One Way to Boost Happiness: Connect with Your Past.

Gretchen and Justice O’Connor a few months prior in NYC

Last weekend, I went to Washington, D.C., to attend the reunion of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s clerks.

This event made me happy for many reasons. I was thrilled to see Justice O’Connor. I loved catching up with many old friends and acquaintances. I enjoyed walking around the halls of the Supreme Court building.

And the entire weekend reminded me of the usefulness of my resolution to Stay connected to my past.

I have a terrible memory of my own past. I can barely remember my childhood. I have few memories from college and law school–though once I got married I got the advantage of being able to consult my husband’s memory. Many of my resolutions–like Keep a one-sentence journal or Keep photos or Take tourist photos of my own life–are aimed at helping me remember my own past.

Because I’m not a lawyer anymore, it’s especially easy for me to lose touch with my lawyer past. My husband and I met in law school–you can see photo highlights here–but he’s not a lawyer anymore, either.  Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we’re not practicing law any more. Once a lawyer, always a lawyer.

I like being back in that environment, to get to listen to law talk and hang out with lawyer friends. It makes me feel more connected to my past, which makes me feel more rooted, more – coherent.

Whenever I’m trying to decide how to spend my precious time, energy, or money, I ask myself a series of questions. “Will this broaden or deepen my relationships?” “Will this contribute to an atmosphere of growth in my life?” “Is this a way to ‘Be Gretchen?’“  and “Will this help connect me to my past?

How about you? Do you take steps to try to stay connected to your past? Do you worry about losing touch with some part of your past?

I write a lot about the importance of keeping memories strong throughout Happier at Home.


  • Justice O’Connor is involved in an overwhelming number of activities, one of which is the fabulous program, iCivics, which provides free, innovative materials–like video games–to teach children civics. Check it out!
  • Want more information about Happier at Home? I love all my books equally, but it’s true that my sister says it’s my best book. Here’s a smorgasbord of options:
    — read a sample chapter on the subject of “time”

    — watch the one-minute book trailer, “Ten ways to be happier at home”

    — request the one-page book club discussion guide

    — read the Behind-the-Scenes extra (I had a great time writing this)