Life has a way of teaching you things you need to know, whether you like it or not. Here are 12 things I didn’t know I needed to know, that have made my life better.
1. Share a gratitude practice: A daily gratitude practice doesn’t make the ugly you’re slogging through prettier, but it does help maintain perspective on life. I’ve had a reminder in my phone for gratitude twice a day over the last couple years that I share with my family at breakfast and dinner. When I forget what I’m grateful for, you can be certain that my kids do one hell of a job reminding me.
2. Self-expression is an art every person in a relationship must master: The easiest path is rarely the one that brings the biggest rewards but it’s the one we’re most often tempted to take. I am learning this in my relationship over and over again. Walking away would be easiest, sitting down and talking about the things that bug you and me is much harder, and so much more rewarding.
3. People will judge you based on who they are, not on who you are: It doesn’t hurt any less. The more you care about them the more their judgment hurts. People will often see only their shortcomings and compare them to your strengths then blame you for who you are. Remember that it’s their problem not yours.
4. Embrace the pain of failure, it keeps you moving forward: All that talk about failure being a good thing is wonderful but failure bloody hurts. Before you can love the failure you gotta feel the pain. Give yourself time. Wallow in it. Then build yourself another layer of tough skin and move on.
5. Be patient with yourself and your ideas: Good ideas are like fine cheese. They need time to mature and ripen before you can bust them open alongside a glass of red. Give your ideas some space but visit them often, check up on them, wrap them up, love them and trust them. You will know when they’re ready.
6. Put humanity before vanity every time: Don’t be afraid to walk away from a seemingly great opportunity if the people involved are are not aligned with your values. People are key to any project or effort and if they don’t jive with who you are, they can sour even the best intentions. Trust yourself and bet on humanity over than vanity. A tight team can make it through hell but a flimsy team won’t make it out of a thimble.
7. Choose creativity over consumption: When you feel the throbbing wound of emptiness that media and society love to stick their fingers in, don’t open the doors wide open and fling fistfuls of dollars at the first makeup/heavy machinery/fashion/shoe store in sight. Commit to a creative practice that will allow you to create and express yourself rather than fleece your soul. Creativity is therapy!
8. Your setbacks are your teachers: We all have them but some of us let them take us down. If you think of life as your lab and yourself the scientist, this implicitly means some experiments will work and some won’t. Your number one question in either case should be: What do I need to be learning from this?
9. Use hope and optimism as your secret weapon: Many people like to call themselves realists. In truth, they’re people without hope. Expecting good things is a skill that can help you recognize opportunities knocking and give you courage to open doors. If you’re optimistic, you’re already at an advantage. Hopeful people dare more, try more things and bounce back from setbacks faster. Hope is a shield against global negativity, use it!
10. Don’t be scared to set the bar high, and forgive yourself for not making it: In between hustle-like-hell and see-what-happens, in between the setting goals and the missing completely, a whole world of possibility opens up and you’re right there for the learning, the living and the adventure. Be audacious!
11. When life is bringing you down, take action: Life doesn’t work on stagnation, it works on motion. The wind blows, rivers flow, trees grow, blood circulates, creatures breathe. In stagnant waters, bacteria thrives. If your comfort zone has got you in its grasp, break free, whatever the cost, and take one tiny step. Simply surviving is no longer enough. Stir those waters and get moving.
12. Take care of those who love you: Without them you are nothing. The people who love you are the source of your power. Give them time and attention, listen to them, see them, love them, value them, guard them well. Without love and connection, all the money, accomplishments, credentials and ranks are meaningless. It’s people that make us matter.
What big learning has life laid in your lap lately?