A Little Happier: More Good Advice from My Mother

I’m lucky because my mother and father give excellent advice. Also, they never give advice unless they’re asked to give advice, a great quality that I try to emulate (often unsuccessfully, but I try). But sometimes they make an observation that serves as a kind of advice.

For instance, I often think back on something my mother said to me. This was years ago, at an extremely exciting moment in my life when I was in law school: I was calling home to tell my parents that I’d been elected to serve as the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal (that’s the law review for Yale Law School). It was a really, really big deal to me. As we were talking about it, she told me something, and I later repeated her remark to a friend, who thought it sounded a little unenthusiastic. When I told her what had happened, among other things, my mother said: Be grateful, because you worked hard, and you deserve it, but others also worked hard, and people don’t always get what they deserve.”

But in fact, what she said was very reassuring, especially in the long run. It’s comforting because it’s true. Sometimes we work hard, and we don’t get what we deserve. My mother’s observation has been very helpful to me in other circumstances when things didn’t go my way, and it has also helped me to feel grateful when things did go my way.

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