I resolve to keep things in perspective.

The Happiness Project Blog Logo

One of my resolutions is “Remember how little most things matter in the long run.” Also, I’m trying to be less defensive when I make mistakes.

I hate to be wrong, I hate to screw up, I hate to forget to do something – and it really bothers me when I do. I want to bore everyone with my endless explanations, justifications, and excuses.

This came up last night. At the Second-Grade Parent Social at the Big Girl’s school, a friend asked me if the Big Girl’s birthday party was going to be a surprise.

“No,” I said (what chucklehead, I wondered, would give a surprise party for an eight-year-old?). “Why do you ask?”

“Because the invitation says ‘Surprise,’” my friend explained, very nicely.

“Yes,” someone else chimed in. “I wondered about that.”

“Oh, my gosh, really? Does it? No,” I answered. “it’s not a surprise! With all the invitations I wrote, how did I manage not to see that?” I did laugh it off, but before long I raced home to look at the card. Sure enough, right at the top, it says, SURPRISE!

I immediately sent an email to class parents, with the subject head, “The surprise is on ME”:

Hello all – somehow, I did not notice that our birthday-party invitation has “SURPRISE” written on it.

How this is possible, I don’t know – but the party is NOT a surprise. Sorry.

What can I say? I feel like an idiot.

Hope to see you there! Gretchen

I’m sure no one cares – except to be relieved that there’s no danger that their seven- or eight-year-old is going to spill the beans – but it rattled me far more than it should have.

Why let it bother me? It was a silly mistake, but it made me feel defensive, anxious, out of control.

I keep reminding myself of the commandment, “Let it go.” In the long run, this doesn’t matter at all. In the short run, this doesn’t matter at all. In fact, it will probably be a funny story that we’ll be telling for twenty years.

From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.



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.