Recent graduates of high school or college or anyone who finds themselves languishing at life in general — no matter how old or experienced they are — may find guidance in the following words. They are simply pearls of wisdom I’ve garnered over my 52 years on the planet.
The world owes you nothing. Eliminating this expectation will mean anything you get is a bonus.
No matter how crappy your parents were or still are, you are responsible for yourself now, so fix your issues and get on with a happy life. Many people are flawed as a result of their upbringing. That’s not your fault. Staying flawed is.
A fair number of the people I encounter are what I call “the walking wounded.” Maybe they’ve been abused, neglected, heartbroken or abandoned. Wounded people often struggle to find their footing in the world and may end up a drug addict, serial dater, liar, cesspool of negativity, or bully. Muster all the compassion you can and send it their way.
No matter how mean your friends, family, relatives or enemies are, don’t expect an apology or them to change. People exhibiting bad behavior have often lost touch with their true selves and you’re just the unfortunate recipient. Consider how you also contributed to the relationship because…
...you have a part in 99 percent of all interactions. Knowing your part allows you to clearly make changes to your behavior and future interactions and altercations.
Be accountable for your actions. I can’t say this enough. If you screw up, take responsibility. Then change it so it doesn’t happen again. Don’t merely apologize for the screw up then keep doing it. That’s called an empty apology. You will run into many people who never learned accountability. Don’t be them.
Live from a foundation of solid values. Have integrity. Tell the truth. Be loyal. Be trustworthy. Cultivate strong morals. Don’t worry about voicing the unpopular opinion or making a morally sound choice. Exercise these values always, not just when convenient.
You’ve heard the phrase, “To thine own self be true?” Know your true self, own it and always do what’s best for you. It’s almost impossible to go wrong when you follow your own true North.
Don’t waste time wondering if people like you. What you think and what you know are two different things. But if you are right about someone not liking you, then you are better off not worrying about it. It’s their loss. Also, stop worrying what people think of you.
Stop believing all the nonsense you create with your brain. People frequently make up information in the absence of proof or truth. This is normal, but don’t buy into it because it’s not real. We are incredibly unclear on the reality of others, and sometimes, ourselves.
Don’t take things personally.
Be straightforward. This is so much easier than being unclear and hoping someone will clue in to what you really want or need. Is your friend’s dog bothering you? Say so. Does your grandmother still bake you apple pies when you no longer eat wheat? Tell her and nicely ask her to stop. Does your partner clutter up a particular room and it drives you crazy? Discuss how to resolve it.
Stop being accommodating at the expense of yourself. And for heaven’s sake, stop saying yes when you mean no. It’s fine to say no and you don’t need to explain why, either.
Use the exceptional brain you were born with. You will need it often, and to use it well. Think before you act. Gather all the facts so you can be analytical in your approach. Thoughtfully consider your options. Make good decisions. If you make a poor decision, simply make a new one.
Be polite in all ways. Speak softly. Say please, thank you and you’re welcome. Greet people. Bring hostess gifts. Don’t talk during the movie. Don’t text while in conversation with others. Be attentive in conversation — don’t monopolize it and also listen. Be chivalrous. Act from grace. If you borrow something, return it. If you’re visiting someone, be considerate.
Be neat and organized. Your life will be so much easier if you take the time to do these two things.
Embrace your health. No one tells you this, but it’s all downhill after you’re 18. That awesome metabolism you have? That ability to get up and do anything athletic without preparing? The body that doesn’t break, tear or have lumps? Let’s just say we are blessed in our youth with perfection but it begins to erode once we’ve hit that adult phase. Embrace activity — try and do it every day. Eat well, most of the time.
Life is yours. Make the most of it by being the best version of you. And go for your dreams!
This column appeared in The Journal on Sunday, June 12, 2016.
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