I’ve spent a big part of my life reflecting.
Whether it’s been about life, people, situations, news, or politics, I love when things get my brain thinking and churning. I’m much like my youngest son who has an inquisitive and curious mind. I’ve always wanted to know the “whys.”
But what I’ve learned about life is that sometimes there just aren’t any answers, and it used to devastate me and make me feel helpless. Questions like,”Why did my niece have a brain tumor when she was fifteen?”,”Why did my dad have to have a major and debilitating stroke at the age of 54?”, “Why did my birth parent’s abandon me when I was a small child?”, or “Why did my good friend have to die of cancer?” There have been many questions in my life and I’ve just had to learn to let it all go and accept that sometimes there isn’t a good answer.
The alternative option of holding onto it was giving me health issues, filling me with depression, and causing a great deal of anxiety. But when I finally was able to embrace the unknown, I found that I was more at peace with myself and able to accept that for no good reason, life just sucks sometimes. It’s then up to us to figure out how to move on.
I guess that I would categorize myself as a “Student-of-Life,” ever-changing, ever-willing to learn something new, look in the mirror, and have an open mind. With a long career in management and working with people, I’ve also learned how to be a mentor and teacher at the same time. But while I’ve gained experience and knowledge, I don’t think the path of knowledge can ever be complete. The excitement that I get from learning new things and gaining new insights just never gets old.
Part of my learning has involved reading a lot about life lessons. Erma Bombeck’s “If I had to Live My Life Over” is wise and beautiful and I absolutely love it. http://www.kalimunro.com/If_I_Had_My_Life_To_Live_Over.html
42 Life Lessons by Regina Brett is also incredibly thought-provoking and honest. http://unbridledfreedom.com/42-life-lessons-by-regina-brett/
I’m not as prolific, wise, or celebrated as either of those two beautiful women, but along the way I’ve picked up some observations of my own.
- Be Kind. It’s a simple playground truth but not one that many people remember. The funny thing is, it’s not that difficult. Hold the door open for someone, use “Please” and “Thank you” every single time, give someone an unexpected compliment, say something genuinely nice to someone for no reason at all and don’t expect it in return. Be kind simply for the sake of doing it and because you can.
- Stick up for Yourself. Don’t let people walk all over you and don’t allow people to treat you poorly. People will treat you the way you allow them to and you should only expect the best. Have courage and don’t be afraid to tell someone that the way they are treating you is unacceptable and be willing to walk away from them if they don’t get it. Sometimes they’ll come back and sometimes they won’t, but if they can’t treat you well, then do you want them in your life to begin with?
- Laugh at yourself. A lot. Life is short and you’re not perfect. Having a sense of humor about yourself is important and healthy, as long as you’re not being mean about yourself. Often we are our own worse critic but love yourself and don’t take your flaws too seriously. Everyone has them.
- Don’t ever put things before people. I’ve spent time with people I’ve loved who were sick or dying and they’ve never said to me,”I wish I’d had more stuff.” Ever. They’d always wished they had more time with the people they loved. Period.
- It’s not always about YOU. We all like to imagine that the world revolves around us, but… it doesn’t! Sometimes people are on their own journey and are suffering, fighting, divorcing, struggling, sometimes they are sick, or hurt, or angry about something that has nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that it does! We are a world full of narcissists who think that everything is about us when it has nothing to do with us! Sometimes you’re the main character and sometimes your just a footnote and it’s important to be able to identify which one you are and when.
- Be willing to walk away. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Some are and some aren’t. Some relationships teach us how to be better and some don’t teach us anything at all. Not every person we ever meet is meant to be in our lives for the duration of our lives, but they’re meant to be there for some of it. While letting go is incredibly painful and feels downright impossible, sometimes we don’t have a choice or we need to because the relationship hurts us more than it does anything else for us. The people that love us often hurt us the most and the worst. But that’s because they are fighting their own demons and that is something they have to do alone. All we can do is love them, but loving them doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves. This means we may have to step away from them in order to survive, whether it’s temporarily or permanently.
- Laugh at fart jokes. This is different obviously than laughing at yourself, but when children hear fart jokes they laugh, out loud, big hearty belly laughs that are honest and true. When we grow up, we don’t laugh at such things anymore, but I think that if we just let ourselves laugh at silly things like fart jokes and we can remember what its like to laugh when we were kids, we would be so much happier. My kids will genuinely laugh every single time at the word “balls” and when they do, it’s impossible not to laugh with them. Life is too short not to find humor in silly things.
- Be surprised. Let yourself live a life where you can still be surprised. And even if you’re not, pretend that you are. People love surprises and love to surprise others. The joy we give and receive from life’s little surprises is something that just can’t be replaced.
- Listen more than talk. When you listen to your children with all of your attention you’ll notice that when they are talking they’re smiling the entire time (up until a certain age). When you listen well, you’re giving someone the gift of your love and attention which has more value than anything else you can give them.
My list isn’t that long and it’s not complete. I’ve learned so much but have so much more to learn. I love that life is such a beautiful maze of truth and understanding and that everyone gets there a completely different way. And I love that I’ll never get past Life 101 because life is ever-evolving and ever-changing. I love listening to and learning from other people. One of my favorite people to sit and listen to was my GiGi. She would’ve been 100 this year and when she was alive she told the best stories and was such a pleasure to talk to. I’ve thought about her so many times throughout the years and wished I could talk to her and learn from her kindness and experience and I’m always reminded of how much more there is still left to learn.
What have you learned throughout your lifetime? What have you lost and gained? What would you share with the world from your experience if you could? I’d be interested to see your comments here.