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A Little Happier: Why It’s Okay to Be Boring

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I’m a big fan of the writing of Karl Ove Knausgaard. In Book 6 of his massive, multi-volume, autobiographical novels My Struggle: Book One (Amazon, Bookshop), he writes about his relationship with his brother Geir.

“When we moved to Malmo I had been afraid Geir and I would lose touch. That’s what distance does; when the time between conversations gets longer, intimacy diminishes, the little things connected to one’s daily life lose their place, it seems odd to talk about a shirt you just bought or to mention you’re thinking of leaving the dishes until morning when you haven’t spoken to a person for two weeks or a month, that absence would seem instead to call for more important topics, and once they begin to determine the conversation there’s no turning back, because then it’s two diplomats exchanging information about their respective realms in a conversation that needs to be started up from scratch, in a sense, every time, which gradually becomes tedious, and eventually it’s easier not to bother phoning at all, in which case it’s even harder the next time, and then suddenly it’s been a half a year of silence.”

For this very reason, my mother, father, sister Elizabeth and I all have a habit we call “update.” Every several days, we send group emails with the subject line "update." These emails are simply that – updates. Often these updates feature very insignificant, not-particularly-newsworthy aspects of our lives. The motto of our family updates is: "It's okay to be boring."

We've learned that being in constant communication about mundane things brings us closer than writing only when one of us has news to share.

Staying in touch about the minutiae makes us all feel much more connected to each other.

If you’d like to listen to Elizabeth and me talk about our update, you can listen to episode 2 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.

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