I really appreciate Gretchen Rubin. I’ve read all her books. I listen to her podcast. I follow her blog. I’ve signed up for her newsletter. I’ve been a Gretchen Rubin groupie for almost a decade now, with no signs of waning.
One of my favourite parts of the first book I read – her bestselling The Happiness Project – was her section titled Secrets of Adulthood. Here she lists a number of things that, on first glance, appear startlingly obvious. Things like:
- Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
- What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
- Bring a sweater.
- Soap and water remove most stains.
- The days are long, but the years are short.
- You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.
- Most decisions don’t require extensive research.
- No deposit, no return.
- You can’t profoundly change your children’s natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes.
- By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
Sometimes obvious things only become obvious (or relevant) with life experience. I think that’s one of the things about Gretchen Rubin’s list. While they seem obvious (and are) you can only properly internalize the messages once you’ve had a chance to live them.
We learn the hard way that wearing cute shoes is not worth the blisters. We learn through trial and error that going to bed early is almost always the best decision.
Maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating to be a parent? Some of the decisions our children make are so obviously illogical, doomed to failure, or strike us as being downright ridiculous. But they’re not adults yet and having that “Aha” moment can’t be forced down someone’s throat – it has to be lived.
Last week, still mulling over the various nuggets of wisdom from Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks, I thought to myself on a particularly overwhelming day: “I cannot get it all done.” Burkeman has assured me of that.
And then, I thought, “It does not all have to get done.”
I cannot get it all done. It does not all have to get done.
There are a lot of things I want to do, many things I should do and a nearly infinite array of things I could do. But I cannot do them all. And they do not all need doing.
I was only rearranging in my own mind something I already know and have discussed but still – it felt like an “aha” moment.
My own little secret of adulthood. Now to remember and apply this wisdom. Now that’s the tricky part.
And, for the record, Gretchen is right. Soap and water do remove most stains.
What about you? Any “Secrets of Adulthood” you’re willing to share?