I am about to turn 67 and I have actually had people ask me what important things I have learned. This carries the presumption that older is wiser; I will work with that notion.
Ten Important Things I have Learned
1. Love is stronger than death. This is the most important thing I have learned. If you believe in God, then you believe that God’s love is stronger than death and there is something beyond death. And whether or not you believe in God, love is still stronger than death. The love that the departed felt for you is still with you, as is your love for them as long as you live and remember.
2. There is truly no such thing as a bad day. Oh, there are certainly days when things go horribly wrong, but these are episodes, not the story. And the story is still being written as long as you live. Never confuse the episodes with the story and you will stay on track.
3. It costs you no more to be kind than to be indifferent. Kindness is the currency accepted everywhere, especially in places where it seems rare. I have yet to regret a kindness. If you are upset because a kindness isn’t reciprocated, you haven’t grasped its intrinsic value.
4. If you are unhappy, do something. The happiest people I know are those who always have something to do.
5. Eugene O’Neill told his daughter, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending, and the grace of God is the glue.” If you recognize that we are all born broken and have cracks, you will be less inclined to judge or hate another person and more inclined to feel compassion and love.
6. The fact that someone has an opinion different than your own doesn’t instantly or inherently mean that they are evil or stupid. They just have a different life and are standing in a different place, where the view and perspective may differ from yours. Some people indeed are evil and or stupid, just don’t make them your problem.
7. Human beings are part of nature, not separate from it. We often speak of nature as if it is something outside of ourselves, but in any contest between humans and nature, nature wins. Observe an abandoned house with trees growing in the former living room and racoons roaming the hallways. If you do not believe that nature always, ultimately wins, visit a cemetery. Nature really doesn't give a damn about your opinions. The tides will go in and out whether your are happy or sad and sturgeons, tortoises, and crustaceans live longer.
8. Humility is self-knowledge and self-love. To be humble is to truly know where you are and who you are and accept this. It is to see yourself as fortunate to be human and blessed to be among other humans. To be humble is to accept who you are, not that you can never change, but rather that you can.
9. Nothing is permanent. That is a good and bad new proposition. No sadness, failure, disappointment, or misstep is final. On the other hand, none of the good things in life is permanent either, although tried and tested love comes pretty darned close. So appreciate it.
10. Security is a word that we apply to emotions, prisons, and our homes. An insecure person often is the one who worries most about the security of their home and person and a secure person sees too much security as a prison. Secure people also tend to not do things that get you put in prison. Ironic, isn’t it?