Most of the time people throw advice around irresponsibly. They tell you to, “Buck up,” when you’re down or to, “Get over it,” when you’re in the throes of grief. A lot of times they give you advice about things that they haven’t even learned to do themselves.
I call that being unconscious. All that energy to point out your flaws and make you better, temporarily makes them feel good about themselves. It’s much easier to shift the spotlight on you than to shine the light on their own flaws and misgivings.
Having said that, I can’t completely disregard every single word of advice I’ve be given. A few have been surprisingly helpful, getting me through some tough times.
What wise words changed my life? I’m no Katie Couric, but I’ve wrangled together advice for those who are looking for ways to bring a bit more hope and happiness in their lives. Here they are. Please add your own “best advice” in the comments below.
Learn New Things
In middle school, I had to create a project about myself. It was a 20-page book covered with an origami flower I made and filled with old photos and little tidbits of information about me. It was the perfect project for that stage of life-a great excuse to self-explore without feeling self-absorbed. I learned a lot as I compiled that book. I learned that my grandmother thought I was conscientious. I found out how many pounds I was when I was born-6 (the one time you don’t mind sharing your weight). And one piece of advice that stuck with me since then.
My grandmother said, “Never pass up an opportunity to try new things.” This motivated me to try out for my high school play, join the newspaper staff, transfer to a college out of state, travel to Europe, try belly dancing, parasailing, tai chi, zumba and more. It wasn’t my only motivation to venture out and try new things, but whenever I was on the fence and doubted whether or not I should do something, I couldn’t help but remember what my grandmother said. And I always end up feeling grateful that I followed it.
Make Time to Laugh
My mother’s mother, my other grandmother also taught me an invaluable lesson. While we were laughing at dinner, my grandmother grabbed me and said, “I’m so glad you are here and we are laughing. It’s not good to just have long faces all the time. It’s so good to laugh. We all need to laugh, yeah.” She was in that difficult stage of Alzheimer’s disease where she was beginning to lose her memory, but was coherent enough to know she would inevitably lose it all. Her words taught me how vital laughter is, even in the midst of an insidious disease and a seemingly hopeless future, she reminded us of that. (For more about my grandma’s story, go here.)
A Little Fear is Good
This one came to me in a book. I don’t recall the exact title or quote. But I do remember what it said about fear. Instead of perceiving fear as something that should be avoidable, the book talked about seeing it as an opportunity. Whenever you’re afraid, expect that you’re going to learn something new. I remember that every time I have to give a speech or travel outside of my comfort zone. Instead of wanting to crawl under a rock and hide, it lures out my inner warrior and reconnects me with my sole and soul purpose for being here-to learn, to grow and to fully live my life.
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