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A Little Happier: For Visits, Frequency Is More Important than Duration.


I often quote my father; he's very wise.

He reminds me to "Enjoy the process."

When my daughter Eliza was a senior in high school, he suggested, "As a parent, at some point, you have to switch from advisor to cheerleader."

When I got my first real job, he said, “If you accept the blame when you deserve it, you’ll get the responsibility.”

More recently, when I was talking to my father about whether it was worth the hassle for my family to make a very short trip home to Kansas City, he observed, "With visits, frequency is more important than duration."

I was immediately struck by the truth of that statement, and have already put it into action many times, in many contexts. Better to make many short visits than to "save up" for the rare long visit.

It's related to the success of making our "family updates," which is when Elizabeth, me, and our parents 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. But, it turns out, staying in touch about the minutiae makes us all feel much more connected to each other.

We've learned that being in constant communication about mundane things brings us closer than writing only rarely, when one of us has big news to share. The motto of our family updates is: "It's okay to be boring."

Frequency is more important than duration.

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