Notes For My Younger Self

Life does not come with an owners manual or instruction booklet. We figure it out and hopefully have people to love and teach us. But most of it, trial and error.

If you could pass lessons and revelations through time, back to your younger self, what would you say?  Eat healthier, make better decisions, laugh more often, etc.  Those are a given.  Drilling down a bit, what had you learned from age or from experience that you wish you had realized in your youth?

Here are a few of my own, plus a YouTube video I put together, using myself as the student.

Be creative – We are all curious and we thrive when we learn.  We are good at different things, and creativity is a way of expressing ourselves and feeling good.  Being creative allows us to see possibilities, to link a vision to our skills, whatever they are.  Painting, writing, playing music, making jewelry, carpentry, gardening, find something that allows your the ability to create your vision.

Learn to handle grief – Loss, disappointment and failure are situations we hope to avoid, but some are unavoidable in life.  We deal with them, but not always healthily or positively.  We can ignore, internalize, withdraw and become bitter.  Doing so, our life will carry that forward, and the next event will compound that inability to process and emerge from each situation.  Worse, we do not help our children to understand and deal with grief or disappointment.

Be humble, laugh at yourself – Humility is the ability to be relaxed with yourself.  People are attracted to those who are humble, let down their guard and understand their faults.  Humble makes you human.  Let the starch out of your shirt.

Share your knowledge – We are creatures that learn, and successful people are lifelong learners.  We never know everything, but we always know things that are helpful to others.  We sometimes learn by our own trial and error, but more often we learn from others, and we all have skills and competencies that we can pass along to others.  Teaching helps us pass along our legacy, and it feels good.

Worry will shorten your life – Medical evidence shows that stress leads to heart attacks, loss of sleep, self medication and other bad things.  Some of us are worriers by design.  We internalize things, want to plan things out in our minds, feel great responsibility, don’t want to fail, etc.  Worry is an unhealthy emotion, like an engine idling too fast, or an electrical appliance drawing too much power.  Finding a way to reroute that emotional energy along with better coping skills can downshift your mind and ease the stress on your physical health.

Volunteer – Give something back, help shoulder the burden.  We’re all busy with our lives but choose to contribute to your community. Not everything in society is provided by the government or the private sector at a cost.  There are things each of us can, and should do, to make this a better place to live, to help children succeed, to care for others and to utilize those religious/spiritual values we boast about.

Education – Is the answer to living a better life. Learning never stops. Not all learning happens in a classroom, but if you want others to recognize it, get the degree or certificate. Then get busy learning from those with life experience and knowledge. Questions are fine but remember, close mouth, use your ears and engage brain. Humility applies to learning too.

Christian Behavior – America is a mix of different faiths, but it is largely Christian.  Whatever faith you belong to, working at it one day of the week is not sufficient, there are seven days in a week and displaying those values each day is important. You don’t get a pass for the one day you are at your place of worship, and behave in contrast to those values the rest of the week.  We can all work harder at displaying our unique religious, humanistic or spiritual values.  I am not a religious person but my faith and values align with service, respect and valuing all people.  Those who twist the words of their faith or belief into justifying hate, discrimination or war are not friends of mine.

Fight Evil – Evil proliferates because of fear and silence. Evil is a bully that makes people feel powerless. You aren’t. Each of us has a voice and can act. There are countless examples of evil overpowering good, silent people. It’s up to each one of us to step up. Anne Frank lived in fear, but found a way to persevere in dark times. It is her young girl’s spirit that is a source of strength for others.

Each of us have our own list of life lessons. Most were hard earned.  They are earned for a reason, because we didn’t realize the value until we figured it out for ourselves.

View the rest in the video below.

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