Gretchen Rubin

Like me, do you crave praise and recognition for the slightest good deed?

I have certain words and phrases that I love, and one of those words is evidence. (Others include “cargo,” “scintillating scotoma” and “intangible hereditable.”)

In law school, I liked learning about kinds of evidence: fruit of the poisonous tree, dying declarations, excited utterances. I loved the title of Edward Tufte’s book, Beautiful Evidence. And I was intrigued by a phrase I first heard from a friend who is a terrorism expert: secret evidence.

In general, “secret evidence” means information that is classified and need not be shown to the accused. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own kind of secret evidence.

A French proverb that I’ve quoted a million times is “There is no such thing as love, there are only proofs of love.” Which I take to mean that I shouldn’t march around claiming to feel love, but instead must show my love through actions.

One of the most challenging of my happiness-project resolutions is “Don’t expect praise or appreciation.” I really crave those gold stars, but I’ve been trying to do loving actions – especially for the Big Man – without expecting any recognition and without expecting him even to notice.

Oftentimes, there’s no way he could know, because my loving deed is something invisible, like me not losing my temper or not nagging.

Boy, it’s kind of pathetic how much I want to get gold stars.

But this morning it occurred to me that I could think of these gestures as my secret evidence. They are proofs of love, even if other people don’t know about them.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with entertainment options, a great place to get recommendations for books, movies, music, and gadgets is Head Butler. Sometimes the recommendations are for the latest things, sometimes for long-forgotten classics. I mostly use the reading suggestions, and find them very reliable.

icon emailNewsletterLight

One Last Thing

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up to get my free monthly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here and the Facebook Page.

Sign Up Now