With time and experience, life teaches us all lessons. I keep a running list of my "Secrets of Adulthood"—the things I've learned, the hard way. (For instance, here are my Secrets of Adulthood for Habits.)
I write about these in my books, I talk about them in my podcast "Happier," I think about them all the time. There's something about distilling an idea or observation into a proper "Secret of Adulthood" that makes it easier for me to remember.
- What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.
- For the most part, I'm very much like other people, but our differences are very important.
- Hell is other people; Heaven is other people.
- Every medicine can become poison. (Email, caffeine, social media, work, treats...)
- I manage what I monitor. So if something's important to me, I should figure out a way to monitor it.
- Never let myself get too hungry, too sleepy, or too cold. And never pass up the chance to use a bathroom.
- I bring my own weather to the picnic.
- Just because something is important to me doesn't mean that it's important to someone else.
- A stumble may prevent a fall. This relates to the Strategy of Safeguards in my book Better Than Before.
- One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself. This is one of my Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness.
- Outer order contributes to inner calm. I'm finishing up a little book with this title. Stay tuned.
- I can't expect to be motivated by motivation. This realization was a big inspiration for my forthcoming book The Four Tendencies.
- It's easier to change my circumstances than to change myself.
- Things often get harder before they get easier.
- The things that go wrong often make the best memories. My mother told me this, to calm me down before my wedding weekend.
- Choose the bigger life.
- Turning a computer on and off often fixes a glitch.
- When I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. This relates to the fun and helpful Strategy of Treats.
- What's fun for other people might not be fun for me--and vice versa.
- Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Cribbed from Voltaire.
- Now is now. I write about this in the conclusion of my book Happier at Home—which, I must say, is one of the best things I've written in my whole life.
- If I need to remember something, write it down. How many times have I regretted not remembering this Secret of Adulthood?
- Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.
- There is no wizard. (I will explain this in an upcoming episode of "A Little Happier.")
- The days are long, but the years are short.
What are your Secrets of Adulthood? I'd love to add many more to my list!