The 40% Rule
When I was in college, I had a 40% rule.
I was in college for a very long time. I liked school. I changed my major a few times both because I was interested in everything and also to make it last longer. I took extra courses. When my parents finally told me they had educated me quite enough (which they had), I reluctantly graduated.
Anyway, with my many years of experience with college studies, I learned that mostly you have one great course in a five-course semester. If you have two, you are going to have a spectacular semester. If you are really interested for 2 of your five classes, you are happy 40% of the time. And that’s good enough. Very good, as a matter of fact.
(I also used to advise my younger co-students – which was almost everybody, I stayed in school so long – that if possible, take the professor and not the course. A good teacher makes everything more interesting. A bad teacher can make the most fascinating subject into a big sleepy yawnfest.)
A while back I read Dan Harris’ 10% Happier, a book about meditation. It’s excellent. His premise is that if a small change could make even you even a little happier, wouldn’t you try it? Why not be a little happier?
And I was thinking about that book and about my 40% rule in college, and I realized how I could put them together right now. If “40% Happy” is sufficient when you are young, imagine how great it is when you are older.
And when you think about it, you only need to be 10% happier to get to your 40%. Because you already sleep 30% of the day, and that’s a really happy time.
Here are some suggestions to add 10% more happiness to your day:
– Find a really beautiful tree in your neighborhood, and any time you go out, make sure you drive by that tree and let its awesomeness envelop you.
– Put a dollar bill and a wrapped candy in the pocket of every coat you own. When you put on your coat, you will find some money and something sweet.
– Wash your bed linens in the evening. When you take them from the dryer, put then back on the bed while they are still warm, and get right in.
– Say “I love you so much and I’m so glad you called” when you answer the phone. Say this to the recorded voice in the next robocall you receive. It will make you feel a lot better than swearing at the recording.
– On the subject of phone calls, keep silly putty on your desk – I guarantee this will improve your phone calls.
– Did you ever notice how your pets will know what time the sun comes in what window? Sit by that window too for a moment.
– Get yourself a really nice pen and a notebook with a soft leather cover than you love to touch. This will make business meetings 10% better.
– Make breakfast special. In nice weather, sit outside in your bathrobe with your coffee. In bad weather, wrap up in a blanket at the table. Use a wine glass for your orange juice. Use real napkins.
– Bring a pair of slippers to work. Put them in your file cabinet. If you have to work late, take your shoes off and wear your slippers.
– Relax in a nice hot bath. Use some fragrant bath salts like lavender or eucalyptus. Bring an orange with you and eat it slowly in the tub.
– When you get up in the morning, flex your muscles. Feel your biceps, Be impressed.
– Leave a book of poetry by your bed. Read a poem before you go to sleep.
– Watch an old favorite movie. Make popcorn.