Favorite Stories from the Life Admin Lecture Circuit #37

Shutterstock / Vector / Id 412086898
Source: Shutterstock / Vector / Id 412086898

Yesterday, after I gave a talk about life admin, I had the kind of conversation that makes me happy I wrote the book that led me to that event.

The conversation went something like this.

A man, we’ll call him George, said that he’d found my talk really helpful.

I nodded appreciatively. “I’m glad to hear it.”

George continued. “My sister and I take care of a lot of things for my father. And my sister will say, ‘Can you make that call?’” 

To a doctor or caregiver, I surmised. Or a landlord or accountant or hospital or insurance company or retirement home administrator. Or some other character from the vast cast of personnel involved in aging-parents admin.

“And,” George went on, “I usually say, ‘can’t you just make the call?’”

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay
Source: Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

He paused here, thoughtful. Then concluded with a sentence that sums up the way life admin brings together the minute and the existential.

“Now I realize: That’s 15 minutes of her life.”

His words made my day.

I don’t know what will happen next for George and his sister. Will he talk to her about this? Will he agree to make the call next time? Will he start doing more of the shared admin for their father (their "dadmin"), or offer to do some other part of the caregiving instead, to balance out the now-less-invisible admin his sister does? 

At the very least, I imagine he will say thanks. Gratitude, as we know from the studies, is good for the giver and the receiver.

And his “thank you” will mean something else: All that labor his sister is doing will, no longer, go unseen.

When we see life admin, we begin to see our loved ones better
Blog to Post to: 
Life Admin
Teaser Text: 
So many people have been telling me beautiful stories about recognizing the invisible labor their loved ones have been doing—like for the aging parents they share, as in this story
Teaser Image: 
Mature Audiences Only: 
Content Topics: 
Display on News: 
Approved for Facebook Instant Articles: 

Emmons, Robert A., & McCullough, Michael E. (2003). "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 84(2): 377-389.

Barbara Frederickson, Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life (New York: Three Rivers, 2009), 41–42, 92–93, 186–87.

Melanie Greenberg, “How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life,” Psychology Today blog, Nov. 22, 2015.

Robert A. Emmons, The Little Book of Gratitude (Gaia, 2016).

QScore Date: 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s