Advice to Graduates from the Jolly Librarian: Five Small Tips for Happier Living

It’s that time of year when speakers everywhere provide wisdom to graduates. The sort of big-picture advice such as “do what you love,” “find passion in your work,” “love people, not things.” This is all valid advice. But sometimes, little things can make for happier living as well. So here in no particular order are the Jolly Librarian’s tips for making life a little more joyful on a daily basis.

  • Just wait in line. Today I was waiting in line for a slice of pizza at Costco. A woman bypassed us all, plonked down money on the counter, and took three cups. “I just want drinks,” she said. The man behind me yelled at her. “Excuse me. Did you not see the line here?” And then a most disagreeable encounter occurred. For her. For him. And for all those who had to witness it. I’m sure she was thinking that since she wasn’t ordering food, it was no big deal. But refusing to wait in line is just rude. It sends a message that whatever’s going on in your life is more important than in other people’s. And let’s face it: If you’re at Costco at 2 p.m., then obviously, it’s not. In fact, unless you’re Batman and the Bat Sign is flashing in the sky, just wait in line.
  • Let small annoyances go. On the other hand, if you’re the person waiting in line when someone cuts through, then don’t let it ruin your day. Speak up if necessary, but then let it go. Letting someone else’s boorishness control your emotions is not the best use of your time. 
  • If you haven’t laughed at least five times on an average day, give yourself a slap upside the head. One of the best things about working in our library is that we all find ourselves and each other incredibly amusing. We send each other funny emails, play harmless pranks, and, in general, find library life fun. And our liking of each other shows. Students often say we make them feel welcome; we do that because we’re basically having fun at our jobs.
  • Never enter a competitive whining contest. I once worked with two guys who were always trying to “out-busy” each other. The simple question, “How was your weekend?” elicited a list of things that had to be done, the fun times they missed, the pressures they faced, and on and on. When one of them once told me he was too busy to breathe, I made a resolution never to ask him how he was again and certainly never try to out-complain him. Because the winner of a whining contest is still a whiner.
  • Always have something to look forward to. It’s easy to get into a rut, where days are filled iwth work and nights are filled with activities getting us ready for work again. So one way to get around that is to have something planned that’s enjoyable. It can be big or small. Right now, I’m looking forward to a vacation this summer. But I’m also anticipating the good novel that’s waiting by my bedside. I’m also looking forward to going to dinner with some friends on Friday. 

Of course, there are many big things we should do But often what makes a difference between a happy and unhappy life are the little ones.


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