In anticipation of my big day on Friday, I'm sharing some random pieces of wisdom gained from years of making mistakes.
Life is a series of choices. Unhappiness and misery are a choice. I deserve all the misery I experienced because I chose it. I also deserve all the good and happiness because that was also my choice. I no longer feel sorry for people who have the intellectual capacity but aren’t proactive in their own situations. I can certainly empathize with them but I don’t sympathize with them.
It’s more important to be happy than to be right. I didn’t consider how detrimental my stubbornness was to my happiness, and how hurtful it was to others. In examining my actions sometimes the things about which I most needed to be right were not really important.
The world is filled with love and happiness and we will find what we’re looking for when we know what we want. This was a difficult concept for me because since early childhood I’d never known real love and happiness. I had no idea what I really wanted and how it was supposed to look and feel. There was no role model to go by. There was no list and no rules to guide me. When I learned to look for the good – I found it.
Every person we meet is a reflection of ourselves. We learn something from them all, and the briefest encounters or the longest relationships provide opportunities for growth. Since I didn’t particularly like a lot of the people I met, it was painful to think they were personal reflections. The most irritating part was that many of the people I disliked kept hanging around. When I finally realized the only way to make them go away was to actually learn the lesson they were here to teach, they gradually started disappearing.
Everything that happens is either from love or from a call for love. All the negative feelings - anger, fear, hatred, envy, etc, - are just a call for love. We can see things differently just by looking at situations and people with unprejudiced eyes. Instead of reacting to the negative feelings with more negativity, if I look at it as a cry for help from that person, it’s easier to tap into the love inside myself and return love to them.
You need to have something that takes you outside yourself - a safe place to go where people don’t care what you do, or how much money you make, or how many mistakes you made in your past. It can be an organization, a sports league, a theater group, a book club, a sewing circle, a hiking or travel group, or you can volunteer. It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets you away from the TV and computer once in a while and creates an opportunity for you to interact with other people.
You have to put yourself out there even if you occasionally make a fool of yourself. And if you do make a fool of yourself don’t internalize it. Laugh along with everyone else. Most people truly want you to succeed. There will always be a few negative, unhappy people who’ll gossip behind your back and make a point of exposing all of your flaws. But most people enjoy sharing in your success. It’s important to just do something.
I learned sometimes you have to take a chance and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
When I screw something up, it’s best to immediately admit it and find a solution.
All my diverse jobs and experiences provided me with a wonderful perspective about what’s important in my working environment. The route I took was filled with potholes – all of which I stepped in - but I don’t regret the journey. Some people are lucky. They know what they want to do in life right away and they pursue it. They find their bliss and follow it even if they have to make sacrifices along the way. The rest of us use the trial and error method. I know people who worked all their lives and were never happy. I learned it’s not easy to give up the security of a job - no matter how bad it is - to follow your bliss, but it can be very fulfilling.
There’s a right exercise for everyone. You have to find what works best for you and stick with it. Eventually, doing it feels so much better than not doing it that it becomes second nature. And, walking from the couch to the refrigerator and back several times a day does not qualify as an exercise routine unless your couch is at least a half mile away from your refrigerator. You don’t have to join a club or buy fancy equipment or exercise tapes or DVD’s to get exercise – you just have to get your butt off the couch and move. It’s important to take care of your body and your health. The older you get, the more things are prone to fall apart, but you can postpone that by taking care of yourself.
Plants can be a lot like the people in your life. They can enhance it, or detract from it. There’s nothing more depressing than a bunch of slug slimy sticks or more beautiful than a bed full of lovely flowers. We can’t be afraid to change our gardens occasionally.
I don’t have a “best” friend anymore, but I have lots of good friends for which I’m very grateful. People come and go. Some stay longer than others, but it’s a natural cycle and when one person leaves another comes in to fill the void. I no longer get upset or melancholy when I lose touch with an old friend. I’m just thankful I had them in my life at all and know I’m all the richer for having enjoyed their presence.
Being part of a family is important, even if it’s not the one into which you are born.
Sometimes the families you develop with others based on common beliefs, interests or activities can better provide you with things you need to nourish and sustain yourself. Learning to be thankful for friends and families you choose to have in your life is a mutually beneficial experience and well worth the effort. Friends are very important. They fill the spaces of your heart and keep you from taking yourself too seriously.
People may not do things the way I think they should but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. There’s usually more than one way to accomplish goals. The roads taken may not always be the straightest and most efficient routes to the destination, but sometimes the scenery is just as good or better by straying from the interstate.
And some common sense - My old VW convertible had a black interior. When I lived in Las Vegas, I learned black is not a good interior color in the desert heat. With the windows cracked open, the ever present sun shields in place and a white towel draped across the steering wheel, you could still roast a turkey in the interior of your car on a summer’s day.