My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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Story: The Things That Go Wrong Often Make the Best Memories.

For the weekly videos, I now tell a story. I’ve realized that for me, and I think for many people, a story is what holds my attention and makes a point most powerfully.

This week’s story: The things that go wrong often make the best memories.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Have you ever had something go very wrong–which then turned into a great memory?

If you want to read more along these lines, check out…

Eight excellent tips for living that my parents gave me.

Sometimes flawed can be more perfect than perfection.

Further Secrets of Adulthood.

You can also read more about this in Happier at Home, chapter 10.

Find the archives of videos here.  More than 1.3 MILLION views. Don’t forget to subscribe!

I'm deep in the writing of my next book, Before and After, about making and breaking habits, and there's nothing more satisfying than reading the success stories of people who have changed a habit. If you have a Before-and-After story of a habit you changed, and you're willing to share it here on the blog, please contact me here. Once a week, I'll post a story. We can all learn from each other.

It Makes Me Happy To Spot These Symbols Hidden in Familiar Logos.

Along with koans, paradoxes, teaching stories, and aphorisms, I get a big kick out of spotting visual symbols, hidden in familiar logos. They add a little burst of pleasure to everyday life.

I was amazed when someone pointed out this symbol. How had I missed it? Once I knew it was there, it was so obvious: an arrow between the E and the X



I always had a dim sense that the arrow was off-center, but never thought about it until my older daughter pointed out the reason. The arrow makes a smile that goes from A to Z.



Love this one! It’s a little harder to spot. Look hard…do you see the chocolate kiss, on its side, between the K and the I?







I’d love to know more examples. Do you know of any great hidden symbols in logos? Or am I the only one who loves to collect this kind of thing?

“I Still Feel a Very Strong and Positive Pleasure in Being Stranded in Queer Quiet Places.”

chesterton“I can recall in my childhood the continuous excitement of long days in which nothing happened;  and an indescribable sense of fullness in large and empty rooms.  And with whatever I retain of childishness…I still feel a very strong and positive pleasure in being stranded in queer quiet places, in neglected corners where nothing happens and anything may happen; in unfashionable hotels, in empty waiting-rooms, or in watering-places out of the season.  It seems as if we needed such places, and sufficient solitude in them, to let certain nameless suggestions soak into us and make a richer soil of the unconscious.”

–G. K. Chesterton, “On the Thrills of Boredom”

I feel exactly the same way. Years ago, my sister and I stayed at a small, shabby motel in the middle of Nebraska, and it gave me the most tremendous sense of excitement. Very odd.

Perhaps relatedly, when I’m trying to calm myself, I often envision places that are usually crowded and busy in their empty, quiet times–an empty parking lot, a deserted Metropolitan Museum.

How about you? Do you love diners in small towns, and the like?

A Trip to the Pediatrician’s Office Reminded Me of This Important Truth.

stethoscope1This week, I took both my daughters to the pediatrician for their annual check-ups. I was a little late, but the need to turn in camp health forms got me to schedule the appointments, finally.

As I walked out of the second appointment this morning, I found myself thinking, “Good! That’s another thing to cross off my to-do list.”

But this afternoon, another thought occurred to me. At various points, several of my friends would have joyfully given all they possessed for a fifteen-minute appointment with the pediatrician that ended with the cheerful words, “Everything looks great! See you in the fall for flu shots.”

Once again, I remind myself: The things for which I’m most grateful are often the things that I take for granted.

One day, we all have that bad visit to the doctor’s office, but this week, our visits were good. And I want never to lose sight of how very, very grateful I am for that.

Secret of Adulthood: By Doing a Little Bit Each Day, You Can Get a Lot Accomplished.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:



We tend to over-estimate what we can do in a short time (say, an afternoon), and under-estimate what we can do over a longer time (a month) a little bit at a time. This realization led me to my very helpful resolution to Suffer for fifteen minutes. (I write about it a lot in Happier at Home, chapter on “Time.”)

At the same time, it’s true that some people prefer to do a lot packed into a short time, and others prefer to do less over a longer period. Are you a tortoise or a hare? I asked a friend, “Are you a tortoise or a hare? If a piece of work took 21 hours, would you rather work for 3 hours  a day for 7 days, or 7 hours a day for 3 days?” She said, “I’d rather work for 2 days, for 10.5 hours!” A true hare.

How about you?