I read a blog post (Single Dad Laughing… look him up… he’s good!) yesterday that gave me an idea for my own post. SDL wrote about the five things he’s learned in his 30-couple years on the planet. Well, I’ve been here 47 years (er, now 50 years) and I’ve learned a few things, too… things like:
How, even if they call them ‘dried plums’ and infuse them with orange flavoring so they taste like candy, they’re still prunes and you should never, ever eat a whole bag in one sitting.
How I’ll never be so old that I won’t glue my fingers together when I use super glue.
How you should never, ever read the comments after any online news article, political or otherwise. Because they will make you lose all faith in and hope for humanity (and good grammar and spelling), that’s why.
Stuff like that. Good stuff, no?
I’ve learned other stuff, too… important stuff (not that the whole prune thing isn’t important. It is. Trust me on that one, people). I thought I’d share some of those things with you today.
So, as Oprah says, here’s what I know for sure…
This, too, shall pass. Nothing lasts forever. It’s true. Good things don’t, though we wish they could. Bad things don’t, though it feels like they do. Life is moving… even when you feel stuck. It’s still going on around you and it’ll take you along for the ride, whether you want to go or not. And that ride? Will be full of knocks and hills, bumps and thrills. Sometimes you’ll want to get off. Sometimes you’ll want to throw up. Sometimes you’ll scream for joy and wish so hard you could stay in that place – in that rush – forever. But you can’t. It will end. Because nothing lasts forever.
Until you learn the lesson, the lesson will keep popping up. Over and over and over. Until you learn it.
Over and over.
Until. You. Learn. It.
And I don’t mean the No Child Left Behind sort of ‘learn it,’ where you simply just have to get it right on the test. I mean ‘learn it,’ where it’s imprinted so deeply on your psyche, you’ll never forget it.
It’s the people around you that make Life worth living. It’s not the accomplishments or the adventures, and it is most certainly not the stuff. And people are great. But they will disappoint you. They will aggravate you, infuriate you, offend you, and make you want to live on a deserted island, far from anyone else on the planet. And you? Will do the same to others. Because you’re a people, too, that’s why. But when you move past the disappointments, the aggravation, the anger, and the frustration, you’re left with the best – the caring, the humor, the camaraderie, the history, the empathy, the partners-in-crime, and the LOVE. And that? Is some good stuff.
You have to be happy on your own before you will ever be happy with anyone else. If you’re unhappy, and then someone comes along and makes you smile and love Life and think the sun shines out his butt, it will feel like that person is making you happy. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (it shrank in the wash). But at some point you will realize that the sun? Shines out no one's butt. And eventually, no matter what that other person says or does, unless you’ve fixed what was making you unhappy in the first place, you’ll be back to that place, with or without them. You have to fix it. You’re the only one who can fix it.
Not everyone is going to like you. And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. And it doesn’t matter how nice you are, how funny, how pretty, or how well you write or sing or make balloon animals. Not everyone is going to like you. Period. And that? Is OK. It really and truly is. So be kind. Be good. Be yourself. Don’t be a dick. And let the chips fall where they may.
Comparing yourself to other people is the most assured way to feel like crap. There will always people who have more than you do; who have accomplished more; who are prettier, thinner, more talented, etc. So stop it. And remember, someone, somewhere, is comparing herself to you… and falling short. Tell her to stop it, too.
Forgiveness is something you do for you, not the person who wronged you. Staying angry and holding onto grudges and hurt only holds you back. It robs you of happiness and peace and personal growth. Forgive. Move on.
Helping someone in need is the quickest way to take your mind off your own troubles. It’s hard to focus on what you don’t have when you’re focused on someone else who has less. And it reminds you to be grateful for what you do have. And gratitude is absolutely, definitely, no-doubt-about-it, one-hundred-percent necessary for happiness.
When you have time to criticize other people, it means you’re not spending enough time working on your own life. Period. So shut up. And look in a mirror. And take care of you.
Life is short. It’s cliché, I know, but it became a cliché for a reason. Because it’s true, that’s why. Life is short. It’s crazy-short. It’s yesterday-I-was-16-and-now-I’m-middle-aged short. It’s I-thought-there-would-be-another-dance-with-my-dad-but-then-he-was-gone short. It’s how-did-my-baby-girl-turn-into-a-teenager-overnight short. It’s short. There will never be enough time to do what you want to do… or maybe even what you need to do… it’s SHORT. Get it? So you can’t waste time. You can’t wait for Life to get its shit together and be what you want it to be. Life isn’t working on your timetable. Life doesn’t care about your timetable. So you have to make it what you want. You have to do stuff – stuff that’s interesting and fun and makes you feel good. Make sure the people you love know you love them. Find your passions and go after them. Find the things you believe in and stand up for them. Get a hobby. Find a job you don’t hate (because spending 8+ hours a day doing work that makes you miserable will suck the life out of you faster than anything) and work hard. Read good books. Be out in nature. Create something. Drink wine or tea or Yoo-hoo if it makes you happy. Do good. Help people or animals or the environment (or all of them).
Make sure that when there’s no more Life left, you’re not sitting on the couch wishing you’d done all those things.
Because life is short.
As my friend Mel says, that’s all I know.