Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-03-25
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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From a beloved lifestyle philosopher and mother, a small book of wisdom about the big questions of life, from "Be careful what you give up" to "When you've made your point, sit down". "My mother gave me milk; I have tried to give my daughters milk and honey. Milk is our basic need; honey is the fun, the happiness, the joy." Thus Alexandra Stoddard introduces her new book of simple, profound truths for joyful living. Like her strong-selling Choosing Happiness , this small book illuminates a big idea. Stoddard, a mother, grandmother, and author of more than 25 books on personal fulfilment, shares a series of succinctly-stated principles worth living by. Each statement is fleshed out in a few brief, useful paragraphs. By turns wise ("Pain is inevitable; suffering is a choice"), controversial ("Don't feel guilty about your feelings toward your parents, stepparents, or in-laws"), affirming ("You don't have to prove anything to anyone"), and humorous ("When you discover something you love, stock up"), these short pieces cut to the essence of what's important and are oases of clarity amid life's chaos. Perfect for new graduates, new mothers, and as a treasured gift from woman to woman.

Table of Contents

Foreword xv
Find Work You Love That Supports You Financially 1(4)
It's Easier to Get into Things Than It Is to Get Out of Them 5(2)
Think Positively: You Will Live Longer Than a Pessimist 7(6)
In Really Tough Times, Regularly Take Time Off 13(4)
Don't Lay Down a Law with a Child That You Are Not Prepared to Enforce 17(4)
Travel Heavy 21(2)
You Don't Have to Prove Anything to Anyone 23(4)
An Invitation Is Not an Obligation 27(2)
Be Grateful but Don't Expect Gratitude 29(4)
Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering Is a Choice 33(4)
Be More a Generalist Than a Specialist 37(4)
Open Presents Slowly 41(2)
Give Anonymously 43(4)
Feel, Don't Just Think 47(4)
Maintain Your Unique Friendships with Both Sexes 51(2)
Unplug Technology with No Apologies 53(4)
Remember That Everyone Is Struggling 57(4)
When You Discover Something You Love, Stock Up 61(2)
Don't Be on Time, Be Early 63(4)
Listen to the Wisdom of Your Children 67(2)
Tell Yourself You Have Done Nothing Wrong 69(2)
Learn to Style Your Own Hair 71(4)
Don't Assume Anything 75(4)
Have Your Own Mad Money 79(2)
Move Your Feet 81(4)
Overlook Things 85(4)
Preparation is Paramount 89(4)
The Five-Hour Rule 93(4)
Express an Original Point of View 97(2)
Don't Save the Best for the Last 99(2)
No One Else Really Knows or Understands 101(4)
Onward and Inward 105(4)
When You Change One Thing, Feel Free to Rethink Everything 109(4)
Stick to Your Plan 113(4)
Don't See People for How They Could Be, but as They Really Are 117(4)
There Is No Security Except Within Us 121(4)
Exercise the Vocabulary of Thanks and Appreciation 125(4)
Develop the Rhythm of Buffer Time 129(2)
Think of Yourself: By Being Self-Centered, You May Be Benefiting the World 131(4)
Keep Doing What You're Doing 135(4)
Your Soul Is Not for Sale 139(2)
Have Your Own Independent Financial Advisor 141(2)
Don't Feel Guilty About Your Feelings Toward Your Parents, Stepparents, or In-laws 143(4)
Find a Way to Share Your Gifts 147(2)
Embrace Change 149(2)
Listen to the Wisdom of Your Body 151(4)
Finish Up Strong 155(6)
Love Your Own Company 161(2)
Remember That People Are Funny About Money 163(4)
Do Your Best and Leave the Rest 167(4)
Living Takes Time 171(4)
Be Careful What You Give Up 175(2)
Hurry Never 177(4)
You Are Smarter and Wiser Than You Think 181(2)
When You've Made Your Point, Sit Down 183


Things I Want My Daughters to Know
A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life

Chapter One

Find Work You Love That Supports You Financially

To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
John Dewey

The work we choose to do each day accumulatively becomes our life'swork. The opportunity to do good work stimulates our life force. Mylife has been shaped, enriched, and transformed by my love of my work.I work for life satisfaction. Through the happiest times in my life, as wellas the most painful ones, my work has always sustained me.

