Sunday, December 26, 2004

Life lessons

From: "Life Coach" Dr. Philip E. Humbert, PhD:

Eight Life Lessons that Make a Difference

This will go out the day after Christmas, and I wanted toshare a few of the most important Life Lessons that have made a difference for me. Sometimes it takes a while but I have learned a few things, and when I remember to usethem, they make life better. Over the years, we do beginto figure things out, and knowing the "rules" sure makeslife easier!

Which leads to my first Big Truth: we just have to learn some things for ourselves. I've read lots of books, studiedwith smart people, and been given great advice. Unfortunately, in the eagerness of youth, I chose to ignore most of it. It takes time to figure life out and otherpeople's advice doesn't always fit, and that's ok. Give yourself some time and a bit of slack. You don't have toget the hang of this all at once.

Second, some lessons have to be learned more than once. If only I had a nickel for everytime I've made a mistake, learned from it, then done the same thing all over again!(I take some comfort in noticing that other people do this,too.) Humans are smart, but we aren't as smart as we think we are. And, we have short memories. Fortunately, we're allowed more than one mistake! Get over it.

Third, flexibility is more important than power. People who are hopeful, cheerful, and creative also tend to be optimistic and happy. Too often, strong-willed people arejust stubborn. I'd rather be optimistic, eager and creative than "determined." I finally learned this truth: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - then move on."

Fourth, curiosity is more valuable than talent. Talented people take offense at this, but little kids taught me this one. The eager kids with the big eyes and restless questions always seem to figure stuff out. The bright kidsusually get better grades, but they don't have as many adventures or good stories to tell. In life, go for the stories!

Fifth, doing stuff is more important than knowing stuff. I loved school and earned three Masters and a Doctorate, so I obviously believe that knowing stuff is important, but life must be LIVED, not studied. People who take risks, try things, build or invent stuff, make mistakes, and create memories are the people who live the "good life". Get in the game!

Sixth, people are more important than things. Sure, all you wise folks are going, "Duh!", but this one takes a while for most of us to really absorb. As kids, we want new toys, as adults we need new cars, or whatever. It's not untillater that we realize memories and success come from people. Adventure and delight and joy come from our relationships with people. Stuff just clutters up our attics and our lives.

Seventh, opportunity is more fun than success. We need achallenge, we need to grow, stretch, look over the horizon,and explore the next frontier. Every level of success is afoundation for the "next big thing." Highly successful, creative and energetic people enjoy life's big challenges; the rest of us just sit with our problems.

And finally, what we contribute is more meaningful than what we get. This may be consistent with some great religious or spiritual tradition, but mostly it's just practical. Creating and building is simply more rewarding than consuming and throwing stuff away. Leaving footprints that others can follow, being kind or generous, mentoring, or opening a door for someone, is simply more fun than collecting stuff.

There are lots of collections of life lessons and "rules"for making life work out well. My guess is that we all have to find our own path, find our own rules, and word them in our own way so that they truly work for us. The key is tofind the principles, the "rules" that DO work for you.

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