Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

My experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits


Fill in the Blank: X Is a Good Servant But a Bad Master

January 7th, 2015

Episode 16 of 376 episodes

I love to collect variations on phrases, such as the “X is the new Y.” “Orange is the new black,” “Breakfast is the new lunch,” “Forties are the new thirties,” “Halloween is the new Christmas,” or–and I was inspired by this one for Happier at Home–“September is the new January.” (I started this happiness project in September, instead of January, because September also seems like a good time for a fresh start.) I came up with my own fill-in-the-blank phrase, “___ is a good servant but a bad master.” I’ve been thinking about different ways to fill in that blank. Because I’ve been writing and thinking about habits for so long, to write Better Than Before, my first answer is, no surprise, habit. And indeed, habit is a good servant but a bad master. A very, very good servant, and a very, very bad master. Other possibilities… Money Technology (or Facebook, Twitter, email…) Alcohol Punctuality Caffeine Television Anger Food Ambition Planning The flesh Ego Leisure Productivity What would you add? I don’t know why I get such a big kick out of lists like this, but I do.

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