28 Lessons on Working Happy From My Icelandic Mother

My mother is an amazing woman. Almost everyone says that about their own mother. I guess that’s why we have “Mother’s Day.”

To shine a little light on them.

My mother was a part-time accountant (for my father’s electrical business), counselor, homemaker, retailer, coach, and artist. She did a little of everything and basically kept our house together.

I was a mama’s boy. Growing up I always turned to my mom when I needed advice, so her work habits rubbed off on me.

Here are my 28 Lessons on Working Happy from My Icelandic Mother:

  1. Make other people laugh; it feels good.
  2. Be honest and you will have nothing to hide.
  3. Ask people what they need; you’ll actually help them.
  4. Chip away at a project every single day and you will succeed.
  5. Don’t settle for second best. (If she knew all I could manage was a C in a certain course that was ok, but if I got a B and should have earned an A, she wouldn’t accept it.)
  6. Be yourself, even if it means someone else doesn’t like you.
  7. Talk to everyone; you’ll learn something from each person.
  8. Listening is more important than speaking.
  9. Share your pain, but try to leave on a positive note.
  10. Keep trying new angles until you feel good about the finished project.
  11. Sleep is nice, but it’s not the most important part of life.
  12. Who you spend time with is a reflection of who you are. (Pick your friends wisely because they will dictate your success)
  13. Share your intelligence.
  14. Organizing your mind will encourage you to organize your workspace.
  15. Don’t beat yourself up for a mistake that was probably meant to teach you a lesson.
  16. Guests may be coming soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun preparing the food.
  17. You have to put in the time to get to where you want to be. (Short cuts means something was missed)
  18. Don’t try to be normal because we are all weird. (Your weirdness is what people remember)
  19. Say “no” when necessary.
  20. Learn to do it yourself so you can teach someone else to help you.
  21. Lunch breaks, when done right, can recharge the battery.
  22. You can’t control everything, so learn to steer the ship instead of tug it.
  23. Use your mind, not your back.
  24. Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise if you deserve it.
  25. Get to know the people you work with; they will help you grow.
  26. Anger only makes the situation worse; let it go then make your choice.
  27. Don’t hang out with cool people, hang out with interesting people.
  28. Push people to their edge then pull back before anyone gets hurt. (I pushed my mom to the edge, but she was always the one steering the ship)


What have you learned from your mother?


Barbara over at Blogging Without a Blog always gives me a fresh perspective on building a community on my blog.


If you are crunched for time, but still need work happiness in your life then follow me on Twitter – @workhappynow.


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16 thoughts on “28 Lessons on Working Happy From My Icelandic Mother”

  1. Stephen - Rat Race Trap

    Great list from an obviously beautiful mother. She is very wise!

  2. Your mom taught you some great lessons, thanks for sharing them.

    I particularly like #15: “Don’t beat yourself up for a mistake that was probably meant to teach you a lesson.” It’s so very wise. I’ve put it on a sticky note to remind me everyday. (I make a lot of mistakes…)

  3. Hi Stephen, very wise indeed.

    Hi Peter, 18 is one of my favorites too.

    Hi Laurie, we all make a lot of mistakes.

    Hi Nathan, my mother is a very inspiring woman, like most mothers. My mom has her faults too, but she also has so many positives that you barely notice the negatives.

  4. I love the fact you shared your Mother’s lessons with the world.

    I wrote up lessons from my Mom and Dad, but never posted them. I should hunt them down and share them.

  5. Very insightful post! One thing I learned from my mom is that I work and do things for myself–not to please others. Don’t do a job, take a position, or do anything else just because you think it will please people especially if it means you’re gonna be unhappy.

  6. I love that picture and these are certainly great lessons. I didn’t realize all I learned from my mother until I was an adult. I learned a lot about love, that’s for sure!

    I too, love #18. It’s what allows us each to bring a special something to the table.

  7. Like me, you have been blessed with a very wise mom. Thank you for sharing these gems!


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  9. Such a great list Karl! I guess I’m short on people that credit their mother with the good things in their life. I’m still part of the group that blames their parents for most things.

    I’m the mother of three boys and I hope someday they compose a big list of wonderful things that they learned from me. I like to be intentional in my parenting. Number would be number one on my list, if you simply tell the truth, you can live in freedom. Lies are toxic and ruin lives. I only want my boys to live in freedom.

    Your mom has done an incredible job, how blessed you’ve obviously been. Her work has paid off,you are now sharing wisdom and loving people out in the world. We could use a whole lot more like you!

  10. Hi Karl,

    Mom’s are simply the best, aren’t they. Even though I lost mine years ago, the lessons I learned from her remain with me.

    The lessons your mother taught you are all fabulous. You’re love for your mom shines through and I’m guessing she’s awfully proud of you, Karl.

    BTW: Thank you for the mention.

  11. What a beautiful post–and a sweet tribute to your Mother. 🙂 I learned way too much from my Mom to share in a comment, but to sum it up I’ll share a quote directly from her:

    Keep your money and spend yourself.–Deborah J. Tune

    She lives those very words each and every day and I continue to learn from her…


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