I’ve started a new feature — the True Rules series. These aren’t general rules for living, like “Enjoy the present.” They’re more concrete lessons that come out of people’s specific experiences.
Traditions boost happiness. Every August, my college roommate comes out from California with her family to spend several weeks in New Jersey with her in-laws. At some point while she’s on the East Coast, according to our tradition, she takes the train into Manhattan, and we spend most of the day going for a long walk. (One of the nicest things about New York City is that when you walk even a mile, you feel like you’ve really traveled far; each neighborhood is so different from the others.)
We only see each other one day each year, but we cover a lot of ground on that day. Highlights of this year’s walk include her stopping to read choice bits from Coleridge’s letters, a trip to a bookstore, and our discovery that we’re both raving fans of Twilight — we spent a long time trying to plumb the mystery of its strange power.
Along the way, I asked for a True Rule, and she had a good one:
If you can’t watch the video: “One of my True Rules – and I’ve used it with my kids a lot, and it has held true – is to try something eight times before you give up in a snit.”
Eight times is a good number. Your child begs to try something, then wants to quit right away — eight piano lessons, eight attempts on rollerblades, eight ballet classes is enough to permit a real judgment. I’m going to try that on my children — and on myself.
* Benjamin Franklin is one of the patron saints of people doing happiness projects; in fact, he inspired the design of my Resolution Charts. So I was thrilled to see this homage to him by Maira Kalman on her great blog, And the Pursuit of Happiness.
* Speaking of Resolutions Charts, if you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.