This past Saturday was my birthday, and while I don’t generally do a “Birthday Post,” the milestone of 35 years on this planet seems like a good time for a few reflections! Here is some wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, use it as you see fit:
A lesson taught to me by my mother, this advice keeps standing up to the test of time. It means that if you’re sweet and kind to others, it benefits you (and them) far more than being sour and bitter. While it may be true that, at times, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” (meaning that complaining enough will get you what you want), I’ve found not only does complaining eventually lead to a negative life, it also never ends up getting as much back long-term. You might get a temporary boost from squeaking, but treating others with kindness and grace is more pleasant and provides far better results in the end. Honey really is the way to go.
2) Arguing just doesn’t do much for anyone.
There’s a gap between arguing for the sake of being right and trying to help someone improve their life. In today’s world, a lot of folks have forgotten such a chasm exists. I’ve fallen into this trap as well. Sometimes we think that we’re doing “the right thing” by arguing with people. They need to know how wrong they are! And yet… rarely does it help us or them. Usually it just leads to a bunch of angry people. There are far better ways to approach differences. Arguing is a festering hole that we can either climb out of or keep digging deeper until it caves in on us.
3) Asking “Why” of yourself and your actions leads to rich, deep places.
A great creative practice that also pays dividends in “real life” is the art of asking Why. Many times we do things a certain way without every giving deeper thought into our true goals. Sometimes that way works, so we don’t question if it could be better. By asking “why” and then asking it again (and again, and again) we can reach a deeper understanding of why we do things, or what has meaning vs. what does not. We can also see if our actions are truly helping our underlying goals or if a course correction needs to be implemented.
This can be a tricky idea to wrap your head around, so in the comings weeks I’m hoping to do a full blog post about it with more detail.
4) The more I know, the more I don’t know.
The more I read, the more I find ideas that were previously foreign to me. The more I interact with others, the more I find opinions I had never considered before. The longer I live, the more I truly grasp how epic and vast this universe (let alone any potential others!) is.
I don’t know a lot. I don’t know far more than I do know, and the things I was once relatively sure of sometimes don’t hold true in the long run. The knowledge of this fact helps keep me humble (something I struggle with at times) and reminds me that even though I’m confident in a number of things about life and existence, it could be all wrong. I could be a computer simulation and not know it. I might be dreaming, and reality will only be found when I wake up. I may have lived a thousand lifetimes before this one which I don’t remember here and now. A near infinite other possibilities exist beyond what I take for granted as experienced by my limited human body and brain.
One can go down that path and find themselves in an existential crisis. I try to keep it light while still maintaining the constant acknowledgement of just how much I don’t know. It’s okay not to know things. All of us don’t know far more than we do know. It’s part of being human.
Whatever the next year or years of life bring, I’m hoping it will be just as educational as the previous thirty five.
I want to know more, and dive deep into philosophy and science and art and theology and life itself.
I want to keep grasping at that thing called “balance” which I neglected for so long in my youth.
I definitely want to stay positive throughout it all.
We’re only here for a blink before it’s off to whatever is next, so let’s all work to make this time great!