Ripple

When I was little, I was always puzzled by the maxim, "A stitch in time saves nine." I couldn't figure out what that meant. Finally, light dawned: a single stitch, made in good time, saves the trouble of making nine stitches later. In other words, a little effort now saves a lot of effort later.

That notion underlies several of the tips below. The other notion: when I have a reasonable amount of energy, life feels a lot less stressful.

1. Keep some cash in the house. For years, I badgered my husband to get cash so we had cash in the house. Finally, light dawned: Why did I get to decide that this was his problem? Now I get cash when we need a reserve, and I feel much better.

2. Never let your car’s gas level fall into the “empty” zone. Special note to my fellow under-buyers: if you can afford it, fill the tank! Save yourself from having to return to the gas station in two days.

3. Have an over-the-counter pain reliever at hand at all times.

4. Put your keys away in the same place every day. This sounds so easy -- and it is. It will make you so happy.

5. Turn out the light as soon as you’re sleepy. Since I started my happiness project, I've become a sleep nut. Getting enough sleep makes a huge difference in my sense of energy and cheerfulness.

6. Walk around the block.

7. Take ten minutes before bed to tidy up.

8. If you have to pack a lunch for anyone, get it ready the night before.

9. Have at least one good friend who lives in the neighborhood.

10. Make your bed. This sounds trivial, I know -- but try it, it really helps!

Samuel Johnson pointed out that "To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation." By making the effort to stay on top of the little things, you can keep the vexation to a minimum.

What am I missing? What tip would you add to this list?

* If you have a very serious question related to happiness and mental health, check out Ask Dr. Lloyd. There, you can post a question to an established psychiatrist, Dr. Lloyd Sederer. A great resource.

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
-- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
-- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 45,000 people get it)
-- Buy the book
-- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
-- Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.

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