I wrote something here two years ago, and it's one of my favorites. In fact, I still hear from people from people as they find it for the first time.
The headline reads, 17 Daily Habits My Dad Insists Will Make You Happier and More Successful, and it starts with the story of how my dad sent me an email (ALL CAPS IN THE SUBJECT LINE; he used to be big on that), with an idea for a column.
You'd like my dad. Everybody does. We have something new in common now, besides our names (Bill Murphy Sr. and Bill Murphy Jr., of course). It's that with the birth of my daughter last year, it's the first Father's Day where my dad and I are both dads.
With that in mind, I asked my dad to help me update the column we wrote together. (As a final edit, I'm sure he'd want me to tell you to download my free ebook, How to Raise Successful Kids, which includes that original column and a lot other great stuff.)
So here they are--the original 17 daily habits, plus a few more. (#1, #2, #3, and #21 are brand new; the rest are adapted and summarized from the original article.)
1. Enjoy your kids' immaturity.
Having kids is great, but it's also annoying, exhausting... etc. Heck, I was there as I saw my dad experience this, so I think I understand what he means. As he puts it, "You cannot tell a child to 'grow up' any more than you can a tree. They develop at their own pace."
2. Teach without words.
My dad's father died before I was born. He'd owned a pharmacy in Pawtucket, R.I., and as my father put it, he "learned so much by watching my dad every day go to his store and work. I learned, among other things, the value of working regularly for your son's well being. I also what it is to respect women from the way he treated my mother."
3. Have fun with your kids.
"Delight in watching t-ball, for example," my dad says. "The most important thing I think is realizing you have no idea about the value of life until you have seen your own daughter or son."
4. Carpe diem.
No matter how yesterday went--whether you had great triumphs or whether you wish you'd spent the whole day in bed--remember that every new day is a new opportunity. You can't rest on yesterday's accomplishments, and you never have to repeat yesterday's mistakes.
5. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love.
Your spouse, your kids, your parents, your close friends-whoever they are-make sure that you find lots of time to spend time with the people you truly care about.
6. At the same time, love the ones you're with.
There are many different kinds of love, and here my dad talked about showing respect and concern for the people you spend your days with. "That is simply, love everyone," is how my dad put it, and he added a quote from Thomas Merton: "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-we find it with another."
7. Work hard.
You can't always determine what you get out of something, but you can often control what you put into it. When I was growing up and I'd be anxious over some school assignment or other project, my dad would usually ask me the same question afterward: "Did you give it your best shot? Then forget about it."
8. At the end of the day, go home.
This one seems simple, until you start to realize how few of us practice it. Heck, it's 11:55 pm, and I'm still writing this article.
9. Later, go to bed.
"Get the rest you need. Your body needs sleep--not just 'rest and relaxation'--for it to work well," my dad insists. Heck, people don't even seem to feel the need to pretend that they don't need sleep anymore.
10. Get some exercise.
My dad's sport is swimming. He came to it late, my dad has the zeal of a convert. I guess it was four years ago he did a half-mile, open water ocean swim in Narragansett, R.I. (kind of nerve-wracking for his family and friends to watch, but he did it).
11. Have a little faith.
As a lawyer--the kind of lawyer who takes on real clients and tries real cases in court-dad has pretty much seen it all. He also has stronger religious (Catholic) faith than most people I know. As he puts it, it helps immensely if you believe in something bigger than yourself.
12. Learn another language.
I took Latin in high school, but my dad really studied it--along with ancient Greek. He's dabbled in Farsi, and although I have to admit it's amusing to hear him speaking French--or even better, Spanish. (Not that I should talk, really). As he put it: "Whether you're literally learning another language or simply learning how to do new things and to challenge your preconceptions, the lesson is clear: Keep learning."
13. Read every day.
My dad reads as much as anyone I've ever known. Plus, he remembers what he reads. By way of comparison, I could hardly remember what was in the original column from two years ago--and I'm the one who wrote it. Importantly, as I noted then, my dad usually reads about things that have nothing to do with his work.
14. Keep your wardrobe simple.
I've finally come around to this advice that my dad started giving me back in the 1990s, when I was first working. It probably would have saved a lot of time over the years.
15. Shine your shoes.
Okay, my dad is a practicing lawyer, and so he often wears shoes that need shining. I'm actually a non-practicing lawyer-turned-writer-slash-digital-media-marketing guy, which basically means I no longer have to wear suites, ties, or shined shoes. That said, I think the larger point makes sense--check small things, and care about how you look.
16. Tell the people you love that you love them.
Hey, we're back to love. This time, my dad means, "articulate it." For example, when I talk to my dad, he'll tell me to tell my wife that he loves her. Amusingly, he'll add that I should be sure to mention that he means he loves her "appropriately."
17. Don't worry.
My dad is a worrier. So am I, come to think of it. That said, worrying rarely improves the odds of good things happening, and can actually diminish those odds.
18. Be kind to animals.
If you want to treat a dog well, my dad would say, treat it like a dog. Don't try to make it into something it isn't, and doesn't want to be (for example, a little human being). Help it become the best possible version of itself.
19. Hire good people.
My dad had the same secretary for many years. She was great, and helped him realize that even when you're working by yourself, you have to be willing to depend on others for help. The most productive people in the world often succeed because they refuse to do some things.
20. Repeat as needed.
None of these items are actions so much as they are behaviors. The first time you commit to them, you won't see results. Over a lifetime, however, they can greatly improve your life. You know that old quote: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.
21. Remember that it's not about you.
I talked with my dad this afternoon, and he had one more item to add to this list, which is to remember that you're not the center of the universe--something that applies doubly so when you have kids.
What do you think? What other good, fatherly advice can you share in the comments below? We're eager to hear--and to say Happy Father's Day!