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Why you should live life by the "extra minute" rule

Publisher, editor-in-chief and author at Chicken Soup for the Soul.

My father-in-law Bill passed away a few weeks ago. He did it the way he wanted: at home, surrounded by family, with no medical intervention. At his funeral, we talked about how he was known for saying, "Take the extra minute to do the job right."

He must have been doing something right, since he lived to 91 and was sharp as a tack right to the end.

Bill was the child of immigrants and his mother started the first Lebanese restaurant in America after her husband abandoned her and their four children. Bill didn't get to go to college. Instead, he got his higher education in the Army during World War II. He worked hard after the war and built a thriving wine import business, a true immigrant success story. He also had four children, just like his dad, but far from abandoning them, he was home for dinner every night... and he made sure his kids heard the "take the extra minute" rule over and over again.

I must have been destined to be a part of this family, which I married into 14 years ago, because I have always lived by the "extra minute" rule too. When my children were young, and prone to all kinds of mishaps, I lived and breathed the rule, so that I could avoid saying sentences that started with "if only." I did what I could to avoid those moments, whether it meant moving a cup of hot coffee away from the edge of a counter, or something that required a little more work such as taping padding onto the sharp corners of a glass coffee table.

The famous Elizabethan judge Edward Coke said, "Precaution is better than cure." I wholeheartedly agree. It only takes a few seconds to make sure that every passenger in my car has put on a seatbelt. It only takes a few seconds to unplug the iron when I leave the laundry room for "just a minute."

It only takes a little extra time to properly bag my two-week-old fireplace ashes on garbage collection day, and then, being paranoid about them, put the bag 20 feet away from the house in the middle of the driveway. I constantly take the extra minute to check my facts, look up an address again, make sure I didn’t leave something in a hotel room, make sure I locked a door.

My life is more serene because of the "take the extra minute" rule. I enjoy peace of mind. And I end up accomplishing more, because, over time, I get back all those extra minutes by having done the job right the first time.

Read another story about life rules in "Everyday Miracles" from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness.

Photo credit: Thanasis Zovoilis/Moment/Getty Images
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