I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. ~Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President
By the time a person is thirty, he or she should have learned a few life lessons.
Some, we gain the hard way, by experiencing the consequences of not living as we should. Others, we glean from the folly of friends or family.
Here are ten lessons I wish my thirty-year-old self had embraced:
1) We’re more alike than we are different.
Why do we spend so much time with people who are just like us, when those who are different have so much to teach us? Since God could have made us all the same (robots, I guess), and didn’t, there must have been a good reason. Perhaps so we could develop tolerance, respect, and understanding?
2) It’s not all about you.
Some parents dote on their kids. Too much doting can turn a child into a spoiled, self-centered individual who’s convinced the sun revolves around him. And when he learns it doesn’t, it’s a rude awakening. Probably better to learn that lesson early, rather than later.
3) Nobody on his death bed ever said, “Gee, I wish I’d spent more time at work.”
Work is good. Admirable, even. And necessary, both for our livelihood and self-esteem. But knowing when to break off for the day and turn our attention to family and relaxation is crucial.
4) Life is too short for petty arguments.
Okay, tell me this. Was it worth all the hard feelings and angst for you to give somebody you love a piece of your mind? Sure, nobody wants to be a doormat, but sometimes, in the higher goal of peace, you need to let some things slide. As the nuns told us, “Offer it up.”
5) Travel light, preferably with a buddy (maybe one with fur).
We don’t really need all the things we claim we do. How many shoes can you wear in one season? Does the thought of having to pack up all your stuff for a move make you break out in hives? Then probably, you’ve got too much stuff. And since there are lots of folks who don’t have stuff, you could donate some of it to charity. Except the dog or cat, of course. They’re family!
6) Unless it’s your last meal, you really don’t have to gorge.
We’re all on diets. We eat way more than we should. And some of our food is loaded with hormones, making it easy for us to pack on the pounds. Doctors tell us obesity is one cause of many diseases. So try to back away from the table before you’re full.
7) Learn something new every day.
Our education doesn’t stop when we graduate. Read a book. Take a class. Watch an instructional video. Talk to somebody who knows something you don’t. Learn a hobby. Stay open to knowledge wherever you can find it.
8) Get up and get moving. Your body wasn’t designed to sit all day.
My dad used to say, “Use it, or lose it.” No, you don’t have to run a marathon (unless that’s your thing), but you should exert yourself physically for at least a half-hour every day. Walking, swimming, playing golf, gardening, yoga, whatever. Just start moving and see how much better you feel … and how much better you sleep at night.
9) Don’t invest everything in things. Acquire a system of beliefs.
Money and possessions don’t fulfill us. Jobs evaporate, houses and furniture go up in smoke, cars get totaled. Humans crave something more. A sense of awe, of the divine — whether that be religion or communing in nature — can satisfy our souls.
10) Give back when you can.
Teach a class. Donate to the needy. Volunteer to plant flowers or deliver meals to shut-ins. Sing in your community choir. Give blood. Read to little kids. You get the idea. And not just during the holidays either!
There, I’ll stop. I expect all of you could write a similar list, so why don’t you?? Let’s make today a day when we can all feel good by helping others.