Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living
November 16, 2015
Jason Gay offers us simple rules to live by, the most important of which is to celebrate the "little victories" in everyday life.
You may have been passed a Wall Street Journal article on the rules of Thanksgiving family touch football at this time of year in recent years. If so, you have Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay to thank. And the articles that spawned that series provides the basis of his new book, Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living
The larger theme of the book is that we must appreciate the "little victories" in life, and focus on "creating smaller, perfect moments" that bring up relief and happiness from the overall stresses and responsibilities of life. Gay largely frames this around his own realization, upon becoming a father, that parenting is largely a surrendering of control over your life, of letting go of any "preexisting arrangement." And "Abandoning this expectation" he says, "can be the greatest liberation of your life." It is partly tongue-in-cheek, yet at the same time perfectly profound, and that is largely where the whole book lies—in that interesting intersection between absurdity and meaning, profundity and playfulness.
I'll let him explain:
The advice in this book is both practical and ridiculous. It is neither perfect nor universal. A few years back I began writing advice "Rules" columns for the Wall Street Journal—Rules of Thanksgiving Family Touch Football, Rules of the Gym, Rules of the Office Holiday Party. The idea was to make a little fun of the Cult of Advice, the absurd surety of know-it-all experts and, of course, our blossoming era of inane Internet lists (29 WAYS TO WATCH A SUNSET WITH YOUR PONY!). Ours is a culture that is always telling people what to do, but what do we really know? We're all still learning. Everyone's flawed. Everybody drops their ice cream on the floor, hopes nobody saw it, picks it up, and eats it. Please tell me that's not just me.
It is not just him. My mother, to this day, is still scandalized by the memory of me doing just that as a boy at our hometown McDonald's.
For those of you that recently won Ross McCammon's Works Well with Others, you will find a kindred read. Both authors are from the magazine world, move fast from one topic to another, have a familiar writing style that makes it feel like friends talking to you, and contain entertaining, yet practical and pithy advice. And, of course, both are hilarious.
Jason Gay's Advice ranges from how to construct a wedding playlist and appreciate children's music, how to approach athletics as a parent and a fan, how and when to travel (and how to pack snacks), why to marry and how to keep it going, how to handle getting fired, and how to act at a holiday party, how to work out, how to deal with illness. and why you should stop trying to be cool—which is my favorite advice, other than that reminding us that "Your phone is not you" that echoes Reclaiming Conversation.
Technology is rushing to reduce the routine of everyday human contact, the assumption that human contact is, you know, a pain. Anything that verges on a person-to-person experience is now considered extraneous, worthy of streamlining, if not total elimination. ... Still, I think the biggest hazard of technology is how it is pulling away from the present.
I find this the most troubling aspect of our relationship to technology, that rather than truly connecting us to others, it has disconnected us from our surroundings at both home and work. We are less able to immerse ourselves fully in our experience because we're so immersed in our devices. Rather than living our lives, we are documenting them. Rather than really being busy about the business of our lives or finding fleeting bits of happiness when we can, and constructing more, we are fabricating them for our phone lives.
But that is my own rant. Jason Gay's rules are filled with more joy, less judgement, and more laughs.
We have 20 copies available.