Secrets of Adulthood


I started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin just a few days ago; I am over halfway done with the book and am loving it so far. Gretchen is a writer who lives in New York and is married with two daughters. From an outsider’s perspective, she has the “perfect” life, but on the inside, she felt like there was a piece of happiness missing, which prompted her to start a year-long experiment called “The Happiness Project.” She did extensive research on the topic of happiness; she read multiple books and also talked to people in her circles to develop a list of the top items that bring people happiness. From there, she developed her own plan in which she focused on changing one thing in her life every month for an entire year that in theory, would grow her happiness. Her book is a documentation of this process.

I can usually tell right away if I will like a book or not. In the first chapter, she shares a personally cultivated list called the “Secrets of Adulthood” that I immediately identified with. It was light, yet truthful and made me smile. I wanted to share the list with you. Her “Secrets” are in bold and I added some commentary in italics. Enjoy.

People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think. 

She is SO right. I don’t mean this in a rude way but a lot of people are self-involved. We spend precious mental energy worrying what others are going to think about a job we did, a small mistake, or even what we are wearing. The truth of the matter is, other people are probably busy worrying about their own mistakes vs. critiquing ours.

It’s okay to ask for help. 

Yes, yes, yes. In my opinion, only fools refuse help. We can always learn something from somebody else. It is also important to seek wise counsel when asking for advice. For example, if you are wanting to grow your career, ask for advice from someone who is in a position you esteem to be in vs. a person who is always complaining about how much they hate their job. 

Most decisions don’t require extensive research. 

Oh wow, how true is this? In the past, it has been hard for me to make decisions, even over the smallest things: where to go for dinner, what side dish to make for a holiday party, what shirt to wear, where to go on vacation, and the list goes on. (I am sure Cody is shaking his head in agreement.) Note to self (and to you): Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. 

Do good, feel good. 

You can’t argue with that. The best thing to do when you are feeling down is to invest in others. 

It’s important to be nice to everyone. 

The golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Our grade school teachers really did know a thing or two. 

Bring a sweater. 

I love this one. How simply true. I always debate on whether or not I should bring a sweater and I never regret having one. 

By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished. 

Amen to this, Gretchen. This is one of my number one mantras. Never underestimate the power of a small step. 

Soap and water remove most stains. 

Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch. 

This is truly a magical fix for everything. 

If you can’t find something, clean up. 

You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do. 

I never thought about it this way before but I completely agree. There is no reason to quiet or hide the things that you like to do. Over time, if you suppress what you like to do in lieu of doing something else (what others want to do, what you feel like you should do, or to live up to pre-conceived expectations) you will slowly lose a piece of yourself and your happiness. 

Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy. 

Gretchen gives wonderful examples of this in her book. The idea is that the process of working towards a goal or a greater good is satisfying and provides happiness, but you may not enjoy every single task necessary to get to the goal. For example, if you are training for a marathon you may not enjoy every training run but the collective journey of running the marathon and crossing the finish line will ultimately give you happiness. 

What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in awhile. 

Are we soul sisters, Gretchen? This is why I love the 90/10 rule

You don’t have to be good at everything. 

It’s impossible to be good at everything, so don’t stress yourself trying. You have unique skills, and talents. Spend time focusing on what you are good at and challenge yourself to use your strengths in new ways each day. 

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. 

You will fail your way to success. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. 

Over-the-counter medicines are effective. 

This is the only one I couldn’t identify with but felt it would be an injustice not to include it since this is Gretchen’s list, not my own. My list would include a “Food is medicine.” shoutout.  

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. 

This is another goodie. Too many times the thought of not being perfect paralyzes us from putting good, even excellent, work out there. Here is a little truth that will change your life: There is no such thing as perfection. 

What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you–and vice versa. 

People actually prefer you buy wedding gifts off their registry. 

I guess there is a reason they register for it. 🙂

You can’t profoundly change your children’s nature by nagging them or signing them up for classes. 

Or your spouses. 

No deposit, no return. 

2 Corinthians 9:6 

“Remember this: Whoever reaps sparingly will also sow sparingly, whoever sows generously will reap generously.”

Do you have any of your own “Secrets” or things you have learned throughout your life you would like to share? Comment below!

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