Fill in the Blank: X Is a Good Servant But a Bad Master

Happier At Home book cover

I love to collect variations on phrases, such as the “X is the new Y.” “Orange is the new black,” “Breakfast is the new lunch,” “Forties are the new thirties,” “Halloween is the new Christmas,” or–and I was inspired by this one for Happier at Home–“September is the new January.” (I started this happiness project in September, instead of January, because September also seems like a good time for a fresh start.)

I came up with my own fill-in-the-blank phrase, “___ is a good servant but a bad master.” I’ve been thinking about different ways to fill in that blank.

Because I’ve been writing and thinking about habits for so long, to write Better Than Before, my first answer is, no surprise, habit. And indeed, habit is a good servant but a bad master. A very, very good servant, and a very, very bad master.

Other possibilities…

Money

Technology (or Facebook, Twitter, email…)

Alcohol

Punctuality

Caffeine

Television

Anger

Food

Ambition

Planning

The flesh

Ego

Leisure

Productivity

What would you add? I don’t know why I get such a big kick out of lists like this, but I do.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

DISCOVER MORE

Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.