10 Secrets of Adulthood to Make You Happier at Home

Excerpted from Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin.

Years ago, I started keeping a list of my Secrets of Adulthood—the large and small lessons I’d mastered as I’d grown up. Recent additions included:

Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.

It’s enormously helpful, and surprisingly difficult, to grasp the obvious.

You need new friends and old friends.

The quickest way to progress from A to B is not to work the hardest.

It’s easier to prevent pain than to squelch it (literally and figuratively).

Where you start makes a big difference in where you end up.

The opposite of a profound truth is also true.

A change is as good as a rest.

It’s more important to say something than to say the right thing.

The best reading is rereading.

One of the most helpful of these Secrets of Adulthood holds that “Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Why is this true? Perhaps it’s the tangible sense of control, or the relief from visual noise, or the release from guilt.

In the span of a happy life, having a messy desk or an overflowing closet is clearly trivial, and yet creating order gives a disproportionate boost of energy and cheer.

(Of all the resolutions that I’ve proposed, which one do people most often mention that they’ve tried, with great success? The resolution to “Make your bed.”)

Photo © Dave Cross Photography


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