow mentions how tough it was for him when his parents split up in 1984, when he was 13. His mother moved out.

He says, “She had a bit of a mental break after the divorce. She claimed that she thought she was going to leave and come right back, and my dad immediately moved his girlfriend in. Right before she died, she told me, ‘I always thought I was going to come right back. I always thought it was going to be a couple of weeks.’”

This strikes me as a great happiness reminder: we have to be very careful not to assume that we can predict how other people will react, especially to big dramatic gestures. We may have to deal with consequences that we didn’t predict.

Have you ever made a big gesture — with unexpected consequences?

 

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A Little Happier: Sometimes, the Best Solution Is To Do Nothing at All.

My mother made this observation about an air-conditioner vent, but I’ve found that it’s widely applicable: Sometimes, the best solution is to do nothing at all.

In the photo, you can see the vent. What do you think — were we right not to worry about a vent cover? I never notice the vent, but then again, it’s true that I almost never notice that kind of thing.

Have you ever realized that instead of coming up with some complex solution, you could just…do nothing? It’s astonishing to me how often this works.

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

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A Little Happier: Some Sage Parenting Advice from My Father.

My father gave me some wise advice when he told me, “As a parent, at some point, you have to switch from advisor to cheerleader.”

I hear advice all the time: “Parents need to let children make their own mistakes, let children fail, give them independence,” etc., but I understood that idea much better when my father put it into those terms.

And thinking about my own experience as I was switching from law to writing, I realize how valuable it was for me — when my parents acted as cheerleaders rather than advisors when I was making a challenging decision.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I realize that this is far easier said than done.

Have you had to hold yourself back from giving advice to your children, or other family members?

 

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

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A Little Happier: We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time.

As a parent, it’s very tempting to try to prod our children into useful or enriching activities: play chess, practice piano, play tennis.

But sometimes children want to do things that might look like a big waste of time—and when my children are doing that, I remind myself of the many examples I’ve heard of, where what looked like “wasted time” to an adult ended up being very useful to that child, later in life.

Because of my current obsession with color, I was reading a book called How to Decorate put out by Farrow & Ball, a well-known maker of paints and wallpapers.

This passage I read is from Joa Studholme, who is part of Farrow & Ball’s creative team.

“I had no formal training. I am Farrow & Ball homegrown, nurtured by an astonishing group of people. However, as a child, I did spend an inordinate amount of time rearranging my set of Caran d’Ache crayons to see how different colour combinations worked. My dolls’ house was constantly redecorated and I was always experimenting with colour, painting my ceiling bright yellow to try to fill the room with sunlight or creating cosy spaces in cupboards by painting them dark.”

As a child, did you do something that adults dismissed as “a waste of time” that proved to be no waste? Or have you seen that phenomenon in children you know?

 

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

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A Little Happier: An Important Lesson from a Sticky Note on a Friend’s Computer.

A note on a friend’s computer taught me a giant lesson about writing — and about life. Down with boredom. Whenever possible, skip the boring parts!

In writing all my books, if there’s an aspect of my subject that bores me, I figure out a way to write around it. And no one has ever seemed to notice.

I try to do the same thing in all aspects of my life. Down with boredom. It’s not always easy, but it’s often more possible than you might imagine.

Have you ever figured out a way to skip a boring part?

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

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

 

 Happier listening!