The world doesn't owe us anything. We owe everything to theworld. Our work is our way of expressing ourselves, of being a cocreatorin this dynamic earthly journey we call life. You decide what yourwork is, and your work may be much larger than your "job." Try to envisionthe big picture as you move along.

Through our work we give back to the world a portion of whatwe've been given. Our reward emerges from the work itself. We workto grow, to stretch ourselves, to discover new truths, to deepen, and toserve. We become more aware and more alive when we find work that we believe is important and that we love doing. We transcend ourselvesthrough work that makes us discover more about what we really believein and what we truly love to do.

Through our work we're given opportunities to reconsider ourthinking. In my career as a decorator, I was trained to create formalrooms based on eighteenth-century aesthetics. Through experience andexposure, I realized I enjoyed a more relaxed, informal style for living. Itbecame my mission to help clients create homes that reflected theirunique personal style and needs. This mission eventually led to my currentcareer as an author and speaker on living beautifully. Thus our workexpands our personal potential; we're rewarded with a greater understandingof what is true for us and what our contributions can be.

Why am I so happy that my work is always available to me? I amself-employed. I am a self-starter. I can prepare a lecture or seminar. I canwrite. I can decorate or sell art. Whatever I do, I enjoy the process. I ama student of life, of truth. I study the classics in the interstices of the day.I carry a tote bag with me when I travel so I can read, write in notebooks,and continue to learn.

When you find work you love that supports you financially, that isideal. Hundreds of people have confided in me that when they do workthey love -- as a teacher or a librarian, a yoga instructor, a college advisoror a dancer -- they don't need as much money because they arehappy. When people are not happy in their work, they have a tendencyto want more money because they are unfulfilled by their work.

If you don't love your work, but it puts food on the table and providesfor you and your loved ones, this is not ideal; but working to surviveis honorable. An actress waits on tables at a restaurant while sheauditions for roles. Temporarily, this is fine; you do what you have to doto live. This shouldn't be the case indefinitely, because it can be draining,sapping your vitality and enthusiasm, and selling your soul. This is not your true work; it is a paying job. If you must do this, enrich the restof your life by seeking out activities that will feed your soul.

What would be ideal work for you? What are you doing to movetoward this goal? What if you find work that fulfills your monetaryneeds and involves you to some degree, but is not wholly satisfying?What then? Try to enjoy fully the parts of it you can and satisfy otherinterests through volunteering, hobbies, and spending time with yourfamily. Your untapped skills may be put to good use through volunteerwork that may enrich you nontangibly.

Stay in touch with your feelings. You can't afford to become bitterbecause your job isn't what you hoped it would be. Keep striving forwork that really fits the big picture. Aim high. A key to a happy, well-livedlife is to find work you love that allows you financial independence.

Don't settle forever, or for too long, for work you don't love. Youneed to aspire to work that makes you thrive, that you're proud of, thatis a perfect fit to your talents, gifts, and passionate interests. In order touse our energy constructively, we need to pursue work we love. Whenwe love our work, we will sustain true, inner happiness. Work and love,love and work, become one.

When we love our work, we become energized by it, not enervated.Seek and find work that allows you to give your gifts to the universe asyou teach yourself new skills. We shouldn't merely work for a living: weshould work to make a life. Work can be what leads us to help our communityor our world, and to produce something lasting. For a blessedfew, history has shown us, work can bring immortality.

No matter what happens to you, when you love your work, you willmaintain your independence and, therefore, your freedom. As an adult,finding work you love is your responsibility and, I believe, your duty. Ifyou find it, it promises to bring harmony to the rest of your life. We're here to develop our gifts, to share them with others in service. The idealis to find paid work that nourishes you and others. Loving our work isprimary to accomplishing this goal.

Things I Want My Daughters to Know
A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life
. Copyright © by Alexandra Stoddard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Small Book about the Big Issues in Life by Alexandra Stoddard
